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.”
Great article and I sincerely hope Mr. Castro prevails against Entrepreneur Magazine.
Entrepreneur Media Inc. deserves a lot of bad press for their bullying tactics. Especially since they have done it so many times before, the entrepreneurpr story in the article is especially egregious.
Entrepreneur Magazine sent me a C&D letter a few years back as well when I filed a trademark with the word entrepreneur in it (not primary word, but secondary) for my last media company. You’d think they would have better things to do – like write good content so they don’t go under like so many otherprint magazines -than troll marks and domains for bully opportunities.
How did you respond to the C&D letter and what came of it?
Many companies don’t take the domain business as a serious business and believe people will get scared if they get a letter from a well known company.
They’ve been doing this for years. Entrepreneur Magazine will win using attrition by bleeding the other party financially. EMI will take up all of the other parties time, emotion and resources for years. They’ve done it plenty of times before.
“Since the early 1980s, EMI has sued or threatened to sue scores of businesses and organizations it claims infringed its trademarks. EMI won’t provide a tally of its targets, but it almost always prevails. ” Bloomberg
Bully? Yes. Foolish or unprepared? No.
I filed it about a month before I completed the sale of my media company. I can’t remember the exact timeline…if Entrepreneur contacted me before or after the sale, and what the exact request was. I do, however, remember that it was a C&D letter and remember feeling that it was a bullying attempt because it was such a ridiculous attempt to control a standard dictionary word.
I just went to http://tess2.uspto.gov and searched for the mark and it appears it was granted on January 13, 2009. If Entrepreneur really objected to the mark, they could have filed an objection when the mark was published for opposition.
The mark is currently active and owned by an entity of the company that I sold my media company to. So I guess nothing happened, but I’m not sure since I’ve not been privy to the details of the business since late 2008.
Only in America the BS land.