There’s an interesting article in Bloomberg today about the owner of Entrepreneur magazine (Entrepreneur Media), which operates Entrepreneur.com. It seems that the company aggressively defends its marks for the term, “entrepreneur.”
In September of 2010, Austin entrepreneur, Daniel R. Castro, received a cease and desist letter from Entrepreneur Media with regards to his domain name, EntrepreneurOlogy.com. The domain name has been registered since 2004, and it appears to have been bought sometime between the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010. Interestingly, domain investor Page Howe appears to have owned the domain name in December of 2009.
Instead of simply handing the domain name over, Castro took preemptive legal action against Entrepreneur Media and filed a lawsuit. According to the Bloomberg article,
“In April a federal judge dismissed 12 of Castro’s 14 claims but said he could continue to pursue his allegation that EMI’s core trademark is invalid. As described in his court papers, Castro’s argument is that “the public has not come to associate the word ‘entrepreneur’ exclusively with EMI’s products or services.” The word, he adds, “is a generic noun that is in the public domain.”
It looks like Entrepreneur Media may have messed with the wrong domain name owner, who also happens to have a law degree. This is going to be an interesting case to follow, and it will hopefully be seen by legal council for other companies that operate on generic/descriptive terms that want to own everything associated with those words.
Interestingly, someone emailed me with a link to Entrepreneurs.com, which has more information about attempts to trademark the term, “entrepreneur.”