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.”

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Comments on “Overzealous Trademark Holder Tries To Stop Blogger From Using The Phrase 'Branded Community'”

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Your Gawd and Master says:

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”

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re:

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


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.

Shohat says:

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.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: 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.

BlowURmindBowel says:

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…


Think that will get me a letter?

Okeefinokee says:

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.

Tony (user link) says:

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.

I'm Robert S. Frankel Bitch! says:

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!

Dick Frank

John Duncan Yoyo (profile) says:

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.

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