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View Full Version : Trademark Issues....


KidKilowatt
09-24-1999, 09:54 PM
I own a website that boasts a well known brand name. I use it for a legit business, anyone know what my current options are If the trademark holders decide to try and take my domain name away??

I know it is illegal to buy domains that are trademarked, for the express purpose of selling them to the trademark holders at a premium price.

But I run a legit business, If they end up wanting the domain name, can I ask them to buy it?? Do you think they would buy it instead of forcing me into court or something ?? Has anyone else had to deal with his problem?? If so what was your experience??

Thanks,
Kid

I know in the case of spree.com vs. Spree phone cards that the original holder of the domain got to keep it (spree.com), mainly because they used the sight for selling software etc.... not phone cards.

Which would be the same in my case, the trademark holder sells a product much different than me.

Thanks for you input.

Max
09-25-1999, 09:31 AM
Hi KidKilowatt.

You may be interested in this article at news.com (http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-121277.html). Also those related stories at the bottom of that page could be helpful. http://www.very-cool-stuff.com/ubb/smile.gif

KidKilowatt
09-25-1999, 10:00 AM
Thanks for the tip, looks like things are turning to my favour on this matter.

Questy
09-25-1999, 08:42 PM
First the disclaimers:

... I am not a lawyer, nor claim to be.

... The links and quotes below are based on US Law, your neighborhood may impose other rules...

... Since this is a "business" question on business issues rather than a technical one, as in HTML, scripting, etc, I would prefer we handle these discussions at the business forum, so I have moved this question here


If you care to brush up on the laws check out:
Patents and Trademarks: www.uspto.gov/ (http://www.uspto.gov/)
copyrights: http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/

FWIW, to trademark a name, the name itself must be used in commerce for a particular group of goods and services. An well know example I gave to a similar question awile back was when the group the Beatles owned Apple Records, and along came the famous Apple Computer company. There never were any issues until the Apple Computer Company started making Music Software.


Here is an exact quote from the US. Patent Office:
"The use of an Internet domain name as a mere directional reference, similar to use of a telephone number or business address on stationery, business cards, or advertisements, is not use of the name as a source identifier."

In short this means that if you tried to "trademark" a domain name, you couldn't unless the name was sole identifier of the business. A domain by itself is simply an address, no more no less.


HTH,

------------------
Regards,
...Questy

Forum Moderator, full time computerguy, part time philosopher..
www.questy.com (http://www.questy.com) ... www.computerguru.net (http://www.computerguru.net) ... www.eden.nu (http://www.eden.nu)




[This message has been edited by Questy (edited 09-25-1999).]

WildComputer
09-26-1999, 06:50 PM
Questy - what is the situation regarding parodies ????

If i made a site say something like yahehe.com that was a parody of it's better known counterpart would i get in trouble?

P.S. Actually I wouldn't parody them, but there's another very well known site that kinda almost begs parody.

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Questy
09-27-1999, 02:08 AM
WildComputer,

As I would come to expect from you, Good Question!

RE:" Questy - what is the situation regarding parodies ????"

Off the top of my head I can't think of any famous cases involving parodies. For some reason satire usually allows for more "freedoms" that an obvious non humorous rip off of an idea.

I'm doing some home work to follow up on this question.


------------------
Regards,
...Questy

Forum Moderator, full time computerguy, part time philosopher..
www.questy.com (http://www.questy.com) ... www.computerguru.net (http://www.computerguru.net) ... www.eden.nu (http://www.eden.nu)

WildComputer
09-27-1999, 08:33 AM
I have heard parodies mentioned in the same context as "fair use".

But if I was to copy a famous web site's front page, and change all the text and graphics into parody versions, I don't know if this counts as fair use.

p.s. i can't believe this but the .co.uk, .com and .net versions of the "parody" version of their name are all unregistered.

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[This message has been edited by WildComputer (edited 09-27-1999).]

Questy
09-27-1999, 12:41 PM
Wow, specific mention to parody in copyright law:

The 1961 _Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law_ cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: "quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author's observations;use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous
reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported."

That's the US definition of "fair use"

WildComputer
09-27-1999, 01:16 PM
Yes, but does this explain the situation

Suppose I was to parody a famous web site. Include my own text and graphics, but similar superificial appearance and logos, and perhaps even a superificially similar domain name. Am I still in safe ground, or have I crossed the line...

I am no lawyer...but I thought "fair use" was basically there to stop copyright holders using their copyright to prevent commentary, parodies, etc.



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Questy
09-27-1999, 03:39 PM
WildComputer,

This is a great issue for how the web will evolve, and from a strictly web point of view, I have yet to find a court case regarding a parody web site, and hey I'm looking.

I've been called a cynic for my social views, and while this isn't a philosophy forum, that does have some impact on this question.

My cynical view tells me that in order for someone to sue you it must be worth their effort ($$$), and then they have to prove you damaged them somehow, and once again they have prove some financial loss, (in terms of dollars, lira, pesos or whatever).

I would argue that a parody done well actually draws more attention to the original, in which case you've actually helped them, not hurt them.

And for example check out these sites:

The "original": http://www.drudgereport.com/


The "rip off": http://drudge.com/

WildComputer
09-27-1999, 04:32 PM
Good point questy. I am a cynic too and you are probably right in most cases.

The problem areas I see are

(a) a company which took it badly, may come after you just out of spite, or to protect what they perceive as their "image". I have not heard of any specifically parody cases, but of (superficially) similar stories for other elements on a company's "net image".

Chances are they would probably tell just tell you to close the site, and if you did, leave it at that. However there are some tough people on the net, that may go further to harass a parody site - even though in purely economic terms it wouldn't make sense.


(b) the company in question may already consider it has a "weak" image, or image "problem". In which case some kind of problem such as (a) seems more likely.

Like I said previously, some sites are almost "begging" to be parodied (sp?). I think a problem is actually more likely with these types of sites.

Cool links by the way.




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Steve_S
09-28-1999, 12:22 AM
http://www.very-cool-stuff.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

"We" should be open in a few weeks.

http://www.yahooisevil.com

......chuckle

And yes it's a P site. P as in parody

------------------
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Steve_S
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WildComputer
09-28-1999, 08:47 AM
Steve or Questy would you mind taking a look at a parody site I'm building and giving your opinion

I don't want to put a URL up on a public BBS, until at least 1 other intelligent/informed person has said that they think i'll be okay



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davidg1234
09-28-1999, 03:21 PM
can somebody tell me why everyone hates yahoo?

The only thing bad I can think of is their geocities **** up with the changed contract but that is completly irrelevant because it has been sorted now.

I think yahoo are great.

davidg1234
09-28-1999, 03:24 PM
I apologise. I am getting all emotional again http://www.very-cool-stuff.com/ubb/smile.gif La di da, the world is full of flowers and hate doesnt exist.

WildComputer
09-28-1999, 04:02 PM
Well I am jealous of Yahoo, but that's not the same thing as hating them

They won't be the target of my parody

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Steve_S
09-28-1999, 04:55 PM
Yahoo is fine. I have no complaints. None of this precludes me or anyone else from creating a Paradoy of same.

I love SNL (Saturday Night Live) so that's part of the "model" if you will. Very funny stuff http://www.very-cool-stuff.com/ubb/biggrin.gif



------------------
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Steve_S
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WildComputer
09-28-1999, 06:25 PM
Steve & Questy I have sent you e-mail. I have (almost) finished a parody site, and want a quick 2nd opinion on a couple of things before I activate it, and discuss it for real. I'd really appreciate your views.

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Questy
09-29-1999, 08:19 PM
David1234,

RE: can somebody tell me why everyone hates yahoo?

Funny you should ask that question, here's my "sermon" on that topic if you care to read it: http://www.questy.com/zen/imho0299.htm

WC,

I hope by the time you read this I'll have gotten back to you!

WildComputer
09-30-1999, 04:07 AM
Thanks for the e-mails Questy and Steve. Questy you're probably right I am often too cautious, which is why it's always good to get a 2nd opinion.

The site will be up in the new few hours. I hope fans of the site I'm parodying get the joke...

------------------
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KHN
09-30-1999, 12:33 PM
I hate Yahoo too!!

They still have not accepted my site after a couple submissions in the past month. In fact they actually submit their Yahoo Mail to me. So does this mean that they already check my site and have not added it yet??

If you look in the free stuff category they have a lot of sites without domain names and some of them don't even have free stuff to be in it. Anybody know why I'm not getting in??

I think that everybody loves Yahoo except webmasters.

------------------
KHN
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[This message has been edited by KHN (edited 09-30-1999).]

WildComputer
09-30-1999, 07:11 PM
The busiest search engine isn't necessarily the one that gets you the most/best traffic. If they don't like your site - tough luck on them, target another major search engine.

P.S. the new unfunny site is up

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