Entrepreneur Magazine Sued For Allegedly 'Defrauding' The Trademark Office

from the longshots dept

In the past, we’ve covered the rather despicable actions of Entrepreneur Magazine, acting as a trademark bully and going after real entrepreneurs for using the word “entrepreneur” in various ways. It seems counter to the magazine’s mission of celebrating entrepreneurs to sue others making use of the word. Unfortunately, Entrepreneur Magazine has actually been somewhat successful in many of these lawsuits. Scott Smith, who has been in a decade-and-a-half-long tussle with Entrepreneur Magazine, has recently added a new legal effort to the long history between them: he’s suing Entrepreneur Magazine for supposed “fraud” on the trademark office. Among the claims Smith is making:

  • April 1999: EMI filed sworn documents with the PTO claiming that it was currently using the Entrepreneur Expo name, even though EMI ceased doing so several years earlier.
  • February 2006: EMI submitted a staged photo to deceive the PTO into believing that EMI was still using the name Entrepreneur Expo. The photo was staged by tricking EMI’s then editor to pose in front of a low-budget sign that read, “Welcome to Entrepreneur Expo.”
  • December 2003 and August 2006: EMI tried to cover up its fraudulent activities by filing new Entrepreneur Expo trademark applications, but eventually abandoned those efforts.
  • November 2006: EMI submitted the same marketing piece it had previously submitted in May 1999, to deceive the PTO into believing that EMI was still using its “small business expo” trademark. But Scott discovered that EMI goofed-up by leaving its old address – for an office EMI had moved out of by at least February 2000 – exposed.
  • November 2010: EMI submitted sworn documents claiming that it was currently using the Entrepreneur Expo name. EMI deceived the PTO by slapping an Entrepreneur EXPO logo onto its Facebook page for its 2011 Growth Conference.
  • May 2011: EMI deliberately failed to renew its “small business expo” trademark to escape Scott’s fraud claims and avoid judgment.

A few points on this: Smith is filing his lawsuit pro se (i.e., by himself, without a lawyer), which is quite frequently a big warning sign for a lawsuit that may be pretty weak (though that’s not always the case). Also, in the 14 years or so that Smith and Entrepreneur Magazine have been going through legal disputes, Smith’s track record is not good. Entrepreneur Magazine basically keeps winning, over and over again.

That said, beyond the ongoing oddness of Entrepreneur Magazine suing an entrepreneur, it’s difficult to see how “entrepreneur expo” isn’t a generic term. Doing a quick Google search turns up a ton of examples of the phrase “entrepreneur expo,” with most of them not appearing to be associated with Entrepreneur Magazine at all. Smith also claims that the magazine itself has not been using the mark.

Given the history here, it seems like Smith has a pretty big hill to climb to convince a court of this one, but even if that’s the case, the whole thing just looks bad for Entrepreneur Magazine. There certainly is a lot of focus on trademarks these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to go after actual entrepreneurs.

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Comments on “Entrepreneur Magazine Sued For Allegedly 'Defrauding' The Trademark Office”

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17 Comments
Yasha Heidari (profile) says:

A for effort, F for execution

Although I hate IP abuse (and wish Smith the best of luck), I see a number of issues with his complaint– ranging from problems with standing to assert some of his claims to issues involving following the federal rules of civil procedure.

Smith isn’t doing anyone any favors by filing his suit pro se, either. Every victory gives EMI favorable precedence it can use in the future.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t know if Smith has any chance of winning this, but the whole thing smacks of what Tim Langdell did with the word Edge used in relation to computer games. It eventually took EA to get a judgement to have the trademarks invalidated.

Locking up a generic term like entrepreneur is pretty ridiculous, but is there an entity with enough clout to counter it? One guy on his own, particularly one without proper legal support, doesn’t stand much of a chance (although good luck to him).

Entrepreneurman (profile) says:

pro se litigants, personal and anonymous attacks

Thanks to Mike and Techdirt for their stories about trademark bully Entrepreneur Magazine’s “despicable” attacks against entrepreneurs that use the word entrepreneur.

For the record, I filed “pro se” because like probably 99% of all individuals and small biz owners, I cannot afford $250,000 or more for a law firm. Also beware of Entrepreneur magazine shills abusing Techdirt’s reader comments system with hate-filled rants and personal attacks that will be anonymously posted or using fake names (ironically, Entrepreneur magazine was started by a convicted bank robber using one of his numerous fake names!). People under the intense pressure of trying to cover-up years of blatantly defrauding a federal agency can get very desperate and angry. What you won’t see from these shills is credible proof that Entrepreneur magazine ever produced any of their so-called “Entrepreneur Expo” or “small business expo” events during the time-frame in question, and possibly not since the 1990s.

jesse says:

Scott Smith looking for another 15 minutes. Talk of credibity. He calls himself the president of a non-existent company, Bizstarz.
He is the one who is deperate, frustrated and angry. Entrepreneur bought him to Debtor’s Court to try to enfore their non-dischargable judgement for willfully, intentionally and deliberately infringing on their trademark.
For the record what is his record of being an entrepreneur?
He hasn’t done anything in over 14 years but file lawsuits and go to court.
And I also agree with the standing comment. Just like he keeps hanging his hat on some $10 million sanction against EMI that was never actually brought about. He thinks he would get that money even if it was enforced.LOL!
What will Scott Smith bloviate about next? Oh, I know. We are all shills for Entrepreneur. Facts be damned.
Get a real job Mr. Smith.

Robert says:

After reading Scott’s complaint I think he doesn’t having standing in most of his arguments. Also some of the case law he used is not relevant to his argument. It will interesting to see the response of opposing counsel. I think they will ask that it be thrown out and they very well might get it. Especially give his record.
He is going to have a tough time arguing he is the aggrieved party when he was found guilty of willful infringement against the defendent.

gary s. says:

I think Scott Smith could possibly pull a rabbit out of the hat. Afterall he was cofounder, CEO, and president of Public Auto Expo in Sacramento before an Unlawful Detainer and lawsuit were bought against him. Interesting, was he evicted from a used car lot? And used car salesman are held in such high esteem.
But that’s just Scott Smith who’s been a lifelong entrepreneur. A used car lot. How avant-garde! And look how that idea has caught on. You should have patented it Scott.

mark f. says:

SCOTT SMITH DEBTOR EXAM

Very interesting that Scott Smith has been ordered to Debtor’s Court by Entrepreneur Media on January 16, 2013. That could be a reason that he has an ax to grind with Entrepreneur. I guess they want to try to get some payment against their nondischargeable judgement against Smith. They probably think he is hiding funds to use to sue them on his baseless claims. I’m sure it is just a coincidence that there has been a rash of copper wire thefts in Citrus Heights recently.

dave c. says:

SCOTT SMITH DEBTOR EXAM APRIL 17, 2013

Once again Scott Smith has delayed the legal process. Apparently he has no attorey to defend him. While the judge has asked several times there still is no attorney of record. Probaly some mystery illness. I would surmise Smith will go pro se and make a fool of himself when the judge finally stops giving him these delays.
Oh well, you can’t SQUEEZE BLOOD from a deadbeat.com

Nicola Cairncross (profile) says:

Entrepreneur Mag going after Entrepreneur domain names now

A good friend of mine has just been contacted by Entrepreneur Magazine and told to change her domain name because it contains the word “entrepreneur” which apparently they have tradmarked. How can that be even possible? Has Yaro Starak of Entrepreneurs-Journey.com had a similar letter or is he too high profile to target? Are we now to see big corporations trademarking one word and then going after anyone, no matter how established the website, who has that one word in their domain? Bullying at it’s finest and shameful of Entrepreneur Magazine – just shameful.

rick c says:

SMITH IS A MASSIVE FRAUD

I dislike Entrepreneur’s attacks on small business. I’m a small business owner who had to change my name also. But Scoot Smith isn’t doing another any favors at all. In fact he is making things worse for us. I don’t know what’s going through he mind. His company’s website isn’t active at all. You would think a so called entrepreneur would actually be ONE. Does anyone know what he has actually done for the last 15 years but whine and sue and loose? In court papers he actually states that Bizstarz has NO VALUE!!!!!!

Bill says:

SCOTT SMITH LAZY DEADBEAT

Smith continues his mindless, baseless and meritless lawsuits. Apparently he plans to appeal his latest loss to the Court of Appeals going pro se. a definite glutton for punishment. But at least he still has his trademark lawsuits to keep him busy. Incredibly he really hasn’t had gainful employment for about 2 decades unless you count his intentional infringement on Entrepreneur Magazine who by the way has slapped him around in every court case he dreams up. Can’t he simply get a job and be productive citizen instead of constantly sucking from it.
His “sperm donor” would be proud if he was alive and sober.

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