“Why trademarks are important for startups” OR “How SEOMoz sent us a takedown notice.”

“Why trademarks are important for startups” OR “How SEOMoz sent us a takedown notice.”
Culture & Property rights

N&BThe following post is a guest post by Anji ISMAIL, co-founder & CEO of DOZ, which provides Search, Social Media, and Content Marketing through a community of multi-localized experts. You can follow him @anjismail.

This story about our own experience aims to avoid other startups getting into the same troubles.

Always register your trademark!

A trademark designation will communicate your intention to build a strong company to your ecosystem, clients, investors, and partner companies. The process is easy and you can do it yourself on the USPTO website.
One important step is to select the class in which you want to register your trademark. A class is basically a category of industry in which your service / product is going to evolve. E.G Facebook is registered in both class 35 (Advertising; business management; business administration; office functions) and 38 (Telecommunications). Before selecting your class of service, do the research; look at trademarks for companies operating in the same space.

Use your trademark ASAP

If you are not ready to start using the name, you can file an “intent to use” application to reserve your name for a specified period of time. But the best bet is to begin using it as soon as possible. Using the name internally is not good enough; you need to use it in a way that is visible to people outside of your organization. For instance, private beta users would be considered “public use” because they are not part of your team. You can create a “coming soon” landing page describing what the site will be all about or use the name to advertise and promote your new site.

Can someone cancel my trademark?

Even after you register your trademark, another person can file legal actions to cancel it. You’re at risk to have the best domain name you’ve ever had taken away from you. However, the challenger will have to prove that consumers are likely to be confused between the two names.

The story of DOZ

Our launch strategy for the US was to re-brand the original company Capseo (in France). We worked a lot and the end result is www.doz.com. Getting this domain name was like finding the Holy Grail. First, because it really meant something to us (read the story here), but also because it’s a great 3-letter domain name.

After running several private beta campaigns with customers, we launched to the public on March 6, 2013, at LAUNCH Festival in San Francisco. The aim was to get customers, press, investors etc. But to our surprise, some unwanted attention came in the form of an email from SEOmoz, asking us to abandon our trademark.

The story of Moz

SEOmoz is launching Moz.com, which appears to be a Marketing Analytics software. Why SEOmoz would like to cancel DOZ? No idea! “MOZ” is the ISO code for Mozambique. What if the President of Mozambique (Armando Guebuza) decides to claim moz.com?

When approaching bigger companies, be careful.

A taste of SEOMoz's email thread to DOZ
A taste of SEOMoz’s email thread to DOZ

Back in January, I approached SEOmoz to form a partnership. We wanted to be featured in their “Pro Perks”, and in exchange bring them leads for a 60-day free trial. Result: we weren’t featured, but our “Partner” landing page is still up. At the meeting, I gave SEOmoz information about our business and vision. I felt confident with them. That was my mistake.

Their mission statement is TAGFEE, where the first “E” stands for Emphatic, we can read: “What we are doing: We treat others the way we wish to be treated (…). We will strive to maintain the highest level of professionalism etc.”

Two e-mails stating, “you need to abandon your trademark”, followed by letters from attorney, are not what you can call either professionalism or empathy.

Don’t think you don’t need a lawyer. You do.

An excerpt of an email from SEOMoz to DOZ
An excerpt of an email from SEOMoz to DOZ

You cannot build an iOS app without a good iOS developer, and you cannot build a successful company without a good attorney. Get an attorney as soon as you start doing business. If he/she follows you from the beginning, he/she could be even better at protecting you.
Anyone can fall victim to a dispute like this. Even if it is a meritless suit like this one, you need to be prepared to defend it. So I strongly advise you to have a trademark attorney on your team to protect and fight for your assets, just like we are for DOZ.

DOZ is doing great, and such issue is just giving us more motivation. With DOZ, our focus is to help US Brands to grow outside their borders by reaching international audiences thanks to localized marketing and industry experts. We are actually closing our first round of financing (http://angel.co/doz).

103 Responses

  1. Avatar
    David Tripp

    Great article!
    Do not resign ! DOZ is a great name and a great idea.

  2. Avatar
    Sarah

    There ‘s no reason to abandon your trademark, And the content of these two mails reflects their non-professionalism. GO and never stop

    • Avatar
      Sarah Bird (@SarahBird)

      Hi Sarah, What you think we should do differently?

      Professionalism is important to me, so I want to learn from this.

    • Avatar
      Jerome

      learning by killing startups is the not good way to do Professionalism!

    • Avatar
      King

      First page of Hacker News, cool

      Btw, try do something Mozilla won’t do.

    • Avatar
      sososocurious

      Hi Tarah,

      Id check with Crad Geld on this (you know.. your VC).

      Guck Off

    • Avatar
      James

      If trademark/ IP law requires you to defend your mark on absurd grounds by acting like bullying juggernauts against fledgling businesses (eg, David v Goliath), you should at least make this clear in your correspondence. As you can see, you never quite know when dirty laundry will be aired in public.

      I have no idea what the internal discussions at SEOMoz were, or what your own feelings were when sending these emails. The air of “crushing your efforts makes us sad, but we wish you the best of luck!” wreaks of crocodile tears. Maybe there was an agonising meeting amongst the SEOMoz management and legal people, where everyone was left feeling dejected at the decision taken – but it doesn’t show through here.

      I can see that there’s an ambiguous “is there anything we can do to make this easier” line in one of the emails, but the offer should have been much more explicit: you already recognised that Anjil has sunk time, effort and money into DOZ, and because of an unfortunate interpretation by SEOMoz of how it should protect its mark, some of that time, effort and certainly money is laid to waste. The scale of loss in the short-term is much greater to Anjil than it is to SEOMoz.

      It’s sad that trademark treaties and legislation require some incredibly stupid things to be done in the name of protecting marks, but if this is being done with some reluctance, SEOMoz needs to make that clear and set out what it will do to help Anjil replace the work done with DOZ.

    • Avatar
      drewplaysdrums

      I don’t see what they did as “bullying.”
      Reading that long email from Sarah above doesn’t paint a bullyish goliath and david image to me at all.

      I’ll admit to being overly idealistic, but on principle SEOMoz has been using the “Moz” term in all their marketing for YEARS now. Capseo was Capseo until 3 months ago.

      To me, that’s really all it is. When you add the earlier filed intent-to-use, it seems really cut and dry.

      It sounds like what Capseo/Doz has launched is a fantastic product/service/tool and should be able to be quote succesful under any of almost infinite other names.

    • Avatar
      engineer

      SEOMOZ has been using the MOZ name for days here, DOZ set up their website MONTHS before SEOMOZ filed a “intent to use” filing.

      DOZ was already using before MOZ even said they intended to use.

      This is totally bullying.

      Especially since all that’s needed to settle this is a cross licensing agreement between the two companies. Both will have protected their mark.

      It’s also bullying because it’s asinine to claim that people are going to confuse “DOZ” for “MOZ” — a new brand with no equity.

    • Avatar
      Yush

      LMAO… talk about empty bullshit talk.

    • Avatar
      ouch

      Hi Sarah. GREAT to see you’re concerned about professionalism. I can’t help but see parallels to the RipOffReport fiasco. I guess mistakes have to be made for things to be learned.

  3. Avatar
    Mika

    “MOZ” is the ISO code for Mozambique. What if the President of Mozambique (Armando Guebuza) decides to claim moz.com? XD XD XD Nice one dude I like it.

  4. Avatar
    haha : DOZ ien

    I think the author of this article is a little jealous, and he is afraid of a new competitor, “Sony”, “pony” “Fony” customers if they are satisfied they can make a difference. DOZ is a great idea. and just got a new account. Anji good courage.

  5. Avatar
    President of MOZambique...

    Why SEOmoz would like to cancel DOZ? No idea! “MOZ” is the ISO code for Mozambique. What if the President of Mozambique (Armando Guebuza) decides to claim moz.com?

    OK, I follow you’re idea

  6. Avatar
    Jean

    Are they really serious to send you a takedown notice??? I can’t release how a very known actor in seo industry like SeoMoz could to this big mistake. Big Campanies must encourage Startups to expand and improve the industry, not block them beacause of jalousy. This is really idiot

  7. Avatar
    Keyvan

    Revolutionay projects always face unexpected obstacles. DOZ is synonymous with Innovation & Dynamism. The other one with fear. Don’t give up & All the best !

  8. Avatar
    petewailes

    Disclosure: I know Rand and the team at Moz fairly well.

    That said, if I was in their position, I’d be doing exactly the same. You’re competing in the same space, with a name that’s one letter away from them. If I founded a software company called Macrosoft, would I expect Microsoft to issue me with legal documents? Obviously.

    They’re a company with a strong brand and reputation, which they have to protect. It’s a crappy situation for sure, but there it is.

    Also, the “President of Mozambique” argument is a straw-man fallacy, and has no bearing on anything.

    • Avatar
      David Tripp

      Doz exist before Moz.

    • Avatar
      Sarah Bird (@SarahBird)

      Hi David, Moz actually had a priority filing. I contacted the Doz folks before they launched their product in January to tell them about it. So yes, their product was launched before ours, but our filing was out there and they knew about it before launching. 🙁

      I hope they can launch their product under a different brand! I’d still like to see them succeed. I’d love to do a data partnership.

    • Avatar
      Jay

      That is a really douchy thing to do – you are manipulating the law to screw over a startup who had their domain and product before you decided to rebrand.

      Time to cancel he seomoz subscription and find a more ethical and less hypocritical alternative.

      Being petty in this way damages your brand more than it helps.

    • Avatar
      Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)

      No need for to wait for Moz’s expensive software when you can get this AMAZING open source software right now:

      http://piwik.org

      Even better, it works on your own website – no need to hand over Rand your data for future exploitation.

      I’ve been using it for over 2 months and LOVE it!

    • Avatar
      Craig LaValle (@CraigLaValle)

      >So yes, their product was launched before ours, but our filing was out there and they knew about it before launching.

      How do you know Doz knew about the rebranding to Moz before launching?

      This is a key point and deserves a bit of unpacking.

    • Avatar
      engineer

      It actually doesn’t matter whether DOZ knew about the MOZ filing, they were using the DOZ domain before the MOZ filing which gives them rights to the DOZ name (presuming, of course that the names are likely to cause confusion in the first place– which I think is an asinine assertion given that MOZ only just rebranded, so has no brand equity.)

    • Avatar
      engineer

      Sarah, you really should bother to know the dates before opining on this subject. DOZ was out before your filing. Thus DOZ was there first.

      Filing is necessary to protect trademarks, but it doesn’t give you rights to the name against someone who has been using it before you filed.

      Secondly, they are different names. YOU Chose to change your name to a short name, and that means more words are going to be similar.

      Are you going to try and steal trademarks from “mom’s software”? It’s only one letter off. ETC.

      Seriously, you really should understand trademarks and how they work before you come here and snottily pretend to give a damn about the company whose name you are trying to steal.

      They were before you, therefore their trademark has precedence. They are a different name, therefore you have no rights to their name. The names are not confusing, especially since you’ve only actually used the name for a few days, which means nobody knows you as “MOZ” but as “SEOMOZ”.

      You aren’t fooling anybody.

    • Avatar
      wisnu

      Congrats Doz!

      You made the right decision. Why should you change your name if this case will make you famous easily? Go on, fight them… cut your marketing budget, increase your legal budget. Grow your business. Earn more money.

    • Avatar
      ResearchFirst.ThenPost
    • Avatar
    • Avatar
      Keith Brown (@optimizethis)

      The comment above = so much win.

    • Avatar
      LOL

      Holy shit.

    • Avatar
      engineer

      Credit for, unlike the other posters here, admitting you are biased.

      “They’re a company with a strong brand and reputation”

      That brand is SEOMOZ, *not* MOZ. They want to change it and are trying to steal a pre-existing name now.

      As for reputation, it was destroyed when they went against everything they’ve been preaching for years with this action.

      You would do well to learn what a straw-man fallacy is. You’d also do well to learn a bit about trademarks.

      By the way, DOZ isn’t one letter away from MOZ, MOZ is one letter away from DOZ. DOZ was there first, before MOZ even filed.

      The truth is clear: they wanted to get rid of SEO because it has scummy associations so they decided to switch to MOZ and now they want to steal DOZ…. proving that SEOMOZ is more accurate because they are a scummy company.

    • Avatar
      Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)

      I bow to you engineer.

      You combined the words strawman and fallacy. Awesome! If you somehow wrap that with the phrase red herring into the mix, I will go gaga!

      Of course none of the “shitizens” reading this will have any idea what you’re talking about.

      Kudos to you for introducing sanity to these comments.

  9. Avatar
    Ben Renaud

    This story reminds me Don Quichotte and his famous windmills.

    I totally understand your point Pete but do you really think that your competitivity depends on your brand name?

    Even if DOZ and MOZ are closed, I think they doesn’t tell the same story.

    They are two brands on the same market with their own strenghts and wicknesses.
    Customers are not so credulous and they’ll not be confused.

    And obviously custumers make the market.

    The sign send by MOZ doing a legal action is fear.

    To conclude, I wish good luck to the both company on this healthy competition.
    I m sure they’ll both find their place in the market.

    • Avatar
      petewailes

      It’s not about competing, it’s about trademark substantiation. You have to take action against anyone who’s close to your name, or against no-one. Hence why you often get what are publicly seen as frivolous and bullying suits by companies like Apple and McDonald’s. They have to, or it can be used in future against you.

      Trademark law sucks for all involved.

    • Avatar
      engineer

      “You have to take action against anyone who’s close to your name”

      Substantiation would be resovled by a cross licensing agreement between DOZ and MOZ whereby both companies grant the other the license to use their name for their products, in exchange for same.

      That’s satisfies the substantiation– it doesn’t matter what the terms are, you just have to have an agreement.

      The Star Wars trademark is not lost because Hasbro has Star Wars brand toys, they do it under license, and that license strengthens the trademark.

      Trademark law does not suck… MOZ is just being greedy here, trying to steal their name.

  10. Avatar
    Sarah Bird (@SarahBird)

    My name is Sarah and I’m the Chief Operations Officer for SEOmoz. I sent one of the emails to Anji above.

    Believe me, sending trademark notices is NOT my favorite part of my job. I like to support entrepreneurs are partner with folks in the inbound industry, even our competitors. So, we didn’t enter into this decision lightly or with any happiness about it.

    Here’s why we did it: We think it’s a confusingly similar product. Yes, he has a services component to his product, but he also pitched analytics to understand how those services are performing. He wanted to use the Moz API to help build those analytics. Software that helps you manage your inbound marketing is exactly what we do. Doz was just too close.

    Here’s how we did it:

    When we decided to invest in Moz, we filed an Intent To Use trademark in August 2011. We knew we were making a huge investment in the brand, so we wanted to protect it.

    In December of 2012, Anji filed his trademark application for Doz.

    When Anji approached us about using our data to power the analytics/reporting features in his future Doz product in January 2013, we were really sad and disappointed. “Doz” seems too close to be used for inbound marketing software.

    So, I did what I would want someone to do for me. In January, I called him to give him a personal heads up that we had a problem, that the brand felt too close for us. I told him we had a registered intent-to-use, and that we were planning on launching soon, just like him. I asked him to use a different brand for his future product or that we would have to cancel his mark. He explained to me that his product is different enough from ours that there wouldn’t be confusion. I urged him to talk to his lawyer and get independent advice before he launched his product.

    He launched his product under the DOZ brand anyway in March 2013.

    In March, I reached out to him again explaining how sad I was to do this, but that we’d have to cancel the mark because we think the brands and industry are too similar, and will ultimately lead to confusion. That was a really sad thing to do because I know what it’s like to work so hard on your brand and project, and then have someone tell you that there is a trademark issue. It’s heartbreaking.

    Here’s the email I sent him in March:

    *********************************
    Hi Anji,

    This is a late followup from our call at the end of January about your planned marketing services platform. Based on the trademark that you filed and your description of the services in conversations with Andrew and I, we’ve determined that the marketing platform you plan to launch under the “Doz” brand is very similar to what we are doing over here at SEOmoz (both under the SEOmoz brand and the Moz brand). We’re both here to make inbound marketing easier and you mentioned your desire to build analytics, possibly even using some of our moz data products.

    Given that we have a legal obligations to defend our intellectual property rights (or have them weakened or even risk losing them altogether, that puts us in an awkward position of having to file to cancel your trademark.

    I know our launch of Moz is sort of an open secret, but we applied for and received trademark rights for Moz in 2011 and thus have rights stemming from at least the filing date for inbound marketing services very similar to your planned service offerings.

    Since both the trademarks themselves (Moz or even SEOmoz vs. Doz) and the services are very similar, our lawyer informs me that allowing Doz to stay on the trademark register would substantially weaken our brands, confuse our customers, and probably cause all manner of major problems for us down the line as we have already sunk a lot of time, money and energy into Moz, and have built up substantial goodwill over the years with SEOmoz.

    Given that you already applied for and registered a trademark for Doz, we are compelled to act to remove your trademark from the register. At least according to our lawyer (who specializes in trademarks), we have superior trademark rights to Doz based on our filing date for Moz, our existing goodwill in the SEOmoz brand and trademarks, and some improprieties in your registration (e.g. that you claimed use for the trademark even though the services haven’t launched yet). Thus, filing to cancel may be little more than a formality. Of course, I encourage you to speak to a lawyer as well to get a clear sense of your rights.

    As an entrepreneur yourself, I am sure that you understand our position and need to contact you about this trademark issue. You may even have run into similar problems with your own intellectual property.

    The reason that I am contacting you personally (rather than have our lawyer contact you or just initiate the cancellation proceeding without contacting you) is that I didn’t want to proceed without giving you a friendly heads up and seeing if there is a way to resolve this that isn’t too painful for you.

    I realize that you may have sunk a lot of time, money and energy into Doz. And just to be clear, I don’t want to discourage you from offering complementary (or even competing) services to SEOmoz – just under a less confusing brand. So, we are open to suggestions about how to resolve this in the most friendly and least painful manner possible, but if we don’t hear from you soon we will just have to initiate the cancellation process.

    I’m very sorry to have to send this email. I know that you’re just as passionate about your project at we are about ours. I hope you can launch under a different name and we can both continue to operate, perhaps even as partners, in a the inbound marketing space.

    Respectfully,

    Sarah Bird
    Chief Operations Officer
    SEOmoz, Inc.
    ************************************************************

    He was understandably upset. Who wouldn’t be? He tried to convince us that the products aren’t similar. In our judgment, it feels too close.

    In April, we filed to have Doz removed from the registrar.

    It is my sincere hope that Anji can continue to be successful with his product under a different brand. And maybe he can use the Doz domain for a project other than inbound marketing software. I think he’s a very smart guy and he’s trying to solve tough problems. I hope he succeeds.

    Blerg. Trust me guys, I take no pleasure in this process. It sucks.

    • Avatar
      Anji Ismail

      Hi Sarah,
      Thank for sharing your opinion.

      Just wanted to clarify few things.

      1. Capseo bought DOZ.com back in April 2011 and Capseo has been selling Online Marketing since September 2009. So it was just a matter of time that we launch DOZ.com.

      2. We didn’t fill in December 2012 as you said, but March 12, 2012. (cf. USPTO)

      3. DOZ is not an inbound marketing software

      Thank for wishing us success.
      I’m sure you don’t like being involved in such process… we don’t like it either.

    • Avatar
      engineer

      This means you have clear rights to the trademark, presuming you had some sort of a site up on DOZ.com before their filing in July. (Even if the software is the same, in which case you can go after MOZ.com. An action I would not approve of, but they drew first blood here, so you are within your rights to take MOZ.com from them.)

      Having DOZ.com up gives you rights to the name, it’s “in use” from that date, and especially if you had content there or received emails at that address.

      This predates their trademark filing, and thus they have no case.

      If you choose to settle with them, make it for a company changing sum of money.

    • Avatar
      Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)

      I’m LOVIN’ engineer’s posting here.

      With that said, I only slightly disagree with his/her idea of a company-changing sum of money.

      Please, please please don’t settle. They win and the little guy loses if you do.

      Please set an example. Show the world that with the “internets” and a few brave souls, the little guy can be on the same level playing field as these bigger companies.

      Please go after moz.com and get it for yourself. You would leave your mark on history if you prevailed.

      You have nothing to lose here and ALL to gain.

      I’m cheering for you!

    • Avatar
      engineer

      Sarah,

      All that’s necessary is for you to execute a cross licensing agreement with each other, giving each company the rights to use the respective “oz” name.

      If you were empathetic and “hated to do this”, and gave a damn, that’s what you’d do. With the license agreement, both trademarks are protected, both companies have shown their willingness to defend the mark, etc. Thus neither trademark is hurt by the existence of the other.

      That’s not what you’re doing. You’re a bigger company trying to STEAL another companies name.

      That’s bad enough, but this BS “we really hate to do it” line is what shows you to be a corporation that is SEVERELY lacking in integrity.

      When you blatantly lie in public like that, you make it known to everyone that SEOMOZ cannot be trusted with customer information (you exploited DOZ’s revealing of their intentions here) and that you personally, Sarah Bird, are a liar and a thief.

      What company want’s to hire a liar and a thief? If any future employer becomes aware of this, and they are an organization with integrity, they won’t hire you.

      That’s how easy it is to destroy your reputation.

      As for SEOMOZ, you can drop the SEO, but — and this is a surprise to me, as until today I thought it was a decent company– you still have the tarnish of being scumbags.

      It doesn’t matter whether you take pleasure in it or not– you are attempting to steal here and it shows your true colors, to anyone who is honest.

    • Avatar
      engineer

      PS: The “I’m contacting you personally, rather than have a lawyer do it” line is rich, given that you are a lawyer. Just more of the TAGFEE astroturfing.

      You repeatedly misrepresent the situation here, but then, you’re a lawyer, you’re supposed to lie. It just shows how TAGFEE is a joke … and that “goodwill” you mentioned building up over years comes from tricking people into thinking you’re not scumbags.

  11. Avatar
    Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)

    Rand Fishkin and transparency are a big joke.

    At inbound.org (which is half owned by Rand), I posted several comments. Already, one was deleted (my reference to Amazon Mechanical Turk and Moz.com).

    I’ve lost all respect for Rand any more. Gone.

    Maybe I should talk about Rand’s mom and her exploits in porn SEO (I’m not kidding – if Rand deletes another comment of mine, I’m going to reveal all). And don’t even get me started with Rand’s brother Evan.

    And I see Rand just tweeted this:
    https://twitter.com/randfish/status/340366196392198144

    So (once again), the almighty Rand is playing traffic cop. Didn’t he get in trouble doing this many years ago?

    Will Rand now sue me for my comments?

    • Avatar
      Jennifer Sable Lopez (@jennita)

      Whoa, getting personal and nasty? Why don’t you post under your real name?

    • Avatar
      Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)

      Yes, I’m nasty when it comes to psychopaths pretending to be open and transparent. Thus my name (Mr. Hater).

      I’ve used my real name in the past on your “TAGFEE” site (what a joke), and it got me in hot water with Rand. That’s why.

      Funny. Now two posts of mine have been deleted… and I got a private message to “read the guidelines” – funny… your guidelines don’t mention anything about asking tough questions.

      Don’t even get me started with you. Trust me, you don’t want to bait me, Lopez – you’ll lose.

    • Avatar
      engineer

      You posting under your real name– or pretending to– just tells us that you are a person of low integrity, who cannot talk to the person, and instead engages in ad hominem.

      So, anyone who is rational and thinking, knows you’re a piece of shit, Jennifer, and really not very bright.

      Seriously, you’re getting personal and nasty while pretending not to… and the whole “post under your real name” is ad hominem to distract from the points he was making.

      Let me guess, your bosses initials are R. F.

    • Avatar
      Joshua 'Red' Russak

      Question: Why are hating on somebody else for not being ‘transparent’ when you’re not even revealing your name? Were those comments he deleted made under “Mr. Hater” as well or were you using your real name?

    • Avatar
      Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)

      Because being open and transparent can be dangerous.

      For example, I could reverse engineer your profile and out your money sites…

      … Like:
      3wheelmotorcycle.com

    • Avatar
      Joshua 'Red' Russak

      Nice! I have to admit, 3 wheel motorcycles look pretty cool, but not sure why mentioned it? Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re commenting using a name that can’t be traced back to who you really are. Be a hater, but use your name.

    • Avatar
      Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)

      Why are you playing dumb, “Red”?
      That trike website is using the same Google Analytics code as your own website.

      That means either someone stole your Google Analytics code for their own site (highly unlikely) or you’re not being transparent with us here (likely).

      And I have PLENTY more to reveal – just say the word.

      Another way to reverse engineer stuff is to post addresses like this:

      6045 51st Place South
      5192 South Spencer Street

      Both in the land of rain and Starbucks.

      And it’s weird… you claim your middle name starts with an R, but I see it really starts with an N.

      Would you like to me to continue to explain why not to use my real name here?

      And also – why don’t you tell everyone your personal connection to Rand… you seemed to have forgotten that – TAGFEE and all.

    • Avatar
      Tom

      @Josh LOOOOOOOOL

    • Avatar
      drewplaysdrums

      Joshua is still right. Own your opinions.

    • Avatar
      engineer

      So, what’s your SSN drew?

      Seriously, the idea that someone’s wrong because they use an alias is a logical fallacy.

      It’s a form of ad hominem, too.

      In fact, you have to be pretty stupid, or not thinking, to say it.

      In my experience, the people who use their real names are not any more honest, or correct, they just are more mainstream… that is to say, they can’t be bothered to think for themselves, so they never say anything worthwhile– or worth keeping anonymous about.

    • Avatar
      engineer

      “Question: Why are hating on somebody else for not being ‘transparent’ when you’re not even revealing your name?”

      Answer: Because he’s not running around smugly claiming to be transparent, that’s why.

      MR. Hater isn’t making himself a hypocrite with his actions, as SEOMOZ and Rand Fishkin are.

  12. Avatar
    Fozzadar

    Doz and Moz aren’t the same product nor the same name, they are clearly separate from each other to the consumer. After experiencing similar ‘bullying’ from larger firms I desperately hope that you can continue to use the Doz brand. The moves by Moz make me sad as I used to hold utmost respect for them & their product.

  13. Avatar
    John P

    Tell SEOmoz to fuck off already.

  14. Avatar
    YK

    This is going to be interesting, I am almost willing to guarantee that the negative impact this move by SEOMOZ will have will be much worst than anything brand confusion with DOZ would have caused.

    Way to go Microsoft on the world, SEOMOZ.

  15. Avatar
    sososocurious

    Hi Sarah –

    Lets meet for brunch to discuss. Ill pick up the bagels. They are on sale for
    $8/mozen

  16. Avatar
    Mike

    Stand your ground. Don’t let that obnoxious douchebag Rand get his way. You have done nothing wrong.

    Good luck!

  17. Avatar
    MOZKILLA

    For once in the SEO space, I see a legitimate startup trying to offer something new and get actually work done instead of just providing recommendations. Oohh and it looks like one of the biggest SEO tool is not happy! Well I’m sorry SEO MOZ, but you seem very weak reacting this way!
    Let these guys build the future and partner with them instead of going against them!!
    What if mozilla goes against you and doesn’t let firefox users open moz.com?
    That would be a mozkilla hahaha
    >Don’t give up guys!<

  18. Avatar
    Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if doz.com successfully sued Rand Fishkin’s moz.com and won! After all, it seems doz.com was the first mover here.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if the big-funded Fishkin had to revert back to SEOMoz.com because he lost moz.com to doz.com?

    Where’s the intrepid, pro bono shark lawyer when you need one to help out doz.com?

  19. Avatar
    Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)
    • Avatar
      engineer

      Wait, SARAH lying bitch BIRD is a LAWYER? Then we must presume she’s not an idiot, therefore ,she knows enough about trademark law to know how disingenuous and dishonest she’s been in here representations to DOZ and here in this forum.

      ASTOUNDING!

      Yeah, like Googles “don’t be evil” the SEOMOZ “principles” are just PR for those who aren’t paying attention to their actions.

      When your “principles” go out the window as easily as this, they really weren’t principles at all. Not even guidelines. Certainly not rules. Just propaganda.

      Wow. Alas, lawyers are allowed to lie to opposition to try and induce them or intimidate them into giving up rights. No wonder SARAH lying bitch BIRD is here spewing so much grade a bullshit.

      But frankly, it shows her to be what her middle name says.

    • Avatar
      Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)

      Another great point, engineer.

      If she is indeed a lawyer, then she should rot in hell for this.

      Her, “I really hate doing this but” routine was just insane.

      I would REALLY REALLY enjoy seeing Rand have to revert back to his old SEO Moz name for this nonsense. That would be a great win for the little guy.

  20. Avatar
    Yush

    WOW! SEOMoz is a bunch of creepy evil fucks! Fuck that shit company!

  21. Avatar
    Not Complicated

    You’ve got a good case here. You have first use in commerce. You own your mark. They don’t own their service mark yet, though they have applied for it. You could protest their filing, it’s currently open for opposition. claim the same things they are (confusion in the marketplace) but you trump with first use, and they could very likely not get the registered service mark they are pre-emptively attempting to enforce. I hope you’ve contacted a good trademark attorney on this already, I assume so and they’ve confirmed your mark is not at risk. So good luck to them in getting your mark removed, they’ve got the uphill battle on this – not you. They do have VC money though and can burn through attorney time – they’re likely just hoping to make it too expensive for you to fight for your mark. TAGFEE my arse.

    • Avatar
      engineer

      ” they’re likely just hoping to make it too expensive for you to fight for your mark. TAGFEE my arse.”

      Also known as abusing the courts and trying to steal via intimidation.

    • Avatar
      Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)

      Not Complicated… you’re onto something…

      … Over at Hacker News, a comment by MichelleRobbins seems to confirm your thoughts:

      First use (actual use, not intent to use) in commerce matters. A lot. And it seems like Doz has that. Also, they already own their mark (they did register it, seems there’s confusion on that in this thread too). I know a guy that deals in this kind of thing literally every day – and after reviewing the marks and filings at uspto he says it’s a pretty long shot that Moz will get the Doz mark removed. (actually he said “no way will Doz lose their mark”) So unless those first use facts aren’t actual facts….well I reckon we’ll all wait and see how this plays out.

      Someone somewhere in this thread asked for an example of a similar situation. I can personally speak to that. Long ago and far away I worked at a software company and we developed a web based traffic analytics platform – pre webtrends even! Anyhoo we didn’t register the mark for it (young!) and we were contacted by someone who was trying to get their mark (same exact product name, similar functionality – a web traffic analytics program) registered. They told us we had to stop using the name, blah blah blah because they owned the trademark. Well, they actually didn’t – yet. And we had first use in commerce. So we opposed their application, it was denied, we filed ours (which they of course opposed), but we ultimately owned the mark. Solely because of first use in commerce.

      I don’t know every detail of this unfortunate scenario, but from what I’ve read here and on the blog post, it’s not at all a slam dunk for Moz. And it’s unfortunate that they, and the Doz folks are having to spend time, energy and money on this.

    • Avatar
      Joseph

      Intent-to-use applications trump first use in commerce because the law affords ITU application dates as constructive notice that the mark is going to be used. A person cannot use a mark in commerce after constructive notice (whether they actually knew or not) and claim priority over an ITU application. A court has never held otherwise and to say otherwise is in incorrect interpretation of the Lanham Act (the US trademark statute).

      The marks are also really close, only one letter apart, and sound very similar and cover nearly identical goods (DOZ v. MOZ). The likelihood of confusion claim is actually closer than commenters are making it out to be. The test is what consumers viewing the marks would think, not people in the SEO/tech community would think. If SEOMoz can gather evidence of actual confusion amongst consumers, that would be fatal to the DOZ trademark.

      In addition SEOMoz filed a fraud claim. Saying, “You can create a “coming soon” landing page describing what the site will be all about or use the name to advertise and promote your new site” is not true to establish use-in-commerce. The mark needs to be ACTUALLY used in commerce for ALL the listed goods/services (which SEOMoz’s complaints alleges was not true at the time of the filing, and alleges is still not true). Just having a site say we will, in the future, offer these services does not constitute use in commerce under the Lanham Act and case law. In other words, advertising future services is not use in commerce.

      Also, “For instance, private beta users would be considered “public use” because they are not part of your team” does not necessarily create use-in-commerce either (and I do not know where this “public use” terminology comes from). Some cases have held that this is mere “token use in commerce,” which does not qualify as actual use in commerce for trademark purposes. It depends who the services were offered to and for what purposes, which I obviously do not know from the facts above or the complaint and answer.

      I am not saying SEOMoz will win or lose, but this case is not frivolous or a slam dunk for Capseo. It will be interesting to follow this case, if for nothing else, to see if the fraud claims hold up.

    • Avatar
      Joseph

      A little caveat about ITU and first dates. An ITU application trumps first date in commerce ONLY if the ITU application was filed before first use in commerce by the other party. In this case the DOZ mark was filed on 3/12/2012 as an ITU application and first used in commerce on 1/11/2012 so their priority date is 1/11/2012.

      The MOZ application was filed on 8/15/2011 which is before DOZ was ever used in commerce or an application was filed. Thus, MOZ has priority over DOZ even though its first use date was later.

      *I got this information from the USPTO website

  22. Avatar
    Giant Slayer

    Wow! I really hope you have the financial wherewithall to turn this around on SEOMOZ and try to take their MOZ domain from them. It sounds like “Goliath” didn’t realize they were attacking “David”. Don’t give up. Make them pay for their greed and lack of ethics.

  23. Avatar
    Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)

    Why the pitchforks?

    Because Rand is a colossal douchebag. And this latest “tactic” was the ultimate low blow.

    He’s constantly preaching for us to play by the rules… do the right thing… rise above the junk, etc…

    … But then behind the scenes, he’s as dirty as the psychopathic crook we’re all taught to avoid.

    Here’s something no one talks about – Rand does a link-wheel version of Twitter spam. Check it out for yourself… look for a new post on his blog (usually early in the morning) – then click on the number of “tweets”… that shows you all of the Twitter link wheels he has going. In fact, it’s not unusual for any new blog post to have hundreds of retweets in mere minutes.

    Where’s the TAGFREE on that?

    If you’ve followed him over the years, you know he plays traffic cop with those who he feels is not 100% organic with Google. In my neck of the woods we call that person a freakin’ snitch…

    … Rand is totally in bed with the spam team at Google. And Rand’s business is mostly lock step with we internet marketers playing by Google’s rules.

    Rand tells us negative SEO is BS. He “proves it” by publicly inviting anyone to knock his site down with a negative campaign. But when you’re best buds are at the Google webspam team, they can override this penalty in a click of a button.

    Let’s talk about PPC. Rand CONTINUOUSLY tells us that there’s no need to invest in paid clicks when free traffic is ours for the taking. But did you know (according to SpyFu) Rand invests almost $10,000.00 a day in paid clicks:

    http://www.spyfu.com/domain.aspx?d=-4530455124116454415

    How about that!

    But here’s the absolute, hand’s-down proof that Rand is a Google tool:

    Rand likes to repeat the mantra that creating great content is how you sidestep Google’s algo penalties. But this is mostly untrue…

    … The real reason for convincing us to write great content is so Google can steal it and use it as their own content on their first page of results.

    See for yourself. Search for any famous person – try:

    Elton John

    See how Google curates (steals) a ton of data (from us) and publishes on their own site?

    The only link in that entire bank of results is to Wikipedia (which Google is a funding partner of – Google hides this fact quite nicely by the way).

    This is the REAL reason Google sends us a fraction of the traffic we once got just a few short years ago.

    Does Rand talk about this? I haven’t heard anything.

    But Rand is going to continue to sell us $99-a-month-marginally-useful analytics on the hope on getting back on the first page of Google – ain’t going to happen… those days are never coming back.

    I could go on and on.

  24. Avatar
    jj

    Moz is evil.
    I hate that kind of behavior. Anji you should work on your business and not fight for your name.
    Mozilla’s lawyer is going to contact you @ Moz haha!

  25. Avatar
    Steve Logan

    What a horrible mess for all parties. Personally, I wouldn’t have expected this kind of action from Moz, but that probably says more about my ignorance than anything else. It appears to be a very ugly, corporate move from a company that should know better.

    Sadly I don’t know enough about US copyright law to make any legal comment, but from an uninformed point of view I have to say that my support would be fully on the side of Doz. Again, from an outsider’s perspective this looks a little like bullying, an assertion that appears to be backed up by the wholly unnecessary and unfortunate comments from the company, its lawyer and some associates.

    Best of luck in your fight and it will certainly be interesting to see how this one plays out for both parties, as I can’t imagine either coming out entirely unscathed.

  26. Avatar
    Jerome
  27. Avatar
    Ramon Jimenez, UBIFRANCE trade advisor

    One moral of this story is that when entering when working in the US, you need to be prepared. DOZ should have used UBIFRANCE’s services (full disclosure: I am with UBIFRANCE).

    The US is an litigious country, it is a just the cost of doing business here. UBIFRANCE (the French Trade Embassy Trade Office) deals with these issues everyday on behalf of French companies, which is partially why UBIFRANCE has american lawyers on their staff (full disclosure: I am one of those lawyers).

    Yes UBIFRANCE, although is a government agency, is not free, but highly subsidized. This is trade mark issue would have been something that we would have spotted because it is one of the first things we look into when a French companies engage our services. After spotting the issue we would have than found you an affordable attorney.

    Good luck Anji, drop by the office when you find time. We are here to help.

    • Avatar
      Anji Ismail

      Hi Ramon,
      Thank for your feedback and pitch about Ubifrance 🙂 great services by the way !

      It would have been hard to spot the trademark issue, since we were planning to launch with that name in the US for over 2 years (domain name bought in April 2011), and we’ve done in depth trademark search before filling.

      See you,

  28. Avatar
    Harold (@Harold)

    For many years, whenever I have seen “Moz”, the singer comes to mind. A simple Google search confirms this. Is the singer aware of SEOMoz’s efforts at usurping his brand?

  29. Avatar
    [email protected]
  30. Avatar
    Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)

    Whoever moderates inbound.org (co-founded by Rand Fishkin) deleted my comment (once again… quietly overnight).

    Now I always take screen grabs of my comments… here’s what got deleted:

    http://oi40.tinypic.com/2uyrluu.jpg

    TAGFEE? What a sad joke.

    The coverup is always worse than the crime.

  31. Avatar
    Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)

    It’s official. I’ve been banned from inbound.org.

    Reason given: “We don’t like haters.”

    So there ya’ go… nothing I said was debunked. So Rand directed one of his modes to do the cowardly thing and ban me.

    I guess TAGFEE is official dead there.

  32. Avatar
    Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)
  33. Avatar
    matthewotoole

    There’s a simple solution to all this: Anji simply re-brands to soz.com! ;n)

  34. Avatar
    Mr. Hater (@TheMisterHater)

    SWEET! I see Rand Fishkin got this removed article from inbound.org. Now that’s TAGFEE (sarcasm).

  35. Moz doz not like competition - trademark hijacking

    […] Doz makes some really good arguments, while Moz just wants them gone. […]

  36. Avatar
    Jason Grimes

    If you’ve met the Moz create they are not afraid of competition. Rand is as transparent as they come – both good and bad. Remember – this is business, be nimble.

  37. Avatar
    Spook SEO

    This is very sad. I hope there’s a way to have the issue resolved without having to go through the nasty legal stuff. I mean, I for one think that internet marketers or online entrepreneurs have a special sense of camaraderie or brotherhood (if I may say). This is very sad indeed.

  38. Law For Startups In India - The WukiLabs Blog | The WukiLabs Blog

    […] but also in other product names that we want to brand as our products with “Wuki”. This gives a strong hold on the market as a distinct entity. What should be kept in mind is that the name which is registered as a […]

  39. Avatar
  40. Avatar
    Jay Patel

    A horrible mess. Hopefully, both parties come to some conclusion. Don’t give up. Give them a good fight.

  41. Avatar
    Nick Samuel

    I remember reading this a few months back and just “stumbled” upon again on inbound.org…I see Doz site is still up, is legal action still ongoing or have you come to an agreement?

  42. Avatar
    Barbara352

    Trademark is important for the credibility of a service as it breeds clarity and doesn’t confuses the prospect. Thanks sharing this fantastic post, this is detailed and complete. Glad I came across this post.

    P.S: Why are people fighting?

  43. SEOMoss - A rolling stone doesn't gather moss. How Moz Tanked

    […] The only “business” that comes close to them is the Church of Scientology – And Moz love sending out those lawyer letters, as […]

  44. Recently Rebranded Moz Files Petition To Cancel Online Marketing Company Doz Trademark « TLC Niche Marketing

    […] states that the Doz trademark was filed on December 25, 2012, but in the comments thread of an article published by Doz CEO Anji Ismail titled “Why trademarks are important for startups OR How SEOMoz […]

  45. Law For Startups In India - WukiLabs

    […] but also in other product names that we want to brand as our products with “Wuki”. This gives a strong hold on the market as a distinct entity. What should be kept in mind is that the name which is registered as a […]

  46. Avatar
    usefulfreesoftware.com

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