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Old 02-24-2008, 08:23 PM
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GM pressures CorvetteStripes.com over trademark issues

These are becoming increasingly common.

I only noticed this one because I saw they had posted a link to SpankMyMarketer.com in the thread. Saw the traffic coming through in our referral logs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mike76002, member on CorvetteForum.com
Hi forum vendors,
I have talked to one of the GM Trademark Infringement Manager today because recently, I just got into the trademark issue with GM about C5 jakes donating to St. Jude hospital.
She told me that GM knows that many vendors on this forum using GM trademark w/o license and I am proud to be the first one got caught by GM
They will start the auditing soon to all forum vendors so I'll just wanna give y'all a head up.
Good luck

-Mike
***BTW, I need to rename my website from www.corvettestripes.com to www.vettestripes.com because I cannot use corvette in my domain w/o license
Full thread on CorvetteForum.com is here: forum vendors -- watch out for GM.

There's some interesting discussion going on there, including some cool details on the etymology of the word "Corvette".

Trademark issues are complex -- you don't have to be a lawyer to understand them, but you do have to have a firm grasp of the relevant law, and you have to do your research on the complexities of each individual situation. Not sure what the hospital donation issue is here. The post hints that GM is now actively pursuing forum vendors. I suspect that their "auditing" is close to "strong-arming".

Anyway, heads up to all our members who work in businesses that manufacture or supply parts for GM vehicles. Unless this is a hoax (I doubt it is), it's a red flag that GM is stepping up the pressure.

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Old 02-24-2008, 08:30 PM
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Interesting, is GM going to go after naval history sites as well for using the word corvette? GM didn't create the name "Corvette", a corvette was a small fast warship that saw service in both world wars primarily in the North Atlantic. Corporate greed at it's finest.
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Old 02-25-2008, 07:40 AM
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It's kind of funny how many people think they have a right to do whatever they want with someone else's name, product, invention these days. Chevrolet named their car Corvette and if someone wants to use that name to make money and it is reference the same car they should pay their dues. The stripe website in question was clearly centered around the GM vehicle and GM has every right to protect it's trademark. Neither Ford nor GM has done anything wrong in protecting the Mustang/Corvette names. They have no idea if the people using their name have similar values, quality control etc.

I think it is just a byproduct of todays society where so may people download music and movies for free and feel it's alright to do whatever they want.

I have noticed that most of the people directly affected by these 'clampdowns' are quite cordial and accepting, it's the guys on the sidelines who get in a tizzy about it all.
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Old 02-25-2008, 08:59 AM
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Corvette a small, fast naval vessel ranking in size below a frigate. In the 18th and 19th centuries, corvettes were three-masted ships with square rigging similar to that of frigates and ships of the line, but they carried only about 20 guns on the top deck. Frequently serving as dispatchers among ships of a battle fleet, corvettes also escorted merchantmen and showed a nation's flag in battle.
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Old 02-26-2008, 08:19 AM
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When you get lawyers involved in decision making in your business, kiss the business goodbye. GM is actually paying people to manage trademark infringement, a classic example of pouring lots of money without adding value. Think about the silliness going on in our corporate community over "registering rights to a name (aka word)" and making every one pay for the use of that name (aka word). Well, I am waiting on some one to use "Trees" so I can engage a scumbag to take the infringement stealer to court for 40% (I'll hold out for scumbag picking up the tab for all expenses and court costs). Yeah, and nobody here can use "Trees" in any fashion or way (well, maybe complimentary would slide by). And while you are at it, I have a birth certificate saying I am assigned my full name and any one born after 11 July 38 and are using any one of my names are going to get a greetings from my scumbag!!

Ho Hum, wonder who will want to buy any GM product after they go under for not carefully examining and eliminating all of their "No Value Added" practices ?

Trees
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Old 02-26-2008, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 35CHEVY.COM
Corvette a small, fast naval vessel ranking in size below a frigate. In the 18th and 19th centuries, corvettes were three-masted ships with square rigging similar to that of frigates and ships of the line, but they carried only about 20 guns on the top deck. Frequently serving as dispatchers among ships of a battle fleet, corvettes also escorted merchantmen and showed a nation's flag in battle.
I thought maybe the name went farther back than what I posted. Thanks.
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Old 02-26-2008, 10:50 AM
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Selling corvette boats would not be a trademark problem. Selling anything for cars while using "Corvette" might be a trademark problem. Trademarks apply to specific markets. We can talk about Corvette all we want, as individuals, but the second we start using it to enhance sales of products in the relevant market, we're treading on GM property. They made the name valuable in that market and have a stake in defending what they've made of it. As owners of the trademark, they get to decide who gets to ride on its coattails, commercially.
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Old 02-26-2008, 11:05 AM
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reference for trademark

Here's a handy reference for general legal research:
Groklaw's Legal Research Page

The "Trademark" link on that page points to
Bitlaw, which has the following summary:

Quote:
A mark is infringed under U.S. trademark law when another person uses a device (a mark) so as to cause confusion as to the source or sponsorship of the goods or services involved. Multiple parties may use the same mark only where the goods of the parties are not so similar as to cause confusion among consumers. Where a mark is protected only under common law trademark rights, the same marks can be used where there is no geographic overlap in the use of the marks. Federally registered marks have a nation-wide geographic scope, and hence are protected throughout the United States.
For a concrete example, it might also be of help to read Grokking Cyberlaw & How The Trademark Process Works - PJ, Groklaw, 2008-01-21
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Old 02-28-2008, 06:38 AM
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As a member of the Corvette Forum I would wonder why GM is so concerned about someone using "Corvette" in their website or business when it has to do with enhancing the car cosmetically rather than trying to reinvent it. By the way, does GM charge the owners of the "Corvette" Forum for the use of their trademark name in the title of their website? It has to do with the car not the boat or anything else. I am thinking that they don't on the basis that it promotes the product that they want to advertize and sell but I am not sure of this. (There is no real way to find out either as the Corvette Forum moderators closely monitor the site and anything questioning or derogatory to the site or their advertizers is punishable by being banned from the site.) GM should be more concerned about losing billions of dollars over the last year and what their loses will be next year. If they keep going on the track that they are on it won't be GM anymore, it'll GM/Honda/Mazda/Nissan/Hyundai or even one of the European/Chinese manufacturers.

GM styling has given us some real ugly units to look at. I am talking Corvettes here. The (C-3) 74 through 82 Vettes are all ugly (in my opinion) and basically a piece of crap. If someone could make them look better cosmetically I'm all for it. The same goes for the C-4's. GM finally put some styling into these cars when the C-5's and C-6's came out. Not that they cannot be enhanced by some type of striping or paint it is just that they are not butt ugly like the previous models.

Just my thoughts on this, for whatever they are worth.

Steve
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Old 02-28-2008, 06:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reflog
As a member of the Corvette Forum I would wonder why GM is so concerned about someone using "Corvette" in their website or business when it has to do with enhancing the car cosmetically rather than trying to reinvent it. By the way, does GM charge the owners of the "Corvette" Forum for the use of their trademark name in the title of their website?
I think maybe you might have some misunderstandings about trademarks.

If the Corvette Forum you mention is not in the business of selling things related to cars, it's probably not 'infringing' the trademark.

GM *must* show concern about any business using the trademark or they lose the trademark. If they don't 'police' its usage, it can be considered abandoned and public property, like "kerosene".

You may want to read the following:

Infringement

Dilution

Trademarks and the Internet

Hope this helps.
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:48 PM
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There is a greater issue here beyond the legal specifics in this exact situation, which, by my understanding, do indeed favor General Motors, and rightly so.

The big news here isn't "GM v. CorvetteStripes.com". It's "GM Deploys Lawyers Over Trademark Issues in Forums".

These corps have a reputation of abusing the law and bullying small websites. I highly, highly doubt that they're uniformly carefully interpreting the letter of the law, and taking efforts to fairly rectify situations in which they feel that their brand is being used improperly.

The fact that they're out on the prowl is reason for concern, for anyone whose business involves GM products.

It's a harbinger, just like Ford's recent bungled attempt at handling the BMCForums.com issue. We'll likely soon be seeing increased corporate presence in forums, and plenty of strong-arming. In some cases, the law will indeed be on their side, and their actions will be ethical and appropriate. In other cases, they will be resorting to the types of tactics for which they have earned their reputation.
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Old 02-29-2008, 04:04 AM
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(Good to see you back).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon
There is a greater issue here beyond the legal specifics in this exact situation, which, by my understanding, do indeed favor General Motors, and rightly so.

The big news here isn't "GM v. CorvetteStripes.com". It's "GM Deploys Lawyers Over Trademark Issues in Forums".

These corps have a reputation of abusing the law and bullying small websites. I highly, highly doubt that they're uniformly carefully interpreting the letter of the law, and taking efforts to fairly rectify situations in which they feel that their brand is being used improperly.
Some hire outside firms to police trademark and copyright 'issues' on the Internet and then do not exercise oversight. Whether in-house or outside counsel, there are plenty who are overly aggressive and will try to capitalize on the fact that their target is unlikely to know the limits of trademark. A classic example of the target successfully fighting bully tactics is TaubmanSucks. Here's one poking fun at several aspects of trademark, while going after a famous trademark bully: Copyfighter to trademark bully: I own "freedom of expression".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon
The fact that they're out on the prowl is reason for concern, for anyone whose business involves GM products.

It's a harbinger, just like Ford's recent bungled attempt at handling the BMCForums.com issue. We'll likely soon be seeing increased corporate presence in forums, and plenty of strong-arming. In some cases, the law will indeed be on their side, and their actions will be ethical and appropriate. In other cases, they will be resorting to the types of tactics for which they have earned their reputation.
That's why I posted the three links above, 'Infringement', 'Dilution', and 'Trademarks and the Internet'. The more people who know the limits, the less effective the strong-arming can be. (I don't much like terror tactics). Of the three, dilution appears to lend itself most to strong-arming:

Quote:
Under the Dilution Act, famous marks are protected against the dilution of the distinctive nature of the mark. There is no need to prove a likelihood of confusion, nor is there any need to show competition between the goods of the plaintiff and the defendant. Therefore, it is possible to use a dilution cause of action against users of the same mark even when the defendant's goods and services bears no relation to the goods or services of the famous mark.
That looks tailor-made for bullying.

It looks to me like the subject of this thread, corvettestripes.com, could fall under both infringement and dilution. It's a commercial operation that relies on the value of a famous mark for its sales and I couldn't find any disclaimer of any association with the owner of the trademark, prominent or otherwise.

On the other hand, I don't see any reason why the domain name was changed from corvettestripes.com to vettestripes.com. The owner could probably fight that one in court, if not in domain name dispute resolution. (The latter is infamous for being unbalanced in favor of corporations). The website volvoworld.com changed to vlvworld.com a few years ago. I'm not sure if they made any effort to fight Ford over the name.

For a small business, it sometimes makes more economic sense to just move out of the giants' way and keep selling. That says something really sad about our court system.
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