Entrepreneur Magazine's History Of Suing Entrepreneurs For Using The Word Entrepreneur Gets More Attention
from the entrepreneur-entrepreneur-entrepreneur dept
Last fall, we wrote about Entrepreneur Magazine’s ridiculous attempt to get an entrepreneur/writer/speaker who was pitching to use the name “entrepreneurology.com” to give up the domain. Trademarking the word “entrepreneur” seems particularly ridiculous, and BusinessWeek recently ran an excellent article detailing Entrepreneur Magazine’s history of suing entrepreneurs for using the word entrepreneur. It also, amusingly if somewhat tangentially, delves into the history of Entrepreneur Magazine’s founder (who is no longer associated with the magazine), who was arrested at one point in his career for robbing banks. Entrepreneur Magazine and its lawyers were not all that happy to cooperate with BusinessWeek on the profile, noting that they didn’t want to help a competitor, and also pointing to trademark lawsuits from BusinessWeek’s parent company Bloomberg.
Either way, it does appear, tragically and ridiculously, that Entrepreneur Magazine has won some of these previous lawsuits against other entrepreneurs. However, the creator of Entrepreneurology took the initiative and sued for declaratory judgment after receiving his cease-and-desist letter from Entrepreneur Magazine — and is trying to invalidate the trademark, claiming the word is generic and not at all associated with the magazine. Entrepreneur Magazine vehemently denies this, of course, but as BusinessWeek points out, the magazine’s own legal fights have argued otherwise at times:
In the litigious precincts of intellectual property, the aggressor inevitably finds itself chasing its own tail?and EMI and its lawyers have actually tried to use the “generic” argument to their advantage. In 2008, Ernst & Young, one of the Big Four accounting firms, sued EMI in federal court in New York, alleging that the publisher violated its trademark for an Entrepreneur of the Year award. The dispute over the prize dates to 1994, when Ernst first sent EMI a cease-and-desist missive aimed at Entrepreneur’s similarly named award. EMI fired back in a lawsuit in California that Ernst’s award trademark cannot be infringed because “entrepreneur of the year” is a generic term. In the end, Ernst and EMI settled their differences confidentially and out of court. EMI changed its award name slightly (nominations for “Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur of 2011” are now open), while Ernst is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its trademarked Entrepreneur of the Year program.
Oh, and you may note one other oddity in the paragraph above. Entrepreneur Media Inc., refers to itself as EMI. You have to wonder how it’s never been sued by the record label EMI, with which there could be actual confusion.