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Copyright rules for blog names?

  1. Hi, I've been trying to find an email contact for WordPress staff since I would rather discuss this privately but I guess I'm stuck on the forums since I can't find another way and need an answer, fast! I recently started up a blog, and the name took a little while to come up with. As with most bloggers, I needed something that perfectly reflected what my blog was about without being misleading, and also needed to find something that wasn't already taken! When I finally found something that fit the bill and was available, I was thrilled. I wrote my first post just to get the ball rolling so I could start playing with design options - when I received a comment on that first post a day or two after having started, saying:

    Dear XXXXX,

    Your blog sounds interesting. Good luck with your writing.

    We request that you kindly change the name of your blog. The name XXXXX is copyrighted by myself and a trademark application is pending for XXXXX Inc..

    Thank you for your cooperation.

    Sincerely,
    XXXXX
    President
    XXXXX Co.

    (Sorry, I've XXX-ed out the names to protect privacy of myself and the person who wrote to me etc.) While I completely understand where they're coming from, in that if they're starting a company and the name is obviously such a key part of it that they're looking into trademarking it and such, I can't help but wonder what the legal situation is on this. Do they have a right to sue me if I decline their request and keep my blog name, or do I have no right but to accept what they've asked and change my blog name (even though I am aware that once deleted, neither I nor anyone else will be able to use the blog name)? Mine is a personal blog, and I live in the UAE and they are based in the USA, if that makes any difference. I know these forums probably aren't the ideal place for tricky legal advice on media law, but I really do need some guidance on this before I feel comfortable continuing to blog or before responding to this person. Frankly for a new blogger who has only just worked up the guts to start writing one, it's enough to put you off wanting to keep blogging at all and give up before even starting! Even if I start another blog with a different name and delete this one so it's forever obsolete, what are my chances this may happen again in the future with another name and another company owner? I don't want to have to keep coming up with new names and starting the blog anew after coming up with yet another name (a frustrating challenge) and I'd just like to know what my rights are in such a situation, whether I decide to cooperate out of bring understanding this time or not (or to know if I even have that choice or my decision is made because they have rights to claim this and I don't). Please help, any advice would be welcome. Thanks!

    The blog I need help with is thehungryglobetrotter.wordpress.com.

  2. Names cannot be copyrighted. This is bullshit.

    Names can be TRADEMARKED. Ask them if they have a trademark.

  3. Thanks raincoaster.

    They said they a trademark application is pending for the name. There is a slight difference in the names: mine is "The XXXX XXXX", and theirs is just "XXXX XXXX Co." but I don't know if that would still count as too similar if they do get their trademark approved in the end.

    This is such an awkward situation to respond to, I'm really not sure what to do so I really appreciate your input, thanks :)

  4. Ask how much they are willing to pay you for the username.

  5. landscapelover
    Member

    I had a friend who ran a business in France and after several years found that someone had just trademarked an almost identical name for an almost identical new company.

    Because my friend had never trademarked the name, under French law she had no leg to stand on, and had to change her business name, Facebook page, even I think her blog name. (Despite this, I'm pleased to say her business goes from strength to strength.)

    But that was when both people were in the same country and subject to the same laws. And the rival's trademark application was already approved.

    I'm no lawyer, but I certainly wouldn't give in over this at this stage if you really want to keep the name. I agree with raincoaster - ask them if the name is actually trademarked. Even if it is, if there is no evidence that you are deliberately trying to confuse or steal their business, there may not be much they can do to stop you - think about the Apple dispute where the Beatles record label tried and failed to get the Apple computer people to change their name.

    The lesson from my friend's experience is to think - how much do I want this name? and how much effort am I prepared to put in trying to keep it?

  6. Haha wank, I should!

    Thanks landscapelover, that's a good point. As much as I like the name (which I do, a lot), I don't know how much effort I'm prepared to put into trying to keep it - I wouldn't want to slink away with my tail between my legs without looking into it (starting with posting in this forum to help me consider my options!), but I don't really have the energy to get into a full-blown fight with someone over it. (Even if they claimed to have a copyright to the name which apparently isn't possible!)

    They don't actually have a trademark yet - they are just in the process of trying to get one, and my understanding is they have applied for one and it is pending approval. So while they may not have legal standing right now without the trademark, I wonder if they'll have the right to boot me off my site once they do get it approved - and if so, how much more of a pain it would be to have to change the name then, when I've got more posts to migrate, than now.

    It's extremely frustrating to think of changing it when they haven't even gotten it approved yet, and frankly if they were considering trademarking it they should have gone and secured the name across all popular blog hosting sites so I wouldn't have had the chance to get it in the first place! - but after hearing about what happened to your friend, I don't want to have to change absolutely everything months from now because they got a head start! And as you said, even after her change she still is successful so hopefully it'll be the same for me.

    Thanks so much for the advice everyone, really appreciate it.

  7. My friend has a business called AHA Media and owns ahamedia.ca ; she was contacted by another company called AHA that did PR and they threatened to sue her unless she changed her name. She got one of the best business lawyers in the country to take her on pro bono as a client and now when you google AHA you can't even find their company anymore; just hers.

    You really have nothing to worry about as long as your name is not identical OR is already registered.

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