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.

Filed Under: ,
Companies: entrepreneur magazine, entrepreneur media inc.

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Comments on “Entrepreneur Magazine's History Of Suing Entrepreneurs For Using The Word Entrepreneur Gets More Attention”

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15 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

I didn’t even know there was such a thing as an Entrepreneur magazine, but I am familiar with the word entrepreneur. Maybe I’ll have to create a business with another common word trademarked and start suing for violations. I could use the money, and hey, isn’t creating such interesting businesses something which would get me featured in magazines for entrepreneurs and other such business people? Maybe something related to music or movies just to help drive the point home.

steve davidson (profile) says:

I'm going to trademark "the"

Recently I got a cease and desist letter from a lawyer claiming their client had a trademark for “city deals” (and sure enough, he did) …. seriously…we are becoming a country of opportunistic lawyers and politicians vs. entrepreneurs and thinkers. Next, the fed gov is going to give someone a trademark for “the” at which point, some lawyer will want residuals fer every time I comment…crap, I probably owe someone $10 bucks after this posting.

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