Do Morons In A Hurry Rent Moving Vans?
from the uHauled-what-now? dept
I recently became aware of yet another lawsuit where it looks as though a big companies with deep pockets appears to be bullying a small competitor through questionable use of intellectual property laws. The lawsuit was filed by uHaul against a small startup called HireAHelper, but also against HireAHelper’s founder and his wife personally. You can see the full filing here:
The main gist of the story is that Michael Glanz had signed up with a uHaul subsidiary, named eMove, offering his services as a mover. Later, Glanz ended up starting his own startup called HireAHelper, in part claiming that his experiences with eMove made him believe he could do a better job helping people find a variety of helpers (beyond just moving help apparently). Of course, here in the US, there’s a long history of people breaking off from a service or company they found inadequate and creating a better competitor. That’s competition, and it drives innovation. But, to uHaul, apparently it’s a threat that needs to be stamped out.
The lawsuit covers a variety of different charges, almost all of which seem questionable from what’s presented. The most complete charge appears to be trademark violations, but the two trademarks in question seem highly questionable by themselves: “Moving Help” and “Moving Helper” which are both generic and descriptive — which are two no-nos in getting a trademark. If we applied our ever popular moron in a hurry test, it seems unlikely that anyone (even folks who worked for uHaul) would be confused and believe that HireAHelper was somehow connected to eMove/uHaul.
After that, it appears that uHaul’s lawyers just threw everything they could think of at Glanz and his company: including copyright infringement (of what? not clear), “business method material” (here in the real world, we call that competition and think it’s a good thing), design logos (of what? not clear) and trade secrets. There may be more to the trade secrets claim, as the lawsuit provides almost no details other than to suggest that the trade secrets are from being a member of eMove — something that many, many, many other people are, so it’s difficult to see what the trade secrets are since most of the info is widely known.
Given how there are so many different claims without a clear explanation, I contacted uHaul by phone and email a week ago with a list of questions, hoping they might provide some more details and clear up some of the confusion over the lawsuit. To date, there has been no response (I can’t even get a “no comment” apparently). From what we’ve seen, it certainly sounds like uHaul is simply lawyering up to get a much, much smaller competitor to shut down, in part because he was better at getting his site listed well in Google compared to eMove. Consider it the crime of being a better marketer.