When Lawyers Send Letters
4Chan founder Chris Poole, who has gone by the username Moot since 2003, has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Oregon-based startup Moot.It, a yet-to-launch company that promises to reimagine forums and commenting. We initially suspected the letter might be a prank from /b/, but confirmed with Mr. Poole’s lawyer, Martin Schwimmer, that it is indeed real.
Mr. Schwimmer, a partner at White Plains law firm Leason Ellis, writes that because Mr. Poole is so closely aligned with the username Moot, any attempt by Moot.It to use the name could result in confusion from users who may wrongfully believe Mr. Poole is associated with the company.
Attack of the Clones
Last week, GroupMe*, the popular group messaging app acquired by Skype in late August–filed a complaint in Southern District of New York against Groupie, another New York City-based startup. Their stated motive: to “remove the ‘cloud’ of uncertainty” around the GroupMe trademark.
In the filing, GroupMe stops just short of calling Groupie a trademark troll. Funny, we’re more accustomed to hearing about the patent kind.
The startup world is rife with clones and copycats, fueled by the ease of opening up shop on the web. You can find ads on Craigslist shopping for scripts to rip off entire sites. But typically it’s the small fry who are aping the success of their larger, more established rivals.
So the folks at New York based Paperless Post were a little taken aback when they saw Postmark, a new offering from Evite, which looked to them like a total clone of their product.
To make their case, Paperless Post laid out for Betabeat the nitty gritty details of the overlap between Postmark and their service. To them, it copied the user experience and design assets, right down to individual cards. Everything had an eerie familiarity, from the pricing scheme to the name.
“We kind of stumbled on it while redesigning our logo,” said Alexa Hirschfeld, who founded the site with her brother James. “We were checking out the competitors and when we got to Evite’s postmark we had one of those moments, it was actually confusing, looking at it and then at our site, realizing we had been cloned.”
The Tao of Steve
After a hard-won battle, Twitter has successfully trademarked the word “tweet,” according to The Telegraph, under the argument that Twitter made the word famous. Well, we’d be onboard with that.
But apparently Twittad, the ad network that lets power users blast out sponsored tweets, had got to the word first in 2008, trademarking the tagline “Let Your Ad Meet Tweets.” Later, Twittad’s lawyers argued that “because Twitter’s own users had come up with the term themselves it was entitled to seek ownership.”
New York Publisher John T. Colby filed a lawsuit against Apple in federal court in Manhattan today for trademark infringement over the use of “iBooks.” Colby’s suit alleges that in 2006 and 2007, he purchased assets owned by another New York publisher, Bryon Preiss, who had published more than 1,000 hardcover and paperback books under the “ibooks” name starting in September 1999.
Apple does have a trademark on “IBOOK,” but according to the suit, it only applies to computers. (Apple once sold a PC known as the “iBook). Colby alleges that Apple didn’t use the term to apply e-books or a means of delivering e-books until the iPad debuted last year. If Apple starts applying it to e-books and apps, the suit says it will render Colby’s trademark worthless. But that’s not the only trademark suit Apple got smacked with this week.
Apple is ready to play hardball with Fei Lam, the teenager from Queens who built a six-figure business selling parts for the unreleased white iPhone 4.
According to Lam’s attorney, Andrew M. Jaffe, private investigator Jimmy Robbins, who first contacted Lam, was working for Apple.
But when Jaffe called Robbins, he was informed that Robbins Read More