Overzealous Trademark Holder Tries To Stop Blogger From Using The Phrase 'Branded Community'

from the this-again? dept

In a culture that has everyone thinking that you can "own" ideas, it's no surprise that we see such regular misuses of things like trademark law to pretend it conveys traditional property rights on the holder of the mark. As we've explained all too often, the purpose of a trademark is consumer protection -- to keep someone from being tricked into buying Bob's Cola, thinking that it's Coca Cola. However, with so many stories promoting "intellectual property" in the news these days, it's no surprise that some trademark holders think it gives them near total control over the mark.

Take this bizarre case as an example. A blogger on ZDNet had a post about "enterprise communities" where the phrase "branded community" was used. That's a descriptive use and a perfectly reasonable one. Yet, the owner of some marketing firm wrote a semi-threatening letter claiming to hold the trademark on "branded community" and demanding that the blogger "refrain from using the phrase in any other current or future materials."

Of course, that's a complete abuse of trademark law, which does not grant the holder the ability to prevent all usage of the phrase, only usage that might cause confusion with the goods or services related to the mark. Using it as a passing phrase in a blog post does no such thing -- but it already scared off the blogger, who changed the phrase in the original (though, thankfully, posted the threat letter with a detailed response). Either way, it's yet another sign of the times, when people start thinking that a trademark allows them to prevent people from using a perfectly normal descriptive phrase like "branded community."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    hegemon13, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 6:28am

    Threat letter

    Ooh, you used the phrase, too. Can't wait to see the letter posted here. Somehow, I don't think TD will bend so easily.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    LMAO, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 6:34am

    just . . . . LMAO

    I dunno what else to say except . . . ROFLMAO . . . what a tool this guy is

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    asdf, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 7:05am

    BRANDED COMMUNITY! BRANDED COMMUNITY! BRANDED COMMUNITY!





    ..when do i get my letter? All I ever get are bills.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Your Gawd and Master, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 7:15am

    branded community

    Branded communities suck. Branded community marketers suck. Branded community, branded community. The term "branded community" is *owned* by no one even if the trademark is.

    So screw this guy:(REGISTRANT) Frankel, Robert S. INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES 17645 Royce Drive Encino CALIFORNIA 91316
    (from the USPTO website)

    Oh, did I mention that I'd like to say "branded community"

     

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  5.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Aug 1st, 2008 @ 7:22am

    you used my tradmarks!!1!

    i have trademarked the phrase "perfectly normal" and "descriptive phrase" and you should refrain from using them in this or any further blog postings or i will sue you back to the stone age.

    sincerely,

    chris sleazeball
    president and CEO
    perfectly normal descriptive phrases, inc.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Just Stupid, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 7:24am

    Trade Mark

    That's Hot, oh wait isn't that trademarked???

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Truthbringer, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 7:30am

    Reminds me of FOXNEWS

    Reminds me of When FOXNEWS sued Al Franken for using the term "fair and balanced" . . . LMAO what a bunch of morons . . . from Roger Ailes on down, GOP morons LMAO.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 7:41am

    Results 1 - 10 of about 11,500 for "branded community"

    That's a hell of a lot of cease and desist letters to send.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 7:48am

    Only in America.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 8:05am

    Headline should read: "Overzealous Blogger Provides No Legal Evidence As To Why It Is Trademark Abuse."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Shohat, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 8:12am

    Shohat owns a Branded Community

    Branded Community - For Pedophiles , by Pedophiles

    Branded Community Gay Sex Scandal.

    Branded Community kills Retarded kid with a broken lawn chair.

    Branded Community - Fraud.


    Branded Community Lesbian Conspiracy.

    Robert S.Frankel, Rob Frenkel, Branded Community, Robert Frankel





    ...Hope Mike did his SEO.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 8:23am

    I think we should dilute his tradmark by using "branded community" in every comment on every tech dirt article from now on, lets get that Google hit rate up to hundreds of thousands. And then I say someone should tradmark the guy's name and then threaten to sue him everytime he uses it.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 8:38am

    I want a letter because I have said the word branded community in this comment box! BRANDED COMMUNITY :D

    I want you all to stop using the word trademark as I have a trademark on that word!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    jasmine, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 8:52am

    © © ©

    Branded Community© of Fageles Branded Community© - Men Who Love Kangaroos, And The Kangaroos Who Love Them Branded Community© - Forbidden Love: Cats and Dogs Together!!!! Puppy Love in a Branded Community© Like You've Never Seen Before!!!! A Branded Community© Of Topless Doggies and Naked Kitties!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    jasmine, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 8:53am

    F-- it worked on the preview but then the actual posting diluted my use of the copyright symbol. Bah humbug.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    jasmine, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 8:55am

    Re: you used my tradmarks!!1!

    Dear Mr. Sleazeball:

    My client has requested that you kindly cease and desist being a moron. In other words, drop dead, Fred. And do not quote my client, because he long ago trademarked the phrase 'Drop Dead, Fred.'

    Sincerely,

    Sleazeball, Sleazeball, and Sleazeball, Attorneys At Law

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Luc Boardwalk, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 8:56am

    Wait!

    Are we talking about a genuine Robert S. Frankel branded community? Or a cheap imitation knockoff branded community?

    I'm confused!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Lucky Kanga, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:00am

    Re: Wait!

    The men loving kangaroos branded community is a genuine Frankel branded community. In the future, Mr. Luc Boardwalk (if that is even your real name), please refrain from unnecessary sarcasm when referring to my client's trademark on the phrase branded community.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    BlowURmindBowel, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:00am

    In the gutter per as usual

    I read the post and somehow (I know this is a stretch), I thought of a sadist nudist colony where people routinely engaged in applying cattle brands to one another...

    HOT BDSM BRANDED COMMUNITY NAKED OUTDOOR SEX ABUSE!!!
    HOT BDSM BRANDED COMMUNITY NAKED OUTDOOR SEX ABUSE!!!
    HOT BDSM BRANDED COMMUNITY NAKED OUTDOOR SEX ABUSE!!!

    Think that will get me a letter?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    wasnt me!, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:00am

    i just did a search on google for branded community got 9,740,000 sites.

    lets gang up and each of us trademark 1 letter of the alphabet.

    by the looks of this we might actually get approved

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    BlowURmindBowel, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:02am

    oh and BTW

    Oh and BTW this thread is now the 3rd result for "Branded Community" on Google. Take that Trademark Abusing ass-clown!

    Interwebs! AWAY!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:03am

    Well, looks like he's been branded now, wonder how he likes that?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Okeefinokee, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:06am

    Re: In the gutter per as usual

    I would say that you have grounds for appeal once you're convicted for abusing trademarks. However, please be advised of the lifetime requirement in place for registry of trademark abusers. As a member of said registry, you will be required to register with your local police department as well as stay at least 1500 feet away from a moron named: (REGISTRANT) Frankel, Robert S. INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES 17645 Royce Drive Encino CALIFORNIA 91316(from the USPTO website). Mr. Frankel is the victim you were convicted of abusing by your repeated taunting outside the gates of his branded community.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:06am

    BRANDED COMMUNITY

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Lucky Lindy, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:14am

    Read the faq uneducated morons

    If you have any questions for Mr. Frankel, he can be reached at the following phone number. You may have more questions about i-legions. Please feel free to call 818-990-8623 Pacific Time.

    http://www.frankel-anderson.com/ilegions/faqs.html

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Sara, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:25am

    I think I have crossed the line, I am now officially "crazy". I have reached the point where I just find this hilarious! Watching these 'tards run around like a bunch of chickens. I think its about time evolution take it up to the next level. Stick that in your "BRANDED COMMUNITY".

    Sara

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    slimcat (profile), Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:32am

    google bomb

    Good! All we have to do now is associate "Branded Community" with goatse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Benjamin Wright, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:37am

    Trade secret law on web

    The owner of a web site might post terms of access that include non-disclosure language to prevent unauthorized viewers from using trade secrets on the site. This idea is not legal advice, just something to think about. --Ben http://hack-igations.blogspot.com/2008/03/trade-secret-web-terms.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:38am

    Trademarking extisting words

    Eye remember when 'ntel tr*ed . . . er . . . attempted to trademark the letter that comes after "h" 'n the alphabet. That would have been a publ'sh'ng nyghtmare.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Amazing Steve, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:49am

    Dear "Owner of some marketing firm"

    In response to your letter of this week, umm go fuck yourself. Have your lawyer contact us so that I can relay same. Now have a seat and put your helmet back on before you hurt yourself.

    Fuck you very much,
    Your worst nightmare.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Branded Community, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 9:59am

    Branded Community

    Branded Community FTW

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Tony, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 10:10am

    The problem

    "...it already scared off the blogger, who changed the phrase in the original"

    And here is the problem. Not just with this abuse of trademark law, but with the RIAA's abuse, DMCA abuses, and so on. These people are, quite simply, bullies. They use intimidation tactics to get people to give in without a fight.

    Until and unless a large portion of people on the receiving end of this start fighting back, the abuses will continue.

    Sadly, I just don't see that happening.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 10:13am

    Re:

    Headline should read: "Overzealous Blog Commenter Provides No Legal Evidence As To Why It Is NOT Trademark Abuse."

    FTFY!

    Now to address your myopia. A trademark only applies in the field in which it is registered(though the scope of trademarks does expand such as when Coca-Cola started a line of clothing). A trademark dilution only applies if the term is used in that field. So if I started a shoe company and called it "Intel", despite the fact that there is a microprocessor company called Intel, they would have little recourse here in America since I'm not selling CPUs. But if I put a single flashing LED on those shoes, then they could begin to build a case against me.

    However there is NOTHING wrong with using a trademark in passing. Or do you think that Coca-Cola and Pepsi have actually *asked* each other for permission to use their trademarks in commercials where they say "Pepsi beat Coca-Cola 2 to 1 in taste tests" or "Coca-Cola beat Pepsi in blind taste tests"? If so, you're much more naive than you are aware.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    I'm Robert S. Frankel Bitch!, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 10:15am

    Cease and Desist!

    Cease and Desist letters are pending for all of you who used the trademarked term "Branded Community", I am also preparing to file for a court order to compel techdirt to turn over user/ip records so I may pursue the aforementioned cease and desist letters as well as several libel suits I am preparing.

    Finally, I am going to put flaming bags of dog poop on all of your front porches, and pee in your bushes!

    Love,
    Dick Frank

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Greg, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 10:19am

    Re: Reminds me of FOXNEWS

    GOP morons? you're the moron for calling FoxNews GOP morons. Fox suing them over a phrase makes THEM morons, not the GOP, dumbass. See how moronic Liberals are?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 10:19am

    Re:

    Thing is, he'll have a HARD time proving trademark dilution since in 2006 they tweaked the rules a bit where one would only have to prove that it was likely that trademark dilution could occur but then they make it more difficult to claim that because they narrowed the "Universe" of marks by making it a requirement that the trademark be a nationally recognized mark to qualify for protection. Since I'd never heard of branded community as a phrase before now, he's gonna have a long hill to climb after some of the people here are done with him.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Greg, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 10:40am

    oh i get it

    I'll bet anyone a burger and fries that the original to his form was done in a conf room filled with people who frequently use the words synergy and paradigm shift. (and likely the Dilbert mission statement generator)

    Wait til he tries to flex his paltry legal muscle onto a real branded community like WoW and the like.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    McA, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 10:43am

    Re:

    Best letter EVER

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Mike Allen, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 10:59am

    what

    This is rather like NFL trying to copyright numbers 19-0 or something. WTF is a Branded Community i live in a community we arnt Branded jus a community. but its just words dont mean anything this guy is a idiot. From a Un-Branded Community.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Valkor, Aug 1st, 2008 @ 12:57pm

    Re:

    Humperdinck, Humperdinck, Humperdinck!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, Aug 2nd, 2008 @ 5:05am

    Cattle Live in a Branded Community

    Given the prior art of hundreds of old Western Movies it is obvious that Cattle, Horses and other Livestock lived in Branded Communities before the turn of the last century.

    Just be glad current day HOAs haven't come across this idea sooner. Buy home in the Twin Pines estates and get a hot iron on your fannie. Move frequently and look like a burn victim.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 4:31am

    Re: Re: Reminds me of FOXNEWS

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Ailes

    FOXNEWS is the GOP there is no difference . . .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Dean Landolt, Aug 4th, 2008 @ 12:34pm

    streisand

    Come on Mike, how could you fall for this... You said it yourself: "the owner of some marketing firm" -- this is a pretty clear streisand ploy in action. One hopes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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