In the latest example of extreme trademark abuse, video game company Gaijin Entertainment is not just claiming a trademark over "gaijin" but using it to demand the domain name Gaijin.com
, which was registered by Brandon Harris back in May of 1995. The legal nastygram that the company sent is quite incredible, suggesting that Harris registered the domain later and is somehow infringing on their mark:
It came to our attention that you registered and maintain a website www.gaijin.com
(“Infringing Website”) that infringes Gaijin Mark. By maintaining and offering to public your
content via the website, i.e., Infringing Website, having the same domain as Gaijin Mark, you
create consumer confusion and mistake as to the source, sponsorship and/or affiliation of the
Infringing Website and Gaijin, thereby infringing Gaijin Mark.
Luckily, Harris has Mike Godwin (yes, that Mike Godwin
, so get your Nazi references in early) as a lawyer, and he quickly sent back the following excellent response.
Dear Mr. Goldstein-Gureff,
Please be advised that my client, Brandon Harris, disputes your trademark-infringement claim in every particular.
That is the most polite way to state how vigorously we dispute your attempt to assert flat ownership of the word “gaijin,” a word so well-established in English that it is an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Currently, I’m advising my client to publicize your demand letter, so that the entire game-consuming public will be made aware of your client’s overreaching trademark assertions. In addition, we will of course continue to make clear that Brandon Harris’s website in no way gives rise to any kind of marketplace confusion of the sort that American trademark law is designed to address.
In the interests of allowing you and your client to gracefully retract your claim, we have chosen to refrain from publicizing your demand until you respond to this message, provided that you respond no later than close-of-business Monday. Since I am currently in DC, Eastern time applies.
P.S. I understand that your clients are possibly Russian nationals. You may wish to explain to them the scope and limitations of the Lanham Act in the United States.
Obviously, they did not retract the claim in time, and thus, the trademark bullying is now public.