Very eye opening

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cerelife

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I'm really curious what 2-word phrase was in question in this case. Like was it something obvious that would be recognizable to the average consumer to cause this extreme action?
I've had issues with a blatant copycat and infringement of my company name in another state.
Here's a link to my rant on this forum about the copycat - post #30:
In the second case, someone opened a boutique store offering soap, bath and body stuff, candles, etc. (in a city where I do yearly festivals) using my company name. There was no issue with copycatting my products, just using my company name for their business. One of my customers there is a lawyer and informed the owners that that company name already had a tax ID on file in the state and they were not allowed to duplicate it. She gave them 30 days to remove the sign before she pursued legal action against them. She didn't even tell me until after the name had been changed!
I'm very lucky, blessed, humbled, and grateful to have customers who take offense on my behalf.
I did ask the attorneys in our accounting office if I should trademark my company name and packaging, but they said it was pretty much pointless for a small business. Per the packaging and style - I don't own the fonts or the spacing, or even the packaging/product line - I'm one of hundreds of thousands of small business owners who make similar things and as long as something is even slightly different (like the name/logo) I have no recourse. And as far as my company name, sure I could trademark that, but why spend maybe $1K or more to do so when all I have to prove is that I've been using that company name for years? I have a Federal Tax ID for my company name, as well as state tax ID's where I do festivals.
 

Cat&Oak

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Great post. I got the impression this was a major company going after her although I don't really know but my heart broke for her. I agree with the trademark issue. I felt like it was an extremely low blow to go after a small business like this. Cory is extremely helpful and does great tutorials and she handled this in a very mature way.
 

Johnez

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Not a business owner, but wow you are right, what an eye opener Cat.

If anyone thinks that these issues are insurmountable, I am part of a forum that fought Monster Energy for the ability to use the name "MonsterFishKeepers" in their forum name. The little guys won. It's easy to think of these companies as evil or scumbags (it's still my automatic kneejerk reaction after seeing this video), but companies are basically forced to defend their copyrights and trademarks or risk losing them for lack of defense when terms or phrases become part of common usage. Companies badgering little guys like this and forcing them to pay up or license are unconscionable tho.
 
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earlene

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This post got me spending hours looking at Trademarks that seem pertinent to me and my family. And some on soaping words in general. Even HSCG's trademarks just because they came up on the search. HOURS of reading.

Another thing I found quite accidentally, but was extremely interesting because I have always adored the actor, is that Brad Pitt has a TM on his stage name, although not his birth name. Strangely that lead me to looking at how common it is for an actor or actress to file for a Trademark on their stage name, and that was at least another couple or more hours at least.

Some of the funny ones were things like people who tried to Trademark 'Soap Loaf' (at least 2 different people or 3, I forget now) and also 'A Loaf of Soap' (can you believe it?) A celebrity who will remain nameless who went nuts with (many) numerous filings to TM name & iterations thereof, many of which are still active & owned by 'Trustees' of said Celebrity's Living Trust, whom is none other than unnamed celebrity (solely).

HOURS and when I woke up this morning, I started up again. THIS MUST STOP! I have packing to do. I'm leaving for Texas tomorrow morning.
 

AliOop

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@cerelife the reason to reconsider going through the hassle of trademarking is not so you can sue someone else, but so that you can defend against someone suing you. Once someone else trademarks something similar to your name or branding, even years of prior use by you may not be sufficient to protect you.

Edited: read up on the McDonald's story. Ray Croc and his co-founder TM'd the name and then sued someone who had been in business many, many years. Guess who lost? :(
 
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Cat&Oak

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@earlene Sorry I sent you down the rabbit hole. I did the same thing, went through my website with a fine tooth comb and I myself had one phrase that is trademarked by a large corporation! So I changed it. Had no clue. That's why it frightened me so badly.
 

TheGecko

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I'm subscribed to Sunshine Soap and Candle Company on Youtube and this video scared the crap out of me personally. We have to be careful as business owners.
First of all, such is our legal system (in the US), that it often costs more to defend yourself than it is to just settle. So never assume that just because someone "settles", it means that they are guilty of something.

Second, why make a video about the issue and then not name the company or at least the phrase. I know what she said about 'bolstering' the other company, but I think the truth is that she was worried that she would get sued; which takes us back to the cost of defending oneself.

Trademarking is not a cheap process so I can understand why folks would be very protective of it.
 

lenarenee

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First of all, such is our legal system (in the US), that it often costs more to defend yourself than it is to just settle. So never assume that just because someone "settles", it means that they are guilty of something.

Second, why make a video about the issue and then not name the company or at least the phrase. I know what she said about 'bolstering' the other company, but I think the truth is that she was worried that she would get sued; which takes us back to the cost of defending oneself.

Trademarking is not a cheap process so I can understand why folks would be very protective of it.
Yeah, I think it’s very likely she was told not to mention the company’s name. Her whole video was very carefully and methodically done. And I didn’t get the sense at all that her concern was about giving the company free “advertising“. Besides, no one watching her video was going to root for the big bad company over the small business person who used her knowledge to teach others!
 

AliOop

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Agreed, she was wise enough to hire legal counsel, and I'm sure they advised her about how to make the video in such a way that she wouldn't get sued. It would have been a weak case, but as Gecko noted, merely defending against such a suit can bankrupt the small business person. I personally know someone who lost everything because a former employer sued him for going to work for a competitor. My friend and his new employer won the case, but lost all that they owned in order to pay lawyers to defend them. My friend, who is over 70yo, now works in food service at Disneyland to pay the bills in their rental home (they had to sell their home for cash to pay their lawyer bills).

Also, back to Sunshine Soap & Candles, the settlement agreement likely contained a non-disclosure clause, preventing her from saying the company name or amount of the settlement. That way, the next time the other business sues someone, there is no public record of the terms so the other company's lawyer can push for high $$$ every time. Very standard procedure in these situations.

On the flip side, the non-profit where I work was forced to sue another non-profit in town that opened up using a name and mark almost identical to ours, and in a very similar line of work. We did all that we could to work with them, even offering them $20k to pay for the cost of their rebranding. They refused all attempts to settle, so we had to file for a restraining order, because people honestly were getting confused as to which business they were contacting. We knew this because we were getting complaints from their clients, who didn't believe us when we said, "That's not us."

Long story short, we get to the restraining order hearing, and their attorney waves his arms and yammers on about the big guy "bullying the little guy." Although settlement offers are not admissible as evidence, our lawyer managed to mention that we offered them $20 which they refused. The judge was not pleased and immediately issued the restraining order.

Three months later, the other business still had not repainted their van (with our name and mark on it), nor started using new stationery. Our attorney had to threaten to take them back and ask for triple damages for the restraining order violation, before they finally complied.

All that to say, the big guy isn't always the bad guy. Jerks come in all shapes, sizes, and income levels. The stupid thing is that they and we both spent more on lawyer bills than the $20k we offered. Plus they had to pay their own rebranding costs. Not the brightest bulbs in the pack, so it wasn't a big shock when they folded a few years later.
 
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Bubble Agent

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@earlene Sorry I sent you down the rabbit hole.
I got the impression this was a major company going after her although I don't really
Thanks for posting this.
Some rabbit holes can literally be lifesavers, whether you are a rabbit seeking protection, or a smart person willing to dig a bit deeper to get educated on things that can happen in the future, and to be able to protect your hard work.

She said it was not a big company that went after her, which made it even scarier to me. She answers someones comment below her video, and states that it was not a big company that did this to her, indicating it was a smaller one.
So that just shows that this thing can pop up out from the blue from places you would not see it coming.

Even if I live in Norway I am planning to see if this is something I need to do myself, as I have two very unique names to two particular things that I make, that I would be veeery upset if someone starts to copy from me. No one in Norway has called it what I have called it, it is very unique and fun, so it will stand out. This video made me think about how to protect me from others taking advantage of my stuff. But, wowzahh, it is expensive... $1000 here in Norway.
 

glendam

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This post got me spending hours looking at Trademarks that seem pertinent to me and my family. And some on soaping words in general. Even HSCG's trademarks just because they came up on the search. HOURS of reading.

Another thing I found quite accidentally, but was extremely interesting because I have always adored the actor, is that Brad Pitt has a TM on his stage name, although not his birth name. Strangely that lead me to looking at how common it is for an actor or actress to file for a Trademark on their stage name, and that was at least another couple or more hours at least.

Some of the funny ones were things like people who tried to Trademark 'Soap Loaf' (at least 2 different people or 3, I forget now) and also 'A Loaf of Soap' (can you believe it?) A celebrity who will remain nameless who went nuts with (many) numerous filings to TM name & iterations thereof, many of which are still active & owned by 'Trustees' of said Celebrity's Living Trust, whom is none other than unnamed celebrity (solely).

HOURS and when I woke up this morning, I started up again. THIS MUST STOP! I have packing to do. I'm leaving for Texas tomorrow morning.
That is interesting about Brad Pitt, I got in a similar rabbit hole with Frida Kahlo. In Mexico her work is now in the public domain, so her family trademarked her name instead. Have a good trip!
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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Not to make it worse for all of you Alice inclined people, but look at the rules around copyright claims on YouTube. It is weighted so much in the direction of the person making the claim to the point that they basically require no proof at any stage! Utter madness
 

TheGecko

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Not to make it worse for all of you Alice inclined people, but look at the rules around copyright claims on YouTube. It is weighted so much in the direction of the person making the claim to the point that they basically require no proof at any stage! Utter madness
Yes and no. The problem is simple...too many videos, not enough people. Easier to err on the side of caution than to face a potential lawsuit because even if you win, you still lose.
 
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