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Business confrontation over my pottery style, use of terms- need advice

I haven't thought this out- just quickly posting-

I'm going to be vague here because I don't know if this will turn into a legal problem.

I was just notified by email by a third party, for a company representative who found a piece of my pottery online.

The third party removed it from their online site where it could be seen because they were told that it violated a trademark infringement.

I did a little research- the company uses certain terms in their business name and in all of their descriptions that I also use for some of my items.  The terms are descriptive to a STYLE of decor- think shabby chic, beach decor, country, classy, -you get the idea.

They sent me the trademark proof that their business name is trademarked. Their business name has the decor style in their name.

The email said that my pottery piece was in violation of their trademark, all that I can see is that I also use this descriptive term- to describe my piece of pottery. Please note-- it is a very common and widely used word!!!

So- what would you do if this happened? This company is larger than me, and surely has deeper pockets- BUT- I have been producing pottery much much longer than them. 

I don't feel that they can OWN a word to describe a style.

This is a case of the big guy going after the little guy, but the little guy was here first.

Any thoughts?

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Have you registered anything using those words, like a domain name? Or if on your web site can you proof how long you've been using those words. Hint. Go to http://archive.org and do screen captures of the earliest copies of your web site pages in case you'll need them.

I had a similar situation with my dentist. A dental company contacted him and told him he couldn't use his domain name anymore because they trademarked the name of his web site. It turned out he had registered the domain name over five years prior to the other company filing a trademark request. I guess their attorney neglected to research if anyone was using that name. He sent them domain registration records that he had been using the name for years before they registered it and never heard from them again.

Larry Berman
http://BermanGraphics.com
412-401-8100

Larry, thanks.

Oh, I wish.  That is what is so silly sounding to me- I only use these two words when I am describing certain items of my pottery, because they fit into this style of decor.

For instance, I like the description "rustic industrial" because it describes a look for some of my raku pieces to fit into, and I use these words for description- such as "Rustic Industrial vase."

I'm doing the same with this ONE word that they are contesting me using, doing a description the same way- " xxx Pottery Bowl."

People do search for items to go with certain looks in their decor.

I emailed and told this company that I cannot see anything that I am doing illegal, and that I was here first!  Hoping they will go away.

Do you have any descriptions of your pottery from years back where you used those words, as proof that you have actually been doing the work longer than they have?  One of my jewelry teachers was threatened with a law suit over a pattern that someone said she had stolen from him.  She was able to show that she had been teaching that pattern before he had begun making jewelry.  Other than that, could you change your descriptive wording somehow so that it doesn't say exactly the same word that they are quibbling about?

It sounds so petty for a company to go after a single person over a descriptive word.  I wish you the very best luck in figuring out what to do.  Let us know the outcome.

I believe they are an internet business selling primarily online and striving to be the ONLY listing that shows up in the search pages when someone googles their business name- which is very generic sounding- and a style. I just did a search on their name and went through 5 pages then stopped. They are every single listing.

It would be the same as googling , say "country furniture" and finding an internet shop by this name, blocking out any other searches for country furniture.

I don't know how long they have been in business as their website is so vague, a lot of  hype with no real information.  I started using the "word" when I put things online, to help with searches.  

I'll disclose how it turns out. I'm taking everything off line as I will be packing and leaving for a show this week.

When I return, I'm putting it back up regardless.

An afterthought. I don't believe that this company is in the right concerning the use of search engines and the internet. They have created a way to block out all of their smaller competition online.

Report them to Google and see if Google perceives they are doing something unethical.

Larry Berman

That is a good idea, I went to google and spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out how. I believe there is no email, so will have to do it later.

Bottom of the home page - About

Bottom of the next page - Contact Us

Larry Berman

Yes, but after-contact us, there isn't anywhere for me to go, all of the links go nowhere for my problem.

I may end up writing a real letter.

Thanks for the archive.org site, had a lot of fun with their "way back machine" looking at my old sites

If you're a Grateful Dead fan, Archive.org has about 2700 Dead concerts to listen to. They used to be available to download but most have been changed to streaming only.

Larry Berman

Wow I'm going to be spending a lot of time on that site.

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