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Getting threats for using a trademark/tradename?

 3:24 pm on Feb 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Okay, so a nut calls me at 7am, wakes me up, and she knows I am in the same state, she knows the time. I don't answer because, hmmm, I'm sleeping after working 15 hours on my new startup.

This nutcase goes on to say (on the message) that I am advertising on her trademark. I wake up, go search USPTO and find no trademark. I email her saying I can't find a trademark, if you have one contact Google and I'm sure they'll deal with this appropriately.

Then she calls me again, realize this is still before 8am, and says she has a tradename (realize she sounds like a freaking nut case), no longer a trademark mind you, and it is a recognized name in the federal courts and that she will take me to court or small claims court (since we are in the same state she claims it is illegal) and get a "quick $5,000." Then, as a somewhat threat, she says she will make people aware of this.

I looked up online about her and apparently she is a nut, because other people have claimed the same thing. After her third message, still before 8am, I decided I'll just take her "tradenames" off my AdWords list for now, and see what other people think. I really doubt I'd get any traffic from this anyhow, so not worth it.

Anyhow, what would you do? I'm thinking of driving there and tell her to stop, but that is way too much effort and I need to work. On a side note, my AdWords ad was up for about 16 hours, most of it overnight. She sure was quick!

So if she has no trademark can I advertise for it? Can I advertise on her name and make a page about her to really tick her off?



 3:37 pm on Feb 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>to really tick her off?

Will ticking her off make you any money? Can you think of 5 things that are more productive that ticking her off? ;)

Don't sweat the small things.


 3:39 pm on Feb 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yah, I took everything down for now and just want her to stop calling.

Like you said, don't sweat the small stuff.


 6:58 pm on Feb 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Bottomline is, if it probably wouldn't make you any money anyways...then I would rather not have some this nut case mad at me, especially one that lives in close proximity and is capable of very bizare things :)


 4:36 pm on Feb 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Why not buy a phone with a mute button to turn off the dial tone, during non-business hours.

If she calls during business hours, just hang up on her.

Don't drive to her place, especially if you are upset. You don't want to be a theme for a plot for Law and Order CI. :)


 4:40 pm on Feb 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

If she continues to call, report her to the phone company for making harassing phone calls. If you've done what she asks, she has no more reason to call you.


 3:11 pm on Feb 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

...tell her to take up with Google, they are ultimately in control of this and her complaint should be with G


 2:34 am on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

What happens if you are a US based company, and mention that trademarked name or registered term of a company in Canada, who says they trademarked the name. Can they sue you for damages if their name isn't registed in the country i'm doing business in? As far as I know, a trademark is not worldwide. Of course, the threats continue. Can I use a Canadian trademarked name in my Adwords if it's not trademarked in the usa?

On the web site, different use: What about fair use? I should be able to mention the name of a similar product to mine as part of a commentary, as long as it isn't overly used. I don't use any ad copy, just the trademarked name once as part of a comment like, "we have better widgets than [TM NAME HERE].


 3:09 am on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

On the web site, different use: What about fair use? I should be able to mention the name of a similar product to mine as part of a commentary, as long as it isn't overly used. I don't use any ad copy, just the trademarked name once as part of a comment like, "we have better widgets than [TM NAME HERE].

My non-lawyerly understanding, based on my read of the info on the USPTO web site, is that you can use it as much as you want. You can say that you have better widgets than [TM name here] dozens of times, if you so desire.

First of all, "fair use" is a concept from copyright law, not trademark law.

You are free to use the term:

1. As a generic word that doesn't refer to the product (e.g. "Wow!" as an exclamation, NOT referring to "World of Warcraft")

2. Referring to the product in any context, as long as you acknowledge the trademark holder. (Use the TM, SM, or circle-R symbol as appropriate, and "FooBar is a registered trademark of Foo & Bar Inc.")

3. To refer to a DIFFERENT product (the same wordmark can refer to different products or services in different categories) in the same manner as 2.

Of course, you should consult an attorney and/or read the law or explanations and commentary of the law yourself. www.uspto.gov has a lot of very understandable information on this.


 3:58 am on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

One other point of clarification: There is a big difference between a "trademark" (designated with TM) and a "registered trademark" (designated with circled R).

The TM designation indicates that the trademark is not registered. It may or may not be the case that the company intends to register it. It is simply a way to stake a claim. If they use the mark in connection with trade of a product or service (use SM for a service), and the mark is unique (in the industry?), then they have the right to claim it as a trademark.

The circled R designation indicates all of the above, but it also indicates that you have completed the steps (and paid the money) to register the mark. One or more governments have recognized that the mark belongs to you.

The level of protection (and therefore leverage) for a TM is considerably less than for a registered trademark.

Visit the USPTO website and/or talk with a good IP attorney. The USPTO website has some pretty good descriptions concerning the distinction.


 7:15 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think it helps to always keep in mind the purpose of trademarks: they distinguish the source of goods or services. Where you get in trouble is when you confuse or mislead consumers about the source of goods or services.

A trademark is not a patent on a word.

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