Two days ago I received the following email from Woodman Labs, Inc. d/b/a GoPro (hereafter “GoPro”):
date: Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 10:18 AM
subject: Notice of Domain Infringement (goprodivemaster.com) [Case #173163]
To whom it may concern,
GoPro does not authorize any of its resellers (or anyone else) to use “GoPro” or “HERO” in domain names. [My emphasis] Your registration of goprodivemaster.com is unfortunately in direct violation of this policy. We understand that your intention is simply to sell and promote our products, but GoPro cannot risk misleading customers into believing that they are interacting directly with GoPro when they are engaging with your website or your organization. The use of our trademark terms in your business name may cause confusion, and is prohibited under international trademark law.
Even if the domain redirects to another site, this is not a permissible use of our brand terms.
Please understand: GoPro has spent years building its brand name—only the company itself is legally represented as “GoPro” or the manufacturer of the “HERO” line of cameras. We need you to kindly discontinue the use of our registered/trademarked name as soon as possible.
We thank you for your understanding and prompt attention to this matter.
Patrick Hayes | GoPro | www.gopro.com
+1 (415) 738-2480 x7282
+1 (415) 814-5373 fax
When I read that I was like, “WTFO?” (What the Fuck, Over?)
First off, it should be noted that I FULLY, 100%, BELIEVE IN and RECOGNIZE intellectual property rights and ownership; there have been numerous documented instances in which douche-bags have trampled on my own trademark and copyrights and I have taken each one of them to task and whooped some ass. As a private investigator of 18 years, I have investigated dozens upon dozens of intellectual property and trademark cases on behalf of others – this would hardly require a moment to even consider that this message is a bit misguided and overzealous in my opinion.
I was not offended by the email at first until I really started to think about it:
- As a digital marketing guy, I LOVE the GoPro camera brand; they’ve reached the holy grail of social network marketing mastery- their community creates content for them and brand evangelists are straight-up COOL. I really respect the what they’ve done.
- I own a couple of their HERO cameras, and a ton of their accessories, including the 3D set up. The cameras are very good for what they were originally designed to do and I rarely go scuba diving without a camera strapped to my head.
- They sent a boilerplate email that assumes a great deal and appears that they did not even look at the GoPro Divemaster website. In the assumption that GoProDivemaster.com is anything at all about GoPro cameras, housings and accessories, there is almost a tone of arrogance in the above email. In fact, the website is currently parked with GoDaddy and has NOTHING at all to do with GoPro cameras.
- There are at least 5 other live trademark registrations using the term “gopro” not related to cameras. Why did they assume that my site had anything to do at all with cameras and not “medical devices for measuring anatomic angles?”
- If, in fact, GoPro does have a legitimate legal claim to the term “GoPro” then PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Intructors, has really screwed the pooch in advocating the GoPro designation as it relates to the PADI Instructor Development Centers (IDCs). There are literally hundreds of IDC website URLs using the same naming convention as my URL: GoPro[InsertLocationHere].com. I surveyed a dozen of these website owners and not a single one of them have received an infringement notice, so why mine?
- I wonder if GoPro has plans for a specific camera housing or accessories using the Divemaster designation??? If so, why not just tell me that and I’ll trade them the domain name for a couple of sets of Hero 3′s and everything they make for them.
- WHEN DID I EVER AGREE TO BE SUBJECT TO THEIR POLICIES???
While the email is cordial enough, I really hate feeling like I am being bullied and that is when ol’ El Scott gets fired up. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this email has caused me to sour somewhat on my ownership of my GoPro cameras, especially when I thing that the SeaLife Cameras are waaaaaay more suited for underwater photography.
Being curious, I looked up WHOIS information for the domain name ip-gopro.com, the domain from which the email address was received (email@example.com). I found that the domain is associated with MarkMonitor, a brand protection service division of Thomson Reuters. Since I am certain that GoPro is paying MarkMonitor by the hour for some of these situations, I’ve decided to play a game with them at this point… let’s see just how patient and nice they will be with my never-ending requests for additional information and explanation of their “policy” as it somehow relates to me and GoProDivemaster.com.
One of several things could happen:
- They’ll threaten to sue me (good luck, I live in Central America).
- They’ll give up and ignore my replies and requests for further clarification and evidence at some point; the cost will not justify the end-results.
- They’ll apologize for the misunderstanding (unlikely).
- They’ll make an offer on the domain (I’m realistic and cheap – two Hero 3′s and every accessory they make for them will do it).
- They’ll take me to arbitration for domain name ownership, which will likely cause a MAJOR headache for PADI and the hundreds of other professional scuba diving instruction related GoPro domain owners. Not good for GoPro or PADI public relations in the diving community.
- El Scott Harrell Voodoo hexes are cast forthwith.
Seriously, none of that terribly concerns me; I have $12 invested in the domain name. It’s now about the point and certainly not about what I have to lose.
Taking everything into consideration, here is my reply to Patrick Hayes:
from: L. Scott Harrell
date: Sun, Nov 11, 2012 at 9:32 AM
subject: Re: Notice of Domain Infringement (goprodivemaster.com) [Case #173163]
Please provide a GREAT DEAL more information, along with exhibits, in support of your request, as it appears that you have not taken the time to even review what is (and has at all times since the domain name’s registration) displayed when visiting http://goprodivemaster.com and, instead, have chosen to send a boilerplate notice.
Upon receipt of same, via email, I will endeavor a more articulate reply that will address whatever concerns you might have as it relates to GoPro’s “policies” and the specific trademark (registration #3032989) on file with the USPTO as it relates to GoPro branded cameras and accessories.
In short, “You’re welcome, Mr. Hayes (or should I call you Pat?). Rest assured, you have my attention in this matter.”
This should be a bit of fun. I’ll keep you, Dear Reader, updated as this situation unfolds.
Have you received a Infringement Notice from GoPro, too? Tell me about it! Leave your comments below.
Notice: Any and all copyrights, trademarks and/or intellectual property that may or may not be included in this post belong to the respective owners of such intellectual property and are included to document and identify those individuals, companies, brands and marks as they are relevant to a specific set of factual events. This blog and its owner is in no way associated or a representative of said marks, except as might be explained in posts herein. LOL.