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  1. #1
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    * InMotion Hosting emails us a Trademark Violation letter?

    I have received the letter below from keywords{at}inmotionhosting.com

    For which I had replied:

    "Which keyword/s are we bidding on that's trademarked? I'm not aware of bidding on any brand specific keywords. Have you sent us this in error?"

    I have not received a response as of yet. I know for sure that we do not bid on any trademarked or branded keywords so I want to know why we have received this email from InMotion Hosting in the first place. We are not and never have been a client of InMotion.


    Hello,



    We are writing to let you know that you are bidding competitively in multiple search engines

    and shopping bots for keywords that involve the InMotion Hosting trademark or phrases related

    thereto. We’re sure there was no harm meant, but this is a violation of the search engines and shopping

    bots’ bidding policies, and of trademark laws.



    Therefore, in order to protect InMotion Hosting’s trademark, we must ask that you cease and desist all

    such bidding immediately, and notify us in writing that you have done so.



    If you fail to make the changes to your bidding process, we may have to take legal action.



    Thank you very much for your prompt assistance in this matter, please contact us with any questions.



    Best Regards,



    Trademark Team

    InMotion Hosting, Inc.
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  2. #2
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    Ask them for proof that those keywords are trademarked if they can give you the actual words they feel is trademarked. Their are literally 1000's of keywords to use for bots for "hosting" them trademarking one of even several is a bit strange...

    To me this sounds like your getting ranked higher in search results then they are and you and them are using the same key words which is not unheard of for sure...

    I only live 5 minutes from their office in Va. Beach Virginia and have been their many times :-)
    No Need for one...

  3. #3
    IMHO, you best talk to a lawyer rather than ask a forum full of (mostly) non-lawyers. But InMotion Hosting does have a U.S. trademark (serial # 85187611).

    I may be mistaken but...is InMotion a member here?

  4. #4
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    @MSHMatt

    I was hoping they could be specific as I have still not heard a response from them as of yet. I know for sure that I did not bid on any trademarked or branded keywords so I would like to know why I was sent this letter from them. I believe they either owe us an explanation or if sent to us in error an apology, rather then not hearing any response.
    Last edited by JixHost; 09-12-2013 at 09:30 AM.
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  5. #5
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    I'm not paying a lawyer everytime some @sshole sends threats.
    If they have an issue, they need to prove it. What you got was a generic nothing.
    Life too short for BS legal threats.
    Last edited by kpmedia; 09-12-2013 at 09:43 AM.
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  6. #6
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    They do need to be specific as to what "keyword" they claim a trademark on. The keyword InMotion is probably the only thing they would have trademarked. They may have some other business names, but again they would need to provide those to you. I just did a search on "hosting inmotion" and got ads for InMotion, but also for Google, and GoDaddy..

  7. #7
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    Just add "inmotion" to the list of negative keywords in your PPC campaign. You might not be bidding on their trademarked terms but your ads might come up anyway.

    For instance, if you're bidding on "hosting reviews" and someone searches for "inmotion hosting reviews", your ad can come up.
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  8. #8
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    I would recommend not posting legal emails on a public forum.

  9. #9
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by stablehost View Post
    I would recommend not posting legal emails on a public forum.
    Good advice
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  10. #10
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    I take it inmotion is not among your keywords?

    Scaremongering?

  11. #11
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    @ stablehost:

    It's my understanding that in the United States all legal matters can be made public domain unless there are minors involved or specifically sealed by a judge.

    @ gingir

    inmotion is certainly not one of our keywords or in any of our keyword phrases.
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  12. #12
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    I agree with the others that they should've been more specific.

    Quote Originally Posted by stablehost View Post
    I would recommend not posting legal emails on a public forum.
    That stuff should be kept private even though it can be made public. I'd just rather keep it private.

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JixHost View Post
    @ stablehost:

    It's my understanding that in the United States all legal matters can be made public domain unless there are minors involved or specifically sealed by a judge.

    @ gingir

    inmotion is certainly not one of our keywords or in any of our keyword phrases.
    You have the right to post anything you want, this is America after all.

    However, anything you post publicly (that anyone can also read) can be used against you in court.

    It's just best to not go public with legal matters.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by stablehost View Post
    You have the right to post anything you want, this is America after all.
    However, anything you post publicly (that anyone can also read) can be used against you in court.
    It's just best to not go public with legal matters.
    One of the problems with this is that it allows companies to prey on more people this way. By keeping silent, you may be doing more harm than good. When stuff like this comes out, I often notice "hey, me too!" coming from the woodwork. Maybe it's the old-school journalist in me still, but I'll go public. I refuse to be bullied by companies, and I refuse to stay silent if I think something shady is going on.

    That's the decision you need to make. Keeping quiet can be the wrong move. You may not be the only victim, and there is strength in numbers.

    I read an example of this just last week in The Atlantic. One of the now-disbarred law firms was suing unjustly, pressuring people into settling. They collected millions. Why did that happen? Because they all kept quiet, until one person had some balls and fought back. It was a domino effect after that. F- that.
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  15. #15
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    InMotion Hosting emails us a Trademark Violation letter?

    It's probably best to wait for a response from them directly via email. It's very unlikely your get a response from them on WHT.

    However, they should have provided you with the keywords that they believe are violating their trademark(s).
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  16. #16
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    I would not yet take this seriously. They have to specify exactly what you are doing wrong to violate their trademark. All they have said is they believe you to be using keywords, but have no exactly stated what those keywords are.



    Disclaimer - While I, personally, am not a legal adviser. I happen to have had one next to me (for other reasons) and in my free time was surfing WHT. Laws very internationally and regionally, so this may or may not apply to you. You are better offer getting your own professional legal aid if this matter really is of concern to you.

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  17. #17
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    I do not see an issue with this personally being posted here, reality speaking there is no real current legal action being enforced by InMotion. However, in saying this as said previously this could be used as evidence if or when it did proceed down that path (if InMotion) chose to do so.

    I would take this as a threat without evidence by them to back up their claims, you do have that right to request the information as to what they state is being trademarked or what is a violation to their trademark.

    Do let us know how you progress with this as it would be great to see what does happen or what form of a reply you get from the company itself.
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  18. #18
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    They have just replied to my email with the keyword and upon checking... yes, it was there for which I promptly removed. I use Googles keyword tool and did not realize it would generate a branded keyword. Of the few thousand or so keyword/phases I did not see any other branded keywords. Moving forward, I will scrutinize more closely it's results.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by JixHost View Post
    They have just replied to my email with the keyword and upon checking... yes, it was there for which I promptly removed. I use Googles keyword tool and did not realize it would generate a branded keyword. Of the few thousand or so keyword/phases I did not see any other branded keywords. Moving forward, I will scrutinize more closely it's results.
    Exactly what was the keyword?

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  20. #20
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    It was a phrase that included "inmotion"
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  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by kpmedia View Post
    One of the problems with this is that it allows companies to prey on more people this way. By keeping silent, you may be doing more harm than good. When stuff like this comes out, I often notice "hey, me too!" coming from the woodwork. Maybe it's the old-school journalist in me still, but I'll go public. I refuse to be bullied by companies, and I refuse to stay silent if I think something shady is going on.

    That's the decision you need to make. Keeping quiet can be the wrong move. You may not be the only victim, and there is strength in numbers.

    I read an example of this just last week in The Atlantic. One of the now-disbarred law firms was suing unjustly, pressuring people into settling. They collected millions. Why did that happen? Because they all kept quiet, until one person had some balls and fought back. It was a domino effect after that. F- that.
    If anything, one just ought to be careful what s/he says or posts online, that's all.

    Thankfully, InMotion Hosting saw fit to send a notice to resolve the issue rather than just sue in court directly. Some people just file a lawsuit without trying to patch things up first, whether out of spite, principle, or of seeking a challenge.

  22. #22

    Thanks- Trademark issues

    Hello,

    Thanks for the kind reply Dave! I work with InMotion as one of their Community Support reps and we monitor posts on the web and this is a great topic of discussion. I appreciate the sentiment - both the reply about keeping this type of discussion in the open and also the query of the legality of the action taken. This is information that should be taken seriously, especially with the explosion of social media and the importance of this issue in terms of search engines and branding.

    For us, there has been closer scrutiny on the brand name due to the importance of the name in regards to the changes in SEO (especially with Google). This should be something to keep in mind for any company trying to keep their brand in the clear.

    We also do try to work things out without having to end up in court. We would much rather settle things amicably without having to involve the legal system. Thanks again for the opinions and your consideration. Let me know if you have any further questions.

    Regards,
    Arnel C.
    <<snipped>>
    Last edited by bear; 09-13-2013 at 08:34 PM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arn-IMH View Post
    Hello,

    Thanks for the kind reply Dave! I work with InMotion as one of their Community Support reps and we monitor posts on the web and this is a great topic of discussion. I appreciate the sentiment - both the reply about keeping this type of discussion in the open and also the query of the legality of the action taken. This is information that should be taken seriously, especially with the explosion of social media and the importance of this issue in terms of search engines and branding.

    For us, there has been closer scrutiny on the brand name due to the importance of the name in regards to the changes in SEO (especially with Google). This should be something to keep in mind for any company trying to keep their brand in the clear.

    We also do try to work things out without having to end up in court. We would much rather settle things amicably without having to involve the legal system. Thanks again for the opinions and your consideration. Let me know if you have any further questions.

    Regards,
    Arnel C.
    InMotion Hosting Community Support Team
    Thanks for coming to settle things on the board Arn, though you may want to read the forum rules with regards to signatures too.

  24. #24
    We also received one of these letters from them, claiming - actually, stating as a fact - that we were using a specific phrase that included their name, and that we were bidding against them on that phrase, something that is entirely untrue. Rather annoying, since we have never used that particular phrase in any campaigns (why would we?), certainly have never had their name as a keyword, and nothing of the sort appears in our list of keywords at Google (our list at Google hasn't changed in eons).

    I would suggest to them that before they start sending off vaguely threatening legal missives stating categorically "You are using our trademark!" that they step back and click the little question mark that pops up next to Google-generated searches, where they would find Google generates ads based "on your search terms" - which could include the portion of this particular phrase that they do not own and cannot trademark, since it's a generic phrase. Or, they could choose the Ad Settings link from that very popup and find Google's reasoning for some of the ads:

    Search terms
    This ad matches terms similar to the ones you entered.

    Similar. Not exact. And not proof that anyone is bidding on any sort of trademark whatsoever. Somehow I doubt GoDaddy and Network Solutions are appearing in these searches because the "similar" portion of the phrase is the inmotion name, given that they likely have no idea who inmotion is, nor would they care.

    The ONLY ad that appears that matches the exact phrase they provided to us, based on Google's reasoning? Their own.

    Since there was nothing for us to remove, we dropped their name into our negative keywords list, because that's certainly how I feel about them now.
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  25. #25
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    And just like that, the "hey, me too!" has begun.

    To InMotion: Your legal department is apparently sloppy. Fix that. Start by NOT sending vague blanket letters.
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  26. #26

    Warnings on Trademark violations

    Yes, it doesn't take long for others to air their grievances on issues. I don't know enough about your case, Annette, so I sent a query to the Customer Care manager and also asked around about the process for issuing these warnings. When I found more information on the subject I'll post what I can. I also agree that taking the issue through a two step process - friendly warning to a more strongly worded warning- wouldn't be a bad thing.

    If there is a mistake -as you appear to be pointing out, Annette, then you simply need to reply to the message and request clarification. We're not perfect. Getting feedback on these issues helps us to improve our processes and make us better hosts.

    Thanks for the time and consideration!
    Arnel C.

  27. #27
    I would not say this is a "me too" as much as it is a gripe about what I see as poor behavior - if the topic hadn't been here, I'd have created it. I am not a fan of frivolous legal threats, as quite a number of people know, especially when they start off categorically stating as fact something that is not true (and beyond that, something they couldn't possibly even know) and then when it appears they don't seem to understand how search engines work or can't use the very tools provided by places like Google to show why such and such an ad appeared. Searching for "Jim's pet supplies" is going to bring back boatloads of results, most of which have nothing to do with Jim and his supplies and a lot to do with pet supplies as a generic term.

    Arn: I did indeed reply to the first vague notice (also referenced by the OP) asking what on earth it was talking about, and then civilly, but quite firmly, to the followup sent to us, indicating that we were not now, nor have we ever, had inmotion as a keyword for anything in any campaign. After which I did in fact dump inmotion into our negative keywords, as I've no interest in our name appearing (even by Google's associations of other terms) in a search of any company who has just falsely accused us of trademark violations.

    My suggestion for your two step process about this particular issue would involve thinking more about Occam's Razor: which is more likely? That this giant cabal of hosting providers all decided to use "inmotion web hosting review" as a phrase? Or is it more likely that a portion of that phrase, minus the inmotion name, causes ads other than inmotion's to appear in the results that are offered? The latter is quite clearly explained by Google themselves if someone had been more concerned about getting it right than getting out however many threatening emails they thought needed to be sent. My suggestion would also involve not sending quasi legal things from the "Trademarks Department" with no name attached, like those annoying bogus Chinese domain use things - which almost got deleted, by the way, until a duplicate of the same vague notice landed in our helpdesk - and would involve consultation with an actual attorney, who would have cautioned about the immediate confrontational nature of that notice (i.e., "You're using our trademark, stop!" when you have no credible information that this is the case), or cautioned about having such notices sent at all, given you have zero evidence that anyone is stepping on anyone else's trademarks, or cautioned that only the attorney should be sending such notices, via physical mail, to whoever was the recipient of them.

    I'll also add this:

    We keep a list of providers of services that we do not provide (or don't want to) - it could be Windows hosting, for instance, or someone wants a mirror of their site elsewhere in addition to within our network, or something else. We base that list on what we know of the companies on it: have they been around for awhile? Are they free of bait and switch tactics? Do they have recurring massive downtime issues for which they give vague reasons? Are they known to have vanished under one name due to issues, financial or otherwise, only to reappear under another? There are a whole list of questions we ask ourselves, because we are, in a way, putting our reputation on the line by making any such recommendations. One of the most important is this: do they act ethically and responsibly? Acting responsibly includes not putting themselves in situations where they could conceivably find themselves paying out massive amounts of money to parties they have accused of wrongdoing because they did not bother to adequately research their claims - or because the person to whom they sent their little gem is having a bad day or is just itching for a battle because they are well aware they are in the right and has the time and the inclination to deal with it. I don't right now, as we have a variety of different projects in motion, and my response otherwise would have been akin to McAuliffe to the Germans at Bastogne, or to pretty much everyone's reaction to the MCHost debacle (oldtimers, alert!).
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  28. #28
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    Is there actually any law/bi-law that forbids bidding on a word that had been trademarked ?

    If that's the case then wouldn't the responsibility fall on top of the ad agency since it is them that's making the word available for bidding ?

    I would classify this as legal bullying.
    Last edited by lonea; 09-13-2013 at 04:46 PM.
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  29. #29
    Thanks for clarifying on the event as it occurred for you, Annette. Our Customer Care manager (one of several customer advocate groups within our company) came to me and mentioned that the issue is going up the ladder, so I should see some further information on the issue shortly (hopefully by next week). It's interesting as I've heard that we've also received these same type of warnings from other larger hosting companies. Not to justify our own actions, but just to mention that you apparently aren't the only ones. I'm not sure of the trademark laws on this as I am not a lawyer or part of the legal group. However, I do care about how we interact with our customers and about our brand, so I want to make sure we are doing the right thing. If no one has done it already, you might interested in checking out Google's Advertising Policies - my group's been reading through them with interest as well, and I'm forwarding them "up the chain" in regards to this issue.

    Thanks again for the discussion! My goal in all of this is simply to make sure that we're treating people fairly and doing the right thing.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by lonea View Post
    Is there actually any law/bi-law that forbids bidding on a word that had been trademarked ?
    None specifically in the U.S., although Google's contract says something about that act. Probably a next best thing, the Lanham Act prevents one from commercially exploiting a party's trademark without their permission.

    If it helps, Arn, get your company's "stakeholders" (i.e. legal, marketing, social media) together. Although that's (hehe) pretty obvious, everyone can then share their concerns and (hopefully) find ways to address them with minimal negative impact.

    For example: legal says the company must enforce their trademark or risk losing it, then social media says the way the company handles that issue might needlessly draw them flak. Something along those lines.

  31. #31
    Inmotion just sent me an email thanking me for our "cooperation".

    Let's make something very clear here: there is no "cooperation" going on. We have never used the inmotion name as a keyword, period. Had inmotion raised a complaint with google about a possible trademark violation, google would have told them exactly the same thing when they investigated - just as they would/will no doubt do the same for the ads for GoDaddy, NetSol, LiquidWeb, Amazon, etc., as neither those places nor we have any need to be so unethical as to use another company's name as a keyword. That is the only part of the phrase provided that belongs to them, and rereading the original followup they sent, they actually wanted ALL of the words in the phrase they provided ("inmotion web hosting review") removed and added to the negative keywords list. Guess what: not happening. You, inmotion, do not own the words web, hosting, review, or any combination thereof. What google shows as results on some phrase that MAY include your name doesn't have squat to do with that name being used in any keywords for the companies whose ads appear, and I'm seriously reconsidering my addition of inmotion to my negative keywords list (population: one, done both out of courtesy and disgust).

    This latest little note is once again from the "trademark team". Apparently the "team" needs a lot more education about making presumptions on who is violating what based solely on the output of ads by a search engine, and I would, once again, seriously suggest that you consult an actual attorney.

    Ionea: as Dave Zan points out, here in the US the Lanham Act would probably cover it. Regardless of that, the onus not to use trademarks without permission or under certain circumstances is on the person creating the ad or content, not the search engine. They have policies in place regarding that use, just as service providers often have policies in place telling people not to engage in copyright/trademark violations; however, again, that is something controlled by the end user, not the provider. The service provider should have a policy of investigating complaints regarding these things - Google has a whole section about it, hosts generally have abuse addresses to write - but they can't possibly know every single thing that may be trademarked, or that someone is utilizing another party's content without permission, etc., unless they're notified about alleged infringement.

    I will say that in my opinion, it's terrifically unethical and morally wrong to lift other peoples' content (text, photos, etc.) for use or use another party's trademark in keywords for advertising purposes when not authorized to do so. I am about as much a fan of those types of people as I am of copyright/trademark/patent trolls - that is to say, I am not a fan of either of those two groups at all.

    Dear readers: sorry for the minirants. As I said, I'm no fan of this sort of thing, and less a fan of little legal bombs being tossed about that have no basis in reality.
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  32. #32
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    Shouldn't InMotion be filing with Google itself, they have built-in trademark/copyright protection stuff built-in to ad serving to prevent this exact problem from occurring. Not only does it prevent people from placing ads on protected terms it also prevents the long tail combination that this case is referring to.

  33. #33
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    I really think InMotion doesn't know what they're doing here.
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  34. #34
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    Anyone with a trademark can have the trademarked specific keyword unusable on Google Adwords.

    After filing a complaint with Google, you can also authorize specific AdWords accounts to use your trademark, including your own AdWords account or those of any partners or affiliates you may have

    Google will not restrict the use of your trademark in AdWords ads unless you submit a valid complaint, even if your trademark is registered.

    https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/2562124
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