Disaster Preparedness Company Thinks People Shouldn't Be Allowed To Use The Words 'Emergency Essentials'

from the PLEASE-DELETE-FROM-YOUR-VOCABULARY dept

Some entities cling to the belief that if a trademark isn't vigorously and ridiculously "defended," it will slip out of their grasp. This attitude has led to legal action (and legal threats) over common English words, with the complainant often bypassing any sort of reasonable confusion claims and heading directly towards claiming the entity "owns" certain words. (See also: "Super Bowl," "footlong" and "monster.")

Bateman IP Law Group, representing a company called Emergency Essentials, LLC, sent a cease and desist letter to a website owner, claiming its client has exclusive rights to the words "emergency essentials."

Dear Ms. [Recipient]:

We represent Emergency Essentials, LLC. with respect to certain intellectual property matters. Emergency Essentials, LLC. and its predecessor has been operating for more than 25 years selling food storage and other emergency supplies. Emergency Essentials has spent substantial amounts of money in developing goodwill in its marks and has a large number of U.S. Trademark Registrations, including Registration Nos. 3,665,475; 3,659,764, 3,582,153; 3,582,152; 3,574,562; 3,571,179; 3,571,178; 3,571,177; 3,571,176; 3,571,175; 3,571,174; 3,571,173; 3,571,172; 3,568,952; 3,568,951; 3,439,473 for the mark EMERGENCY ESSENTIALS.

It has recently come to our attention that the website, www.theemergencylady.com. for which you are listed as the registrant, has been using the mark "EMERGENCY ESSENTIALS", as in the webpage found at www.theemergencylady.com/emergency_essentials_001027.html. (see exhibit, attached).

While Emergency Essentials appreciates the work your website is doing to promote emergency preparedness, it is also required to enforce its trademarks against those who are using the marks in such manner as may lead to a likelihood of confusion. After reviewing the website, we believe that consumers may incorrectly associate the website as being from or affiliated with our client. Therefore, we would respectfully request that you change the description on the website to replace the trademark "Emergency Essentials" with terms such as "emergency supplies," "emergency provisions," "emergency goods," or some other term which does not use our client's trademark. Likewise, we would request that you do not use "Emergency Essentials" unless you are referring specifically to our client.

Within 10 days of this letter please confirm that you have ceased all use of our client's mark. We appreciate your cooperation in this matter and wish you the best with your endeavor. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Very truly yours,
[Attorney Signature]


Enclosure: Exhibit [A print out of the web page at www.theemergencylady.com/emergency_essentials_001027.html]
Seeing as this was sent Feb. 26th and the page is still live, the Emergency Lady was completely unfazed by the bogus claims, even when confronted with a hard copy of her own post. "Save a trademark, kill a tree," as the saying goes. While Emergency Essentials, LLC has done an admirable job of pushing down web results that make use of its registered trademarks place these two words next to each other, there's still plenty of work to be done in terms of completely eradicating any "confusing" use these common English words.

Here's CNN with a list of emergency essentials. Here's Dr. Oz with another. Here's an emergency essentials list created by the Texas Department of Health.

Any feelings that the average person might confuse an "emergency responder in a rural area's" personal website with a company that markets dehydrated food and other disaster preparedness supplies reside solely in the vivid imagination of the company's trademark protection squad. And Bateman IP isn't just going after small-time website owners. It's also suing bigger names as well.

Here's its current lawsuit against Amazon for providing competitors' products in response to search results for "emergency essentials," as well as under the tag itself. Two C&D notices, sent three years apart, ask the online retailer to refrain from showing competitors' products on this "page" or in search results. Good luck with that.

But here's the most ridiculous aspect of Emergency Essentials, LLC's war of words. For a company so easily irritated by the use of common English words, it has no problem borrowing a well-known phrase as its own URL.

http://beprepared.com/

But this is apparently OK because the site carries the following disclaimer at the foot of the page.
EMERGENCY ESSENTIALS, LLC IS NOT AFFILIATED, ENDORSED BY OR HAS ANY RELATIONSHIP WITH THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA®.
Thanks for clearing that up. If it's good enough for the BSA, then one imagines a small disclaimer hidden somewhere at Emergency Lady's site or Amazon itself should eliminate any customer confusion without having to use awkward phrases or remove content. It seems incredibly hypocritical to pursue a site that sells no product but uses certain words while operating a site that sells products conceivably related to the general outdoorsiness of Boy Scouting under the name beprepared.com. (This URL choice likely has something to do with a legal battle over a domain name [theemergencyessentials.com] that doesn't seem to have panned out for the company.)

The letter claims the company is "required" to "enforce its trademarks" in situations of possible confusion, but there's nothing in trademark law that stipulates misguided actions like this one. A district court judge summed it up thusly:
The owner of a mark is not required to constantly monitor every nook and cranny of the entire nation and to fire both barrels of his shotgun instantly upon spotting a possible infringer.
That's certainly what appears to be going on here.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 3:20pm

    Please oh please oh please

    Tell me that Malibu Media made a porn flick called "Emergency Essentials".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 3:45pm

    Who's on First ...

    On Amazon.com, a product named "Emergency Essentials" is sold by a company named "Trademark" ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 3:53pm

    Gotta google first

    If you're not Googling every phrase before you publish it to make sure it's either not trademarked, copyrighted, or somehow patented (I'm sure that's the next step, somehow patenting word combinations), then you're just asking for trouble.

    /s

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    velox (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 4:07pm

    The owner of a mark is not required to constantly monitor every nook and cranny of the entire nation and to fire both barrels of his shotgun instantly upon spotting a possible infringer

    Owners of law degrees however, must monitor every nook and cranny for the existence of billable hours.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 4:15pm

    Lost my future money.

    Yet another company I now choose to never do business with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 4:16pm

    Ignorance is bliss, or at least legally safer

    That may have been sarcasm, but the funny thing is, with the law as it currently stands, that is the absolute last thing a company should, or would, do. If they get sued and didn't know about a particular copyright/patent/trademark, then the resulting fine they face is lower.

    If it can be shown that they did know however, then it moves into the realm of 'willful infringement', and the potential fine amount gets drastically higher.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 4:42pm

    I just put together

    My own emergency essentials kit in a large rubber container. It primarily consists of essentials in case of an emergency.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 8:39pm

    Dear Ms. [Emergency Essentials, LLC.:

    We represent "with respect LLC" & "intellectual property LLC" and would,like to discuss your recent letter to dear MS. recipient ....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 8:55pm

    Re: Ignorance is bliss, or at least legally safer

    You know what's now going to be the comeback on those that don't google soon though don't you... that wonderful phrase "reasonable person"

    Since Google is becoming ubiquitous with searching anything I can see a time when if you didn't do even a basic search (though google is NOT the place to do jurisdictional trademark searching) then their would be accusations of willful intent due to the inaction of not 'googling'.

    On a similar stupidity it seems a whole bunch of US firms are now sending C&D's on Trademark to International websites, companies, & individuals trying to enforce US trademarks. What is happening over there? do you not have to do a core class regarding IP or something to get a JD anymore?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Bill Jackson (profile), Jun 13th, 2014 @ 4:01am

    I hereby grant Emergency Essentials, LLC, the moniker of "Super Dumbassees of the Century LLC", I want them to trademark it and then go to a law firm and get them to write a letter

    "Super Dumbassees of the Century LLC with respect to certain intellectual property matters. Super Dumbassees of the Century LLC and its predecessor, Intergalactic Idiots LLC has been operating for more than 25 years selling food storage and other emergency supplies. Super Dumbassees of the Century LLC has spent .......and so on"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 6:06am

    The good news is that the owners of "Emergency Essentials" will not go hungry when everything stops buying their products because of their dickish behavior.

    However, they will just have to survive on dehydrated beef strips and canned vegetables.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 6:59am

    To be fair, though, this is one of the nicest C&Ds I've seen. While they're over-reaching, as least they're being polite about it. No threats or thuggery, no ominous warnings about consequences, they just "respectfully request" that she ceases using those two words together.

    It's kind of refreshing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 7:10am

    Re:

    Dear sir,

    We represent Respectfully Request, LLC. with respect to certain intellectual property matters. Respectfully Request, LLC. and its predecessor has been operating for more than 25 minutes providing cease and desist orders for companies in need. Respectfully Request has spent substantial amounts of money in developing goodwill in its marks and has a large number of U.S. Trademark Registrations.

    It has recently come to our attention that you have used the term "respectfully request" in a comment on the website www.Techdirt.com.

    While Respectfully Request appreciates the work your comment is doing to promote people not being asshats, it is also required to enforce its trademarks against those who are using the marks in such manner as may lead to a likelihood of confusion. After reviewing the comment, we believe that consumers may incorrectly associate the comment as being from or affiliated with our client. Therefore, we would respectfully request that you change the wording in the comment to replace the trademark "Respectfully Request" with terms such as "nicely ask," "meekly would like," or some other term which does not use our client's trademark. Likewise, we would request that you do not use "Respectfully Request" unless you are referring specifically to our client.

    Within 10 minutes of this letter please confirm that you have ceased all use of our client's mark. We appreciate your cooperation in this matter and wish you the best with your endeavor. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Very truly yours,
    High-paid, morally ambiguous attorney

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    froonium (profile), Jun 13th, 2014 @ 8:31am

    If they had a lick of sense...

    They really need to google "emergency essentials" often and instead throwing the C&Ds out, email each and every one of those sites with the phrase and ask them (nicely) to link to the Emergency Essentials website. At worst, they get turned down or possibly get a request for a fee.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 8:49am

    Riposte

    Each recipient of one these C&Ds should follow EE's own model and add a disclaimer...

    Our use of the expression "emergency essentials" should in no way be taken to imply a connection with [a href="https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140530/04572827406/disaster-preparedness-company-thinks-pe ople-shouldnt-be-allowed-to-use-words-emergency-essentials.shtml"]Emergency Essentials, LLC[/a].

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 9:11am

    Can you guys add an "IP Emergency Essentials" product to the TechDirt store?

    Possibly a book on IP law, some instructions on how to respond to bogus C&D's, phone numbers (or 15 minutes of time from) an IP attorney, perhaps some kind of "don't be a troll" t-shirt?

    I'd put up some cash for one, but it would also be great to be able to gift one to someone being a jerk like this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Sheogorath (profile), Jun 14th, 2014 @ 8:16pm

    This is so stupid. Now, I can totally see this firm having a legit problem with another company calling itself Emergency Essentials and selling the same kind of stuff, but there's absolutely no need to go after sites for selling the same type of stuff under the heading of 'emergency essentials'. That's not the same thing at all, and is not trademark infringement in any way that I can see.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2014 @ 12:30am

    Re:

    Just like Apple lawyers

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    The Suzzzz, Jun 18th, 2014 @ 7:19pm

    Bullying By Means Of Threat Of Frivolous Litigation

    I just received a very similar email/letter today from that same company. My blog is a very small, non-profit, personal blog that I have never made a dime off of. In order to avoid any legal problems I immediately changed the title of my blog page about emergency preparedness to this:

    http://nachista.blogspot.com/p/roadside-emergency-preparedness.html

    If you read through my page it in no way, shape, or form sells competitors products, nor does it denigrate Emergency Essentials. If anything it promotes emergency awareness and encourages people to go out and buy product at their own discretion which can only help their company.

    What galls me is how unprofessional they were about the letter sent to me, my name is spelled two different ways in the email and the letter. The original email didn't have anything attached so the paralegal had to send it a second time.

    The attachment wasn't even a GOOD scanned copy of the letter. It looked like they had filled in a form letter, made a horrible black & white copy on a circa 1985 xerox machine, then scanned it in on the lowest resolution possible. The signature line is just a giant black box that looks redacted. The second page of my attachment is what I can only assume is a copy of my blog post or at least the title thereof, but is actually just a completely blacked out page. I've seen more professional looking correspondence from jail inmates.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Emergency Essentials, Nov 29th, 2014 @ 12:57pm

    Emergency Essentials

    Let's link my website to the keyword emergency essentials and see what happens. lol

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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