Gaijin Entertainment Demands Gaijin.com, Which Predates Them And Doesn't Infringe Their Trademark

from the trademark-abuse dept

In the latest example of extreme trademark abuse, video game company Gaijin Entertainment is not just claiming a trademark over "gaijin" but using it to demand the domain name Gaijin.com, which was registered by Brandon Harris back in May of 1995. The legal nastygram that the company sent is quite incredible, suggesting that Harris registered the domain later and is somehow infringing on their mark:
It came to our attention that you registered and maintain a website www.gaijin.com (“Infringing Website”) that infringes Gaijin Mark. By maintaining and offering to public your content via the website, i.e., Infringing Website, having the same domain as Gaijin Mark, you create consumer confusion and mistake as to the source, sponsorship and/or affiliation of the Infringing Website and Gaijin, thereby infringing Gaijin Mark.
Luckily, Harris has Mike Godwin (yes, that Mike Godwin, so get your Nazi references in early) as a lawyer, and he quickly sent back the following excellent response.
Dear Mr. Goldstein-Gureff,

Please be advised that my client, Brandon Harris, disputes your trademark-infringement claim in every particular.

That is the most polite way to state how vigorously we dispute your attempt to assert flat ownership of the word “gaijin,” a word so well-established in English that it is an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Currently, I’m advising my client to publicize your demand letter, so that the entire game-consuming public will be made aware of your client’s overreaching trademark assertions. In addition, we will of course continue to make clear that Brandon Harris’s website in no way gives rise to any kind of marketplace confusion of the sort that American trademark law is designed to address.

In the interests of allowing you and your client to gracefully retract your claim, we have chosen to refrain from publicizing your demand until you respond to this message, provided that you respond no later than close-of-business Monday. Since I am currently in DC, Eastern time applies.

–Mike Godwin

P.S. I understand that your clients are possibly Russian nationals. You may wish to explain to them the scope and limitations of the Lanham Act in the United States.

–MG
Obviously, they did not retract the claim in time, and thus, the trademark bullying is now public.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    S. T. Stone, May 7th, 2013 @ 10:09am

    And the Japanese all had a laugh about how a bunch of gaijins ended up fighting over the word "gaijin".

     

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

  2.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 10:10am

    Why?

    Why give them time to rescind? That just gives them the opportunity to target people who don't have Mike Godwin on speed dial without leaving a wake.

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 10:10am

    Re:

    Funny and insightful. Well done, sir.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 10:12am

    "Luckily, Harris has Mike Godwin (yes, that Mike Godwin, so get your Nazi references in early)..."

    Not True Techdirtian would ever resort to such cheap logical devices.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 10:13am

    Re:

    You know who's a true Techdirtian? Hitler, that's who.

    ...

    What do I win?

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    Oblate (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 10:16am

    The next target for Gaijin Entertainment: ge.com

    Fortunately, they're in luck due to the explosion of new TLD's: gaijin.asshats is still available.

     

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

  7.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 10:16am

    I am very interested in how this will make all its way to Hitler. Oh wait....

     

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

  8. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, May 7th, 2013 @ 10:18am

    Not only anomaly, but no action beyond a letter.

    Meets Techdirt standards for game-related, lawyers, and obvious villain to boo for the ginned up "two-minutes hate" -- heck, this villain is even GOLDSTEIN!

     

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

  9.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 10:20am

    Re:

    According to techdirt trolls Mike is the evil reincarnation of e-Hitler that came to take all those poor musicians and grocery stores workers in e-concentration camps (most commonly referred as bittorrent swarms). Or something. The e- prefix gives that XXI century feel that is missing from Godwin Law.

     

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

  10.  
    icon
    Baldaur Regis (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re:

    Three boxes of SABAM laundry soap, delivered to your door by gaijin ninjas.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Rich, May 7th, 2013 @ 10:35am

    Re: Not only anomaly, but no action beyond a letter.

    You aren't supposed to drink wood-grain alcohol.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Goldstein, May 7th, 2013 @ 10:35am

    Re: Not only anomaly, but no action beyond a letter.

    I... What?

     

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

  13.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm laughing hard at your comment because SABAM sounds like the Portuguese word for soap (sabão). Have my personal funny vote dear sir.

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 10:45am

    Re:

    I'm thinking that Time Travel or Necromancy are the most likely options at this point.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 10:48am

    Re: Not only anomaly, but no action beyond a letter.

    uhhh....

    I propose a new category to go along with week's "funniest" and "most insightful"

    it will be called "Wtf troll... just... wtf"

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    gnudist, May 7th, 2013 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Not only anomaly, but no action beyond a letter.

    Most insightful posts tend to be responses to trolls so you kind of have that now since there's a link to the original thread/commen(and thus the troll) in the insightful awards

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 10:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Not only anomaly, but no action beyond a letter.

    yea but what insightful comment can follow this magnificent piece of insanity??

    This is on level with watching an old man demand his child be returned to the bank from a flower in the middle of a busy street.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Noah Callaway, May 7th, 2013 @ 11:08am

    Gaijin Entertainment, not Gaijin Games

    Just as a heads up to any gamers that may be considering sending off angry e-mails: There are several games companies with the name Gaijin. The offender in this case was Gaijin Entertainment (ent.com/en/games/navigation/57/).

    There is another company that would be easy to confuse with this action. Gaijin Games (makers of the excellent BitTrip runner games) are not involved in this action as far as I can tell.

    Just want to make sure we all point our angry in the right direction.

     

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

  19.  
    icon
    t3rminus (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 11:14am

    Of Note...

    Of note is that this is "Gaijin Entertainment" (http://www.gaijinent.com/), makers of the MMO-flying-sim War Thunder, not "Gaijin Games" (http://gaijingames.com/), makers of the BIT.TRIP series.

    You'd think people would be more confused with these two, as opposed to some random website that just happens to use http://www.gaijin.com...

     

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

  20.  
    icon
    t3rminus (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 11:17am

    Re: Gaijin Entertainment, not Gaijin Games

    Augh! Beat me to it by 6 minutes.

    +1 for directing Awesome Vibes at Gaijin Games
    +1 for directing Angry E-Mails at Gaijin Entertainment

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 11:18am

    Re: Gaijin Entertainment, not Gaijin Games

    Good call Noah, Gaijin Games are good people.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 11:31am

    if Congress hadn't have made such a fuck up of the patent/trademark/copyright laws, this situation wouldn't arise. if Congress were to correct the fuck up they made in patent/trademark/copyright laws, these situations would then be few and far between. i appreciate, however, that it may mean a reduction in their bank accounts, but they should think of the smaller amount of work that would then be involved for everyone. would that not be a better option??

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 11:33am

    Domain Seizures

    Now imagine what would happen if warrantless seizures of allegedly infringing domains were the rule of law.

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 11:33am

    Re: Re: Not only anomaly, but no action beyond a letter.

    I think that rewarding the trolls by pointing them out would only further encourage them and new ones.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 11:55am

    I'm impressed!

    Twenty-four comments in, and not a single one spouting the "oh, they had to do this or they would lose their trademark" BS.

    Well done, Mike - I think your educational efforts are starting to pay off!

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Sunhawk, May 7th, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Why?

    I imagine it's mostly to look gracious in any upcoming court action.

    "See? We disputed it vigorously, but we were kind enough to not go public about it without giving them a chance."

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not only anomaly, but no action beyond a letter.

    The trolls aren't in it for the recognition. They're in it for the money.

     

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

  28.  
    icon
    Nastybutler77 (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Of Note...

    No kidding. Why isn't GE suing GA for trademark infringement? Or vise versa. That would at least make sense. More sense than this, anyway.

     

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

  29.  
    icon
    ChrisB (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 12:09pm

    Re:

    Trademarks are not about protectionism, but about protecting consumers. There is not much wrong with trademark laws.

    Patents/copyrights are totally messed up and are grinding the technology industry to a halt, and justifying massive spying on individuals. They should be curtailed or sh!tcanned altogether.

    I'm clarifying because they tend to get lumped together and are not the same.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 12:11pm

    Re:

    And the most insightful comment goes to... someone who doesn't know what gaijin means.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not only anomaly, but no action beyond a letter.

    Trying to use logic and reason with that one is like trying to get Sheldon Cooper to comprehend sarcasm.

     

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

  32.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 12:22pm

    Re: I'm impressed!

    Which means he is more effective than any RIAA or MPAA education campaign to date.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re:

    Unfortunately Trademark infringement cases do not start with "Could the consumer be confused?". Just ask all the Olympic Pizza's that lost their name to the IOC!

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    S. T. Stone, May 7th, 2013 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re:

    Gaijin is a Japanese word meaning "non-Japanese", or "alien". The word is composed of two kanji: gai (外), meaning "outside"; and jin (人), meaning "person" – thus, the word could also, in some contexts, be translated into English as "outsider".

    I know Wikipedia doesn’t exactly count as the most reputable source of information these days, but…

     

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

  35.  
    icon
    Keroberos (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 1:32pm

    Poetic Justice

    I think a suitable punishment for these guys would be for the court to order them to change their name from Gaijin Entertainment to Baka Entertainment, then there'd be no possibility of confusion about what kind of asshats you're dealing with.

     

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

  36.  
    icon
    Keroberos (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Since this is also the translation used in the trademark listing, I'll go with that definition.

     

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

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 1:49pm

    I really hope they come after me for trademark infingment on My tatto, that simply reads "Gaijin". this will be fun.

     

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

  38.  
    icon
    Watchit (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 3:42pm

    Re:

    Personally, I am offended you didn't shoehorn in a nazi joke in there...

     

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

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 4:25pm

    Re:

    Just for you they will claim patent infringement instead, ya know cause the method of applying Gaigin causes the tattoo artist to, ya know, use Gaigin. :)

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 4:31pm

    Re: Re:

    Gaigin=Gaijin, twice. Sheesh! And Clavell is one of my favorite historical fiction authors.

     

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

  41.  
    icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 4:47pm

    Re: Re: Gaijin Entertainment, not Gaijin Games

    Gaijin Games sure are good peeps. I met their dev team at Blip Fest 2009. Some of buddies in the Chip Music scene (like Anamanaguchi, Minusbaby (who did the artwork for my album The Aftermath) and Bit Shifter) have their music in their Bit.Trip games.

    My favorite would have to be Bit Shifter's "Strange Comfort".

     

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

  42.  
    icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 4:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Gaijin Entertainment, not Gaijin Games

    Sorry, "Some of buddies" should be "Some of MY buddies".

     

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

  43.  
    icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 5:03pm

    well... might as well

    despite, no, because Mr. Godwin is involved... this seems like a case for... Copyright Nazis

     

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

  44.  
    icon
    John85851 (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Cases like the Olympic Pizza/ IOC don't have much to do with customers confusing one company with another, but with the customer assuming there's an endorsement. Obviously Olympic Pizza has nothing to do with the IOC, but the IOC doesn't want people to think the pizza place is an official sponsor when they haven't paid the licensing fees.

    This is the same reason why no one can say "Super Bowl" any more because they fear the NFL will sue them for using those words without paying the licensing fees.

    Sorry to get off-topic.

     

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

  45.  
    identicon
    S. T. Stone, May 7th, 2013 @ 8:47pm

    Re: Re:

    Too easy. Low hanging fruit's for suckers and OOTB.

     

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

  46.  
    icon
    Bergman (profile), May 7th, 2013 @ 9:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And yet, Washington state still retains both the Olympic Mountains, the city of Olympia and Mount Olympus. Apparently a U.S. state is too big for the IOC to bully.

     

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

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2013 @ 10:57pm

    Just uninstalled War Thunder, after popping into about 20 instant actions and letting everyone know what was up in broadcast. Fortunately I never spent any money with them but I was reaching the point where I likely would have had I kept playing.

     

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

  48.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 1:36am

    Re: Re:

    What do you think it means? I remember taking some Japanese classes a few (OK, a lot of) years ago where I learned that the definition for that word was essentially "foreigner". So Stone's comment in correct with that definition in mind.

    Which definition do you use?

     

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

  49.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 2:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not only anomaly, but no action beyond a letter.

    They should be in it for the lulz since Blue gets a LOT of them - admittedly about him/her/it though

     

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

  50.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 2:55am

    Re: Re: Of Note...

    Quick kneejerk assumption? They just want the domain name, and this is easier/cheaper than trying to get them to sell it through normal channels (or they've already failed to buy it and this is their response).

     

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

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2013 @ 5:39am

    Re:

    No, next will be GaijinPot. gp.co.jp

     

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

  52.  
    identicon
    D, May 8th, 2013 @ 11:48am

    Re: Not only anomaly, but no action beyond a letter.

    OOTB - go stuff yourself and stop making yourself a laughing stock. You must be really, REALLY thick-skinned (or maybe just thick?) if you don't realise that everyone is laughing at you. Your comments are not needed.
    Oops - just fed the troll. Never mind, I could do with a bit of sophisticated entertainment, which I certainly won't get from OOTB.

     

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

  53.  
    identicon
    kitsune361, May 8th, 2013 @ 12:39pm

    There are so many ways...

    There are so many ways to pull this off without being a jerk.

    If they REALLY wanted the domain name they could have offered to buy it for the ludicrous amount of money they're paying their legal council. They could come up with an agreement to buy the domain if the guy ever stops using it (some sort of right of first refusal if he ever sells the domain). If they were really interested in disambiguation they could have asked for a link on the guy's page ("if you're looking for Gaijin Entertainment...").

    Instead they sic the lawyers on a blog that's been around since nearly the dawn of the commercial internet. /facepalm

    If they're so worried about such a tarnishing of their mark, why haven't they gone after Gaijin Games yet?

     

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

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 13th, 2013 @ 4:30am

    Re: Re: Of Note...

    Could it be because they're sitting on the GaijinPot?

     

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


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