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InMotion Hosting emails us a Trademark Violation letter?

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  #16  
Old 09-12-2013, 06:57 PM
TheVisitors TheVisitors is offline
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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  
Old 09-12-2013, 07:36 PM
Sparrow-Sean Sparrow-Sean is offline
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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  
Old 09-12-2013, 07:41 PM
JixHost JixHost is offline
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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  
Old 09-12-2013, 07:55 PM
TheVisitors TheVisitors is offline
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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  
Old 09-12-2013, 07:58 PM
JixHost JixHost is offline
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It was a phrase that included "inmotion"

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  #21  
Old 09-12-2013, 08:00 PM
Dave_Z Dave_Z is offline
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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.

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  #22  
Old 09-12-2013, 08:38 PM
Arn-IMH Arn-IMH is offline
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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.
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  #23  
Old 09-12-2013, 08:56 PM
Sparrow-Sean Sparrow-Sean is offline
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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.

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  #24  
Old 09-13-2013, 08:19 AM
Annette Annette is offline
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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  
Old 09-13-2013, 10:16 AM
kpmedia kpmedia is online now
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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.
Your too good of a host to be tarnishing your image in this way.

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  #26  
Old 09-13-2013, 12:21 PM
Arn-IMH Arn-IMH is offline
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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.

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  #27  
Old 09-13-2013, 04:29 PM
Annette Annette is offline
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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  
Old 09-13-2013, 04:41 PM
lonea lonea is offline
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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.

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Last edited by lonea; 09-13-2013 at 04:46 PM.
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  #29  
Old 09-13-2013, 06:09 PM
Arn-IMH Arn-IMH is offline
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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.

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  #30  
Old 09-13-2013, 07:46 PM
Dave_Z Dave_Z is offline
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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.

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