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Trademark Infringement

By JLP | March 24, 2006

Here’s what the letter says (most of it anyway):

“Accordingly, we demand that you immediately cease and desist from any and all use of the ALL THINGS FINANCIAL mark, or any confusinly similar designation, or any designation containg the term ALL THINGS FINANCIAL. This would include revamping your blog site, destruction of all business forms and a change of a name with the Secretary of State and any other administrative or regulatory agencies. We also demand that you immediately cease and desist from any and all use of the domain name allthingsfinancialblog.com or any confusingly similar or misspelled domain names, or any domain names containing the term ALL THINGS FINANCIAL, and that you immediately assign the domain name allthingsfinancialblog.com and any confusingly similar or misspelled domain names to First Horizon.”

Why do they wait until NOW to do this?

Topics: Miscellaneous | 28 Comments »


28 Responses to “Trademark Infringement”

  1. Jonathan Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    I bet you the read about you in the Money article. Double-edged sword, fame… :( Got any lawyer buddies?

  2. mapgirl Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    You know, I think Jonathan has a good point about getting an attorney. May be you could negotiate to keep the blog domain name and advertise them prominently to settle?

  3. MikeK. Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 2:14 pm

    Also, I would stop strategizing on the blog-site. Don’t want to give away the store…. Clearly these guys are reading everything written here. Good luck.

  4. Easy E Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    I don’t know if this will help you or not, but I just did a search for ‘The Money Tree’, the name of my blog. I already knew that it was trademarked, but their are actually 3 ‘LIVE’ trademarks that use ‘The Money Tree’. The 3 marks are ‘The Money Tree,’ ‘The Money Tree System,’ and ‘The Money Tree Corp.” If all 3 of these companies can happily co-exist without infringment then I don’t see why ‘All Things Financial Blog’ couldn’t be a valid trademark for yourself. I hope I don’t get a letter myself, I probably won’t because no one knows I exist. Good luck JLP!

  5. raising4boys.com Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    Yeah, I’m sure they saw you in the Money Magazine article.

  6. Bored Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 3:06 pm

    That Stinks!
    I don’t think that they want to spend any more money on litigation than you do…the letter is the just the proverbial “shot across the bow”.

    They’re just jealous that you get more traffic than they do! :P

    But it doesn’t mean they won’t spend the money if they have to…

    good luck with the change!

    p.s. “all things fiscal”….hehe

  7. coglethorpe Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 3:07 pm

    Ouch! All I can say is check with an attorney if you want to see if you can keep the name. I don’t think I would post much more here about the case. Perhaps look into trademarking the new name? I wish you the best!

  8. supermom_in_ny Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    OF COURSE! Some time ago, you were just a personal finance blog with a good amount of readers following your course in the blogosphere. Now you are in MONEY magazine and you pose a threat to them. Isn’t that how it always works?

    Just think, what comes around goes around. This may be a blessing in disguise, you can name it something else that might be more of what your blog has involved into today! Someday, you may be able to turn their money down and remind them of what they did!

    Just look at the bright side, your a big fish now!!!

  9. Inchoate Random Abstractions Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    This is NOT legal advice. If you consult an attorney, you’ll need to pay their hourly rate, which will cost you a heck of a lot of money. So, unless you’re really attached to All Things Financial, it probably won’t be worth your time or your money to dispute their claim. Also, to play devil’s advocate, they kind of had to send you a letter once they were put on notice. If you want to prevent your trademark from becoming diluted (e.g., Kleenex vs. Tissue, Xerox vs. Copy), then you really do need to go after everyone who is using your trademark. I remember when I first got out of law school, I had to send letters like the one you just received to owners of fan sites. It was pretty depressing. Some of these folks were just kids who were happy and excited about a specific product.

    Anyway, I’m sorry that this had to happen to you. Your legion of fans will still be coming back to this site, regardless of what you wind up calling it :-)

  10. Miserly Bastard Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 3:53 pm

    Do not roll over. You are not necessarily in violation. You should seek to settle this case favorably. They will be willing to pay you off rather than litigate. This is a no-brainer.

  11. Hang tough Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    First National failed or did not wish to register the domain name “all things financial”. I suspect that the domain name is legally yours and if First National really wants your rights to it, they should purchase those rights from you.

  12. Tom Weir Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 4:53 pm

    Just thought I’d point out to a finer point of law surrounding trademarks/domains: a domain’s registration status has no bearing on whether or not you are able to use it. Nor do squatter’s rights apply. If a legal entity (person, company, etc.) holds a valid trademark, they can go through a hearing process with ICANN to transfer the registration.

    Where things get somewhat sticky is that trademarks usually are limited to a particular industry sector. You may be able to argue that first national offers financial services, whereas all things financial is a publication. Its pretty weak, so I wouldn’t bet on it.

    My personal advice would be to settle. Offer to terminate use of the mark, and move your blog to a different domain name. Request that you be allowed to redirect web, aggregator, and email traffic for at least a year or two. This shouldn’t be a problem: they’re not interested in control of the domain, they just don’t want you to use the name.

  13. Gerard Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    Do not give up the domain name, but whatever you do don’t offer to sell it to them, also do not accept any offer from the trademark holder for the domain either. That can be construed as intent to profit from someone else’s trademark, and could lead to the domain being taken from you without compensation. The net is littered with examples of big companies making lowball offers for “potentially” trademark infringing sites, when the owner makes an honest counter-offer just to cover his costs in acquiring it: bang! Domain gone.

    Someone above is trying to steer you clear of getting legal advice, see if you can get his IP and do some homework on it. Sounds fishy. Not to say he’s not right, but get a legal opinion just so you can sleep easy on whatever path you take.

  14. BonnieG Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 6:36 pm

    What a nightmare! You know you are making it big time as an online “credit geek” when you receive your first letter from a lawyer!

  15. Eric S. Says:
    March 24th, 2006 at 8:10 pm

    Not to stir up the pot, but a quick google shows that they may have a hard time claiming to hold trademark on that phrase… First Tennessee claims *their* company’s slogan is “all things financial”. Since First Horizon has already apparently failed to defend their mark, they’ve lost it, haven’t they??

    – Eric.

  16. Inchoate Random Abstractions Says:
    March 25th, 2006 at 12:08 am

    Gerard – in case you’re referring to me, I’m not trying to steer JLP away from getting legal advice. I’m actually an attorney myself. And that would be kind of self-defeating, wouldn’t it? I was simply trying to warn him that it’s often times costly to consult an attorney. If you look at the comments that I made in an earlier post, I was actually trying to help JLP and other bloggers avoid the same mistake by doing a free trademark search at the uspto.gov website.

    Personally, I agree with Tom’s advice. But to clarify, All Things Financial is actually being used as a service mark for a financial newsletter/publication, not just for financial services. At least, that’s what I found on the uspto.gov website.

  17. e. david zotter Says:
    March 25th, 2006 at 1:01 am

    change it to “financially all things”…

  18. Steve Says:
    March 25th, 2006 at 2:08 am

    Eric – The two marks are registered for different purposes.

    I would suggest that First Tennesee actually has more of a claim to the domain name than First Horizon does due to their use of the mark for a financial newsletter. They may be related companies, don’t know for sure.

  19. thc Says:
    March 25th, 2006 at 10:02 am

    Sorry, man. This really bites. It’s the price of fame, I guess.

  20. Dave Says:
    March 25th, 2006 at 11:08 am

    Don’t back down man. I have sent you an email about what I think anyway but I think you have a pretty strong case.

  21. » Personal Finance Weekend Reading on Blueprint for Financial Prosperity Says:
    March 25th, 2006 at 12:26 pm

    […] All Things Financial is having some legal woes regarding his name. If you have any advice, we’re all ears. And, while he has changed the title of his blog, I’m not. I can call his blog whatever I want. […]

  22. Trainwreck Says:
    March 25th, 2006 at 1:11 pm

    With fame comes …. crap!

    Sorry Bro.

  23. Trent Says:
    March 25th, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    First Tennessee is a subsidiary of First Horizon.

  24. fivecentnickel.com Says:
    March 25th, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    Eric and Steve:

    First Horizon owns First Tennessee.

  25. Tim MMF Says:
    March 25th, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    That’s a bummer. I really have a problem with sites like godaddy or 1and1 selling names that are infringements. However, since you have blog in your URL you shouldn’t have to change it. However, changing the title name from AllThingsFinancial to AllThingsFiscal seems like a good idea. Best of luck w/ that situation.

  26. VS Says:
    March 25th, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    What if all of us write some “nice” emails/letters to the company and more importantly to newspapers/TV in the area First Horizon does the business. In my opinion it is just supidity on their part.

    VS

  27. Patrick Says:
    March 27th, 2006 at 10:30 am

    Just change the blog name to blogfinancialthingsall.com That would be great.

  28. SB Says:
    March 27th, 2006 at 11:39 am

    how about All Financial Things?

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