Trademark/domain name question

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  • Stickman 18 Sep 2013 15:17:52 29,666 posts
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    Quick (-ish)question for the hivemind...

    My kid's childminder has run her own business for a good few years called 'Funky Monkeys Childminders' in Nottingham. She's received an email from some guy over in Northern Ireland who owns a children's soft play business with 8 premises over there saying that he's now trademarked the name 'Funky Monkeys' and that she's got to change her business name otherwise he's going to sue her.

    She also owns the domain name 'funky-monkeys.co.uk', whereas his is 'funkymonkeys.co.uk'. He's again threatened her with legal action if she doesn't hand the domain name over to him, free of charge, immediately.

    Legal matters aside, the emails are pretty rude and unpleasant, he's clearly trying to 'muscle' her a bit and get her scared that he'll basically ruin her.

    What's the actual legal rights of everyone here? Can you even trademark 'Funky Monkeys'? It's not exactly an uncommon phrase. Also, surely he can't just demand domain names willy nilly, can he? She's even offered to sell it to him, which set him RIGHT off!

    I'd appreciate some facts about what he can and can't demand if anyone knows about this sort of thing. Ta.

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  • Mr_Sleep 18 Sep 2013 15:22:06 17,061 posts
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    It's probably worth having a look here. Nominet hold the overall right to .uk domain names and they're sure to have some information or she can get in touch with them directly.

    You are a factory of sadness.

  • nickthegun 18 Sep 2013 15:24:44 59,875 posts
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    The first thing to do is tell him that you await instruction from his solicitor, then you can be sure its not some cunt talking out of his arse and trying to flannel you.

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  • henro_ben 18 Sep 2013 15:24:48 2,216 posts
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    She needs to talk to a solicitor!

    But this might be of some use - she can challenge the trademark if she's been trading for longer than he has...

    http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm/t-other/t-object.htm
  • rudedudejude 18 Sep 2013 15:24:49 2,172 posts
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    He can only make her move if there' a mistake that her business could assumed to be his, was in direct competition, was only created after his went live etc etcg.

    Generally, you have nothing to worry about. The best option is to offer him a payment for it, we get it all the time with domain squatters on some company domains.

    I've know companies pay £5k - £10k to release a domain from a squatter before.
  • Deleted user 18 September 2013 15:28:21
    I'm pretty sure with URLs they decided upon a law of precedent, that is if you had a domain before their trademark (and with no expectation of a trademark being created in the future, IE someone rushing to grab grandtheftauto6.com or something), they can do fuck all legally.
  • spamdangled 18 Sep 2013 15:31:45 27,355 posts
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    Don't they have to be able to show they are actively trading under that name as well? He could be trademark troll (think the old term for it was cyber-squatter, but I'm a bit rusty on my early 90s lingo)

    Edited by darkmorgado at 15:33:26 18-09-2013

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  • elstoof 18 Sep 2013 15:36:56 7,293 posts
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    Until he actually does bring legal action, I would ignore it personally. I doubt he has much to base any claims on, so that wouldn't be happening any time soon.
  • Stickman 18 Sep 2013 15:57:34 29,666 posts
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    Cool, I'll just reassure her and tell her to call his bluff and go from there. Cheers.

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  • mrpon 18 Sep 2013 16:12:12 28,893 posts
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    Looks like his company dissolved on 11/06/2013 sticky.

    Give yourself £5 or ½ gig, you're worth it.

  • spamdangled 18 Sep 2013 16:15:57 27,355 posts
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    mrpon wrote:
    Looks like his company dissolved on 11/06/2013 sticky.
    bingo.

    Your friend is in the clear, Stickman.

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  • DaM 18 Sep 2013 16:23:36 13,139 posts
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    mrpon wrote:
    Looks like his company dissolved on 11/06/2013 sticky.
    Nice find, never thought to check, just did a whois.

    Looks like she's fine then - otherwise I would say he had a reasonable legal case, if his business was around first, with a similar (I know...) business, and a hyphen stuck in his domain name.
  • Stickman 18 Sep 2013 16:47:59 29,666 posts
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    mrpon wrote:
    Looks like his company dissolved on 11/06/2013 sticky.
    His company did what now?

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  • mrpon 18 Sep 2013 17:01:47 28,893 posts
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    Ceased trading.

    However he does have a registered trademark, but I'd argue it was in a different sector.

    I'm by no means an expert, so this is more a FYI.

    Give yourself £5 or ½ gig, you're worth it.

  • Dougs 18 Sep 2013 17:04:55 67,664 posts
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    Yeah, Nominet all the way.
  • Stickman 18 Sep 2013 17:05:59 29,666 posts
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    Yeah, I dunno about that. He's called Mark Simpson and it seems to be a franchise based model of play centres. He's only started sending these emails last week which seems a bit odd if the company doesn't exist!

    Edit - that looks to me as though his trademark is only for that particular image anyway. Plus, as you say is registered under entertainment and food and drink.

    Edited by Stickman at 17:08:06 18-09-2013

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  • spamdangled 18 Sep 2013 17:08:24 27,355 posts
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    mrpon wrote:
    Ceased trading.

    However he does have a registered trademark, but I'd argue it was in a different sector.

    I'm by no means an expert, so this is more a FYI.
    Doesn't his claim on the trademark substantially weaken though if he's not actively using it since the business has disolved? I know it was a US case and so the law will be different over here, but I seem to recall this being the crux of the whole Tim Langdell debacle, as the c*nt wasn't producing squat and was just sitting on the name and firing off threats to all and sundry hoping for easy money.

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  • Stickman 18 Sep 2013 17:19:13 29,666 posts
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    It all seems a bit odd, this.

    The company number that the domain is registered to does indeed appear to be dissolved, yet it has a different address to the registered address of his company.

    Also, as I said above, his trademark is the logo, NOT the name.

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  • spamdangled 18 Sep 2013 17:20:57 27,355 posts
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    If his trademark isn't the name, he has f*ck all case against your mate anyway, unless for some unlikely reason she had plans to use his logo.
    Might want to check via free legal advice through CAB or maybe home insurance if it includes it, but fairly certain given that that he's an chancer and you can tell him to go and fuck himself.

    Edited by darkmorgado at 17:23:43 18-09-2013

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  • henro_ben 18 Sep 2013 17:22:41 2,216 posts
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    They're Funky Monkeys Playcentres Ltd are they not? Still active according to companies house.
  • mrpon 18 Sep 2013 17:23:51 28,893 posts
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    The registered address can sometimes be the accountants address or head office, normally different from the actual trading address.

    Give yourself £5 or ½ gig, you're worth it.

  • Stickman 18 Sep 2013 17:25:41 29,666 posts
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    henro_ben wrote:
    They're Funky Monkeys Playcentres Ltd are they not? Still active according to companies house.
    Yeah, they are still active.

    You couldn't claim it was a different sector either; childminder would fall into Class 43.

    Need to see if it's just the logo then. If it is he can go and drown in a ball pool.

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  • spamdangled 18 Sep 2013 17:26:33 27,355 posts
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    henro_ben wrote:
    They're Funky Monkeys Playcentres Ltd are they not? Still active according to companies house.
    Doesn't matter if he's active or not if his trademark isn't on the name though does it (and the fact he includes the word "Playcenter" in the name means it wouldn't count as duplicate business title and create a clash? or is that wrong?)? And as his company name specifies the area of business and is in NI, am I right in thinking she can ignore him (assuming she's not looking to open a chain of playcenters anytime soon)?

    Mowgli might be of some use here, he's in the legal biz after all isn't he?

    Edited by darkmorgado at 17:29:08 18-09-2013

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  • mrpon 18 Sep 2013 17:28:28 28,893 posts
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    Ah, the dissolved company number was listed on the whois. I guess they haven't updated it.

    Give yourself £5 or ½ gig, you're worth it.

  • Stickman 18 Sep 2013 17:31:58 29,666 posts
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    darkmorgado wrote:
    Doesn't matter if he's active or not if his trademark isn't on the name though does it (and the fact he includes the word "Playcenter" in the name means it wouldn't count as duplicate business title and create a clash? or is that wrong?)? And as his company name specifies the area of business and is in NI, am I right in thinking she can ignore him (assuming she's not looking to open a chain of playcenters anytime soon)?
    Playcentres and childminders all fall under the same Class unfortunately. He's trying to expand his franchise into mainland UK, which is why this has surfaced now I think.

    That said, I'm more and more convinced his TM is for the branding, and the two websites are clearly completely different which I think you could argue would stop any confusion with the public.

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  • spamdangled 18 Sep 2013 17:37:49 27,355 posts
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    This is all getting a bit iffy and complex. Think maybe you (well, your mate) should look into getting proper legal advice sticky. If she has home insurance or contents cover, I think most policies include legal advice as a free extra (I know mine does).

    Or, dare I say it, just consider coming up with a different name as it's all starting to sound like it could be more hassle than it's worth to challenge it.

    Edited by darkmorgado at 17:40:05 18-09-2013

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  • Dougs 18 Sep 2013 17:38:34 67,664 posts
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    Either way, she's under no compulsion to do anything (at this point) I don't think. Disputes are pretty common and Nominet have established processes for resolving the issues.
  • Stickman 18 Sep 2013 17:38:54 29,666 posts
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    Yeah, can't hurt. Not sure "some blokes off the internet said..." would stand up too well in court.

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  • spamdangled 18 Sep 2013 17:40:57 27,355 posts
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    Stickman wrote:
    Yeah, can't hurt. Not sure "some blokes off the internet said..." would stand up too well in court.
    Exactly :D

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  • superdelphinus 18 Sep 2013 17:48:16 8,059 posts
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    You need to get specific advice on the facts, anything to do with IP is generally a mess in one way or another. Bits of this (and also some of the counter claims your friend could potentially make) depend on time frames, actions preceding and post-infringement claim, and assessment of the marks and the market itself and you really need to get specialist advice.
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