Protecting your intellectual property is so important. Your name, logo, and business creations tell your customers who you are. So making sure that no one can steal your company’s brand is one of the first steps you should make when starting a business. We asked some of our small business experts if they had any IP horror stories from when they were first starting out. Here’s what they had to say…
“One of my client’s had its IT provider register its domain name, but the IT provider listed itself as the registrant. The IT provider had a mental breakdown and let the website go down before checking into an asylum. We had to file a domain name dispute with the National Arbitration Forum to get the registration back. It took several months until we received the favorable decision, during which time the client was without a functioning website. The lesson is make sure you are listed as the owner of your domain name rather than your IT provider or anyone else.” -Peter S. Sloane, Leason Ellis LLP, www.leasonellis.com
“About 4 years ago I was hired as a consultant, by one of the largest health care corporations in the US, to brand, create a concept, do research on the medical/health benefits of and then to choreograph a complete Tai Chi system that would world safely and appropriately in a physical rehab setting and to create an instructor training manual and lesson plan for the 8 week program. I was also asked to make two training DVDs, in both of which I was the only and featured instructor/trainer. Subsequently, I appeared in a table top flip top instruction book as the instructor image going through all of the moves. Because I was led to believe that I would be doing all of the trainings of those trainers using my program and that I would be the representative at all of the trade shows and expos where the program would be vended, and also because I had a previous good relationship with the company, I never balked when I was not asked to sign off on the IP, or the use of my image in the finished training product. I was paid only for the draft (a mere 10 % of the value) and then cut completely out of the project. Taking them to court was completely fruitless as the judge allowed them to use California laws due to New Jersey having no laws regarding this type of legal matter in the use of unauthorized images and IP use. That is my story.” -Khadi Madama, Yours Truly, Yoga TV, www.yourstrulyyogatv.vpweb.com
“I wrote a book, see below, which I unfortunatly submitted to Fit Pregnancy and the parent company Weider publications at the time 1990’s. They publish many books on bodybuilding and fitness and health. And have a bad reputation at least in bodybuilding circles which I knew, and I was hesitant to do any work with them, but they were the only game in town for prenatal exercise.
I was also hired for a 10 page article in Fit Pregnancy magazine that they tried to not pay me for. I ended up having to direct the entire exercise photoshoot as well as they had hired 2 x 20 yr old models that had never exercised a day in their lives. I had to use a lawyer to get paid. A measly $400 .
They not only claimed they never got my book manuscript, they used all of the info in my book as well as ideas I had had for other articles in the Fit
pregnancy magazine and never once credited it to me, just used their inhouse writers. However I am a pioneer on this topic, I was only one at the time, and the information in the magazine came from my book and list of articles every month and I still it to this day. My ideas, theories are just too obvious when I see them. And my newsletters are to this day read instantly when I send them by the senior editor in chief Peg Moline. (Constant contact sends me this data who reads what when). This woman has big issues with me. She was supposed to teach a class at the PumpStation in Santa Monica a few years ago, and when she saw my name on the list of attendees, she sent someone else. I have a feeling that certain doors that been shut for me over the years, have something to do with her.
I could however never prove anything with 100% certainty as you only have to edit anything 10% for it not to be suable.
I did find a publisher, St. Martins Press, so I don’t mind that they didn’t want to publish it , just that they have forever stolen my ideas. There are many many other horror stories in the path of Weider Publications. They are famous for using and abusing people.” -Birgitta Lauren, ExpectingFitness, www.expectingfitness.com
“Unilever stole my brand name to use as their own. It was the worst month of my life. I own www.disruptyourdiet.com and they decided to use it as their campaign name. It’s a fantastic story.” -Michele Burmaster, Surf City Fit Club, www.surfcityfitclub.com
“I am the president of MyDeejay, a disc jockey firm serving weddings and events throughout the Washington, DC metro area. Because I knew that our target clientele were very savvy consumers who research their major purchases, I aimed to include a ton of very detailed, helpful information on our website. To my disappointment, I apparently also trained plenty of other DJs around the world on what to say on a professional DJ site! I began finding my FAQ, advice articles, and even my own personal bio copied – sometimes slightly tweaked, sometimes not changed by even one word – on sites everywhere. This started around 2006-2007, and to this day, I still have my assistant monitor the Web for instances of our website being plagiarized, and I regularly contact the offending parties directly and/or submit DMCA takedown notices to their web hosts to have their sites suspended. I’d say over 400 DJ companies and other sites have stolen our text over the past 7-8 years. Copyright infringement is illegal, and when it happens on the web, it’s problematic on another level: the duplicate content damages both sites’ search engine rankings and can harm both businesses’ credibility in the field.” -Jennifer Reitmeyer, www.mydeejay.com, www.weddingiq.com, www.jenniferreitmeyer.com
“Enjoying the wealth of growth of their popular Australian wine brand in China with owner Treasury Wine Estates exporting 100,000 cases annually, Penfolds’ wines learnt a lesson regarding trademarking in other countries. Li Daozhi, a local Chinese businessman had previously taken measures to file for trademark protection for the Penfolds’ brand in its Chinese form (Ben Fu) for wine. As Penfolds grew in popularity with the increased distribution in China, Li Daozhi alleged trade mark infringement. This resulted in a large hotel chain which was one of the primary customers for the product, withdrawing Penfolds from its offering in July of 2013 for fear of being caught up in the legal proceedings. This wasn’t a one off either, with the businessman in question having previously registered a trade mark in relation to French wine maker, Castel, leading to a court action for infringement and a US$5,000,000 damages award.” -Paul Thompson, Trade Marks at Fisher Adams Kelly, www.fisheradamskelly.com
“I’m an inventor with a product called swiggies, wrist water bottles. I spent years working 2 and 3 jobs to start my business and patent and trademark my product. One day I decided to Google wrist water bottle to see which retailers were selling my product. I was shocked to pull up pages of Chinese websites with my patented product being worn by me (my likeness is a copyright), and my own copyright pictures of my product. When I called them they spoke perfect English as they tried to sell the counterfeit version of my own product, but once I told them it was my patented product, suddenly they didn’t speak English. I’ve managed to get rid of most of them, but you constantly have to stay on top of it and monitor your own IP.” -Julie Austin, www.swiggies.com
Let us help you protect your intellectual property with a Trademark or Copyright! Give us a call at 1877-692-6772 or visit us at www.mycorporation.com!