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  1. #1
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    I have a client who offers fitness services, including bootcamps in Anytown. They have an article which explains what a bootcamp is. The article is entitled 'Bootcamp Explained'. I have included tags for the article (bootcamp anytown, bootcamp, personal trainers Anytown, fitness programs, get fit in anytown, anytown boot camp) in order to market their bootcamp services in Anytown. Their site also clearly states that they offer bootcamp sessions in Anytown.

    Now, there is another fitness provider offering almost identical services in Anytown named Bootcamp Anytown, with the domain bootcampanytown.com who insist they have been advised to take legal action over the use of these tags. This provider has also registered the trading name Bootcamp Anytown (pending/not awarded) and based on this, claims I have no right to use his business name on the site.

    Am I being a bit blinkered and not seeing an obvious infringement or am I correct in assuming that these terms can be used to advertise their bootcamp services in the same town?

    Has anyone any references, links or thoughts regarding the use of generic words/trade names etc?

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  3. #2
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    Here's a link to a similar story which might be of interest:

    http://www.milesburke.com.au/blog/20...n-a-trademark/

    The comments are also interesting.

  4. #3
    Senior Member Webzarus's Avatar
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    if this is in the USA, the definitive office for legal issues is the trademark office.

    I've been dealing with trademark and copyright issues for many years, and many people think that just because they have sent in an application and paid a fee, they can tell anyone and everyone else to go jump...

    Fact is, it all depends on " first use in commerce "... Meaning a public use of the term that can be verified.

    So legally, if the party that received a letter from someone else can prove they were actually using the "words" in commerce before the other, they can file a letter of dispute with the trademark office, I'd suggest also submitting any supporting documents of "cease and desist " from the other company...

    It's my understanding ( I am not a lawyer, and you should seek legal advice from a lawyer that specializes in trademark and IP LAW ), that until you get the authorization letter from the trademark and copyright office... You have no legal bearing to claim it is yours and you have legal power to do so.

    If in fact they have received a "pending" letter from the office, they may have some legal rights to request others not use it, but the full legal power to issue cease and desist is not granted until the trademark has been awarded...( again, I urge you to seek professional advice from a trademark and ip attorney )...

    Pending status has been revoked numerous times for less... I know of one in particular that was revoked because an overzelous engineer that was not authorized to speak on the companies behalf sent out several letters claiming to have pending status for a particular trademark... When those people handed to their legal team... They disputed, have proof of "first use in commerce ", before the applicants date... And pending status was revoked from the applicant...

    Be forewarned ( again urging you to contact a trademark and IP law specialist ), the trademark office does not take kindly to "frivolous" disputes...so unless you have irrefutable proof... Might be better to walk away...

    If this does not pertain to the USA, then none of the above matter one bit.

    Unless of course we are talking about international copyrights ... But from the context of the OP, I doubt this is applicable.

  5. #4
    Senior Member Webzarus's Avatar
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    BTW... As for using generic terms as keywords on a web site ( in context ), is not and cannot be construed as copyright infringement ...

    Part of the whole thing about a copyright and trademark infringement is "self policing", meaning if there is a word or term that you own the trademark to... It can be revoked if the registered owner of the copyright does not make "reasonable effort" to keep everyone from using their trademark.

    It would be physically impossible to "self-police" the word " boot camp" as it's used millions of times on just the Internet. Much less probably thousands of small town athletic centers across the us that use this term..
    They would have to "legally" send out cease and desist letter to each and every person in the us that uses that term... Legally and financially impossible.

    Just registering a domain name of a particular term does not guarantee trademark status...

    There are many terms, words and phrases that cannot be "trademarked"... Your best way to determine if this is the case with this particular term would be a little research on the trademark office DB search...

  6. #5
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    Thanks for that.

    I apologise for not mentioning that this was related to an Australian situation but I assumed the international law would be similar.

    In regards to 'first use', I still can't believe that using such keywords before someone else entitles any exclusive right. I could accept it if you invented a new word before someone but to arrange the English language in a new way just sounds wrong to me. The word 'bootcamp' has been used since at least 1944 and the town was named in 1891. I can't see how just because you put them together you have the right to prevent others from mentioning their service.

    However, being no expert, I am asking the question and doing the research in an attempt to better understand.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Webzarus's Avatar
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    My friend and legal expert said that the word "bootcamp" could not be trademarked here is the US, and based on that alone an international trademark is unlikely...

  8. #7
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    Thanks very much.

  9. #8
    Senior Member Webzarus's Avatar
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    Now there is also ( in the us ) a term called "word mark", is is a subset classification of the trademark system that entitles the registered owner to "protect" the use of the word "in context"... Meaning if you have a distinguished "word" ... And it can be identified with only your product ... If you have the "WordMark" protected, then anyone using the word to try and "deceive" potential customers into believing that what they offer is somehow affiliated with that word... Then yes, they can take legal action against the offender...

    A generic term generally cannot get "WordMark" status either...

    Personally I think the person that is trying to say you are illegally using a term... Is full of it..

    I've had numerous websites shut down for trademark infringement of one of my clients... Because here in the US... Any hosting company that operates here is bound by the DMCA LEGISLATION.

    perhaps there is some similar legislation there, or something along those lines that can actually protect you...

    We recently had a fairly large corporation go after a small mom and pop business because they had the same name... Come to find out, the small mom and pop business had actually opened their doors 6 months before the big corporation...

    Long story short... Not only did the big corporation loose their legal battle to the small mom and pop, the lawyers on behalf of the small business petitioned the trademark office to award the mom and pop with registered trademark status ... They did, and now the big corporation is having to pay the mom and pop company $$$$ to use their name...


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