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I recently acquired and started development on (Site is offline) and noticed that has, according to their logo at least, a trademark. The important point in my mind is that their use of netbook is relating to some sort of digital e-book generation system, which is most definitely not the common usage of the word, whereas mine relates to the popular ultra small lightweight laptop format.

Am I at risk here?.

Thanks in advance for any help...

Comments (6)

Well, IANAL, but I would first check the trademark database to ensure that they are, indeed, trademarked.

Secondly, I would add a disclaimer at the footer of your site, making it clear that you are not affiliated with that site.

Thirdly, you are perfectly free to discuss netbooks, as the word itself is not trademarked. As long as you don't use the same logo they do, and as long as your design differs vastly from theirs, then there should be no trademark issues.

As long as you purchased the domain in good faith, then you are definitely in the clear...

Comment #1

Uhh... no, do not do that..

That only proves that you admit there is confusion if they do come after you.

...which they won't, so makes it all a moot point...

Comment #2

Most trademark holders even the ones with strong brands are surprisingly weak at defending their trademarks.

I spent two years explaining to a client business that they need to defend their trademark against knock offs. Eventually I got sick of talking to the wall.

Most profitable businesses just don't care enough to defend their TMs...

Comment #3

So you're a trademark expert now, are you, genius? While I may not by a lawyer, I have taken trademark classes, and he's already admitted in an open forum that there's potential confusion, so adding the disclaimer I suggested shows his good faith efforts to avoid confusion, which would lessen any claims of damages the trademark holder may or may not have.

Secondly, you can't assume that a trademark holder won't police their trademark. True, many don't, but you can't walk around with your head in the clouds, either.

So before you go "," I suggest you actually do research...

Comment #4

Well thanks a lot for the detailed feedback guys I'm fairly comfortable that I'm not at risk. They appear to be a US based company and searching on there doesn't seem to be a trademark out in that name or anything similar so perhaps they've just chucked the TM on their logo to give them an air of legitimacy. Any other opinions? (assuming that they are in fact trademarked)..

Comment #5

TM's don't need to be registered in order to be enforced (though it's easier if they are). Showing first use in commerce can establish common-law rights. The proper way to represent an unregistered trademark is with the "tm" (or "sm" if it's a service mark). A registered tm is represented by the little r in a circle.

That said, it sounds like you are dealing in an entirely different class of goods and services, so there's a good chance you'd be OK. But, as always, if you want a real answer, ask a real lawyer...

Comment #6

This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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