David Vs Goliath, Network Marketing Company Threaten Legal Action!

22 replies
Oops! This morning I received a telephone call from the MD of a very large home shopping company based in the UK. He made it short and sweet.

Nice phone call , please stop bidding on our 'trademarked term'. I f you do not comply I will refer it to legal dept.

The ad headline, and description text does not contain the term, however the url does have the term within its string! In fact the url resolves to a very similar web address!

As a precaution I suspended the adwords campaign and sent an email to Google explaining the position.

Google emailed back and found nothing that violated their terms of service. At present I still have the campaign paused!

The Hammer Blow

5pm same day I receive a email from Hammonds LLP, big law firm, with legal threats to issue high court proceedings! Trademark infringment! funnily enough the email they sent was to another email address from a completely different web property I own!!

Apparently I had agreed ( verbally ) to not only suspend adwords campaigns using their term, but also remove all sites concerned with or implying to anything to do with their company & brand.

They have sent me a follow up letter by post and include a legal letter they are asking me to sign which asks for an awful lot! In fact i'm not sure the letter they have asked me to sign is itself legal!

Fellow warriors, surely someone on this forum has a little more experience and or has had a similar situation. Any advice would be really appreciated, I haven't included the url at this time but have no problem including it if anybody would like to take a look.

P.S I have not used the site as a kicking ground to slag off this company, in fact I have both sides of the coin and offer industry related content training and comment.

P.P.S In fact on second thoughts I will include the url, perhaps more experienced warriors can pick over the site, and guide me more accurately.
here is the url The Truth Report, What Your Sponsor Will NOT tell You! | Kleeneze The Truth Report
#action #company #david #goliath #google tos #intellectual property #legal #marketing #network #threaten #trade marked terms #trademark dispute
  • Profile picture of the author jaybaker
    First off I would suggest you have a lawyer look over the letter and determine if it is legal. Then I would pause/remove all utterance of their keyword even if it is "blackmail" I don't think you want to be paying their hefty fine.
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  • Profile picture of the author awmi
    Just curious: Kleeneze is a registered trademark in the UK, correct? If it is would you have done the same thing for "British Airways" "Liverpool FC" or "GlaxoSmithKline"?

    I am not an attorney but I think it's a big risk.
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    • Profile picture of the author David Hooper
      Having been in court on the receiving end of a lawsuit, I can tell you that it's something that would be best to avoid.

      With that said, don't let these guys bully you, if you feel what you're doing is ok. It's doubtful they're doing anything more than blowing hot air. Legal notices don't come via email...
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      • Profile picture of the author Kradrion
        Personally, I would stop this campaign and steer totally clear around it.

        To me, it's not about David vs Goliath. It's the productivity issue.

        I'd rather spend my time doing other money-making activities than wondering about the uncertainty here.

        As online marketers, we all had campaigns that don't work. If I may, I'd like to suggest you consider this one of them, leave it at that, and go work on another new campaign.

        Just my 2 cents, not intended to offend anyone. Peace.
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  • Profile picture of the author mainstreetcm
    I do agree that legal paperwork does not come via email. That needs to come via registered and traceable mail. But as I tell everyone, find a lawyer, one that will talk to you before payment. They are a phone call away and I would encourage you to utilize that.
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  • Profile picture of the author TPFLegionaire
    love your site...but you really need a lawyer to review the situation...

    good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author johnpetrov
    Just replace the word "Kleeneze" with another fictitious name - and you'll be fine.
    (This is not a legal advice)
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  • Profile picture of the author Pauline60
    Having had a look at your site I can see why The Kleeneze management might be a bit rattled about it.
    Just wondering why you have included their name and taken a risk in doing so when you are apparently not venting against them specifically but just highlighting the low points of MLM generally. Why not be bit more vague and not name anyone?

    Are you really a failed Kleeneze distributor?
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  • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
    It doesn't take much to figure this one out....

    kleeneze is apparently a famous UK brand with the website kleeneze.co.uk

    You register www-kleeneze.co.uk to market the "truth report"

    Now you come in here talking about David v. Goliath?

    I'm not going to mince words ...

    You're not thinking straight.

    Here's some advice:

    1. Beg a moderator to delete this thread so it won't be used against you in court.

    2. Delete the content off your infringing website. Try something appropriate, such as, the-truth-report.co.uk

    3. I don't know what they're asking you to do - but you're on the edge of a cliff. They're about to destroy your life.

    You apparently don't seem to recognize the seriousness of the situation - or the inappropriateness of your actions.

    If you have any questions about this advice, or whatever is being requested of you in the legal demand, do not waste your time submitting another post to the forum. Immediately locate a local attorney and get some advice.

    Now.
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  • Profile picture of the author derekwong28
    Something almost identical happened to me a few years ago. The MD of a major distributor of a major electronics company in the UK e-mailed us saying that we were bidding on his company name. I certainly wasn't doing it.

    However to my horror, when I went to google.co.uk, our ad did appear when I typed his company in the search box. Therefore the issue was completely with Google! I wonder whether the same thing had happened in your case? However, I do not have a url issue as in your case.

    Derek
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Adams
    They are just trying to scare you. Their issue is not with you, its with Google. Its Google's call.

    You have just as much of a right to bid as they do. I am sure that there are many companies out there with the same name. Just because one is bigger than the other, doesn't mean that the smaller cannot advertise their site using adwords. By their logic, they should contact your hosting company and take your domain name.

    Tell them to jump in a lake.
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  • Profile picture of the author keithoz88
    Hi,

    It seems that you registered www-kleeneze.co.uk to market the "truth report"
    and then did a pisstake on MLM in general but using kleeneze as a specific example. You do appear to have slagged off on them and they have grounds to be annoyed with you.

    You didn't appear to have a valid, specific complaint against them but used them as an example of what you believe is wrong in that industry.

    Whether you are right or wrong is irrelevant as law is more a game of negotiation between vested interests than one of right and wrong. Unfortunately they have the resources to make your life miserable and you should cut and run to conserve your time, energy and peace of mind.

    Your attitude can remain one of "screw em" but don't lose a war (fighting for financial freedom and happiness etc) over a small battle.

    Post an apology and then respond to them (both lawyers and the company directly) in writing detailing that apology and your withdrawal of the offending material. The chances are very high that a company manager will make the decision to abandon the expense of any further action (it costs them a ****load of money).

    Meditate on it, have a beer or two then move on mate. Good luck

    Your attitude can remain one of "screw em" but don't lose a war (fighting for financial freedom and happiness etc) over a small battle.
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  • Profile picture of the author E. Brian Rose
    1. "funnily" is not a word.

    2. If you are infringing on a trademark, then you are in the wrong.

    3. Lawyers do use email these days. You will get a letter in the regular mail that is a copy of the email.

    4. This is not a David vs Goliath situation. In that story, the little guy was the good guy.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kierkegaard
    There are worse cases of legal bullying that this.

    You can (probably) breathe easy in that these people are usually satisfied if you just stop using their name. They don't want to take you to court.

    Other cases are ridiculous and worth fighting. I said in a previous post how I once included a famous celebrity in a post about people who were formerly radio DJs. A few days later I got a email from his lawyers demanding that I remove his name from the post.

    It actually turns out that this guy is particularly litigious and anyone who posts anything with his name on gets similar emails.

    In your case, the company do seem to have a legitimate complaint.
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  • Profile picture of the author txconx
    I would imagine one thing they're taking issue with is your use of their trademark name in your domain name. In that case, they're asking you to not only remove their product, but the entire web site and delete the domain name. They are entirely within their right to do so, as you are infringing on their trademark by using it in the domain name.
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    • Profile picture of the author VegasGreg
      Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

      It doesn't take much to figure this one out....

      kleeneze is apparently a famous UK brand with the website kleeneze.co.uk

      You register www-kleeneze.co.uk to market the "truth report"

      Now you come in here talking about David v. Goliath?

      I'm not going to mince words ...

      You're not thinking straight.

      Here's some advice:

      1. Beg a moderator to delete this thread so it won't be used against you in court.

      2. Delete the content off your infringing website. Try something appropriate, such as, the-truth-report.co.uk

      3. I don't know what they're asking you to do - but you're on the edge of a cliff. They're about to destroy your life.

      You apparently don't seem to recognize the seriousness of the situation - or the inappropriateness of your actions.

      If you have any questions about this advice, or whatever is being requested of you in the legal demand, do not waste your time submitting another post to the forum. Immediately locate a local attorney and get some advice.

      Now.
      Listen to that advice! You are using a trademarked name. You are NOT allowed to do that and you can (are) in a heap of trouble. That is why over and over we tell people not to register and use domains with trademarked names, especially when you ARE try to monetize off of that company.

      Originally Posted by Mike Adams View Post

      They are just trying to scare you. Their issue is not with you, its with Google. Its Google's call.

      You have just as much of a right to bid as they do. I am sure that there are many companies out there with the same name. Just because one is bigger than the other, doesn't mean that the smaller cannot advertise their site using adwords. By their logic, they should contact your hosting company and take your domain name.

      Tell them to jump in a lake.
      Do NOT listen to this advice. This is NOT a Google issue. (To my knowledge, you CAN bid on trademarked names as long as your site/ad does not mention that name). The issue is that the site/domain is infringing on another companies trademark.
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    I looked up kleeneze and it's pretty obvious that you are infringing on their trademark. I would delete the site with kleeneze in it's url and stop bidding on their tradename. This company has been around a long time and I'm sure that they have guns big enough to squash you in court. Is it really worth it to you?
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  • Profile picture of the author Iceblue
    I inadvertently registered a domain name a couple of years ago, then about a month later I was told to drop the name as they would take me to court. They are a very large company with a team of lawyers who have no other purpose than to guard the domain name.
    I emailed them back told them I would remove everything, and would cease to use the domain name.
    You could go to icann as they have a dispute process, but if I were you I would throw in my cards unless you a lot of money to play with.
    You should always check if your domain name is going to anger a business that has put in the time and effort to build their brand.

    Kevan
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  • Profile picture of the author Mary Green
    As far as bidding on their trademark, you can bid on any keywords that google allows ads for, but the URL itself is a definite issue (in my small legal realm of thought). However, there is the whole different countries issue as well. They may be bullying you, but... ethically and possibly legally its not right to piggyback their site and deter people from doing business with them..
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    • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Mary Green View Post

      As far as bidding on their trademark, you can bid on any keywords that google allows ads for, but the URL itself is a definite issue (in my small legal realm of thought). However, there is the whole different countries issue as well. They may be bullying you, but... ethically and possibly legally its not right to piggyback their site and deter people from doing business with them..
      Many companies have terms that state that you cannot bid on their trademark name if you are an affiliate and they will ban you as an affiliate and not pay you if you do. However, Google allows it.

      Google Wins Legal Battle Over AdWords Trademark Issue In Europe

      There is no dispute in my mind that he is infringing on this company's trade name with his domain and is in for a battle he does not want to fight if he does not get rid of that domain, and by getting rid of it, I mean delete it or give it to kleeneze
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  • Profile picture of the author Janice Sperry
    Before I ever buy a domain name I always do U.S. and International trademark searches. You never know what may be trademarked and it is not worth it to find out later.
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