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Trademark turmoil update April 30, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Web sites.
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The controversy between Route 66 vendors, retailer Zazzle.com and a firm in the Netherlands that is claiming trademark ownership of the Route 66 shield morphed from aggravating to surreal.

It was reported a few days ago that Route66Licensing.com and a sister site, Tempting Brands.com, is claiming a trademark of “Route 66″ and its shield. Subsequently, Netherlands firm persuaded Zazzle.com to remove the listings of American vendors sellingRoute 66-related products on the website. However, Route 66 and the Route 66 exist in the public domain in the United States, and cannot be trademarked here.

The situation turned especially strange in the past 24 hours when it was learned that this image of the Route 66 ghost town of Spencer, Mo., by Mike Skidmore was removed by Zazzle after another infringement claim by Route66Licensing.com:

The part of the image that apparently ran afoul is the replica of the old Phillips 66 gas station sign. Route66Licensing.com either is claiming the Phillips 66 sign is a Route 66 sign, or a hypercautious Zazzle nixed the image without looking at it closely. Jim Ross, a Route 66 expert in Oklahoma, wrote in response:

Where are these Zazzle idiots from? Do they not realize that the shield pictured is a trademarked brand of Phillips Petroleum? If they are not going to  require any proof whatsoever of brand ownership from Route 66 Licensing, then we need to organize a boycott of  Zazzle as well. In fact, it might be a worthwhile to investigate whether Zazzle can be sued for violating laws of interstate commerce or unfair trade practices.

E-mails to Zazzle and Route66Licensing.com from Route 66 News have gone unanswered.

In the meantime, longtime New Mexico Route 66 advocate Johnnie Meier on Friday built stoproute66licensing.com as a way to fight back. he said in an e-mail:

We will construct the web site cataloging abuses by route66licensing.com.

We will provide well-researched and documented resource information on the shield image, Route 66, Mother Road and other identifiers claimed by route66licensing.com.

We will also expose the route66licensing.com tactics used to unethically register Route 66 identifiers as trademarks in foreign markets.

After a fact-finding period, we will be organizing aggressive action against route66licensing.com.

I’m convinced the folks at Zazzle are asleep at the switch, and these probably are isolated incidents. However, the problem has become so potentially serious that it’s time to put Zazzle and Route66Licensing.com on notice. The financial future of many Route 66 retailers could be at stake.

Comments»

1. Steve Brant - April 30, 2010

I highly recommend the USA-based Route 66 community switch to using CafePress.com for T-Shirts, Coffee Cups, Hats, etc. I am not associated with CafePress, but I have seen other organizations use them and see from their web site they are based in California. Here is their contact info for intellectual property issues, so you can double-check this particular issue with them before making the switch…

http://www.cafepress.com/cp/info/help/index.aspx?page=iprights.aspx

CafePress.com
Attn: Candice Carr
Intellectual Property Rights Agent
1850 Gateway Drive
Suite 300
San Mateo, CA 94404

Email: [email protected]
Telephone: (650) 655-3120
Fax: (650) 240-0260

My personal philosophy: Get as far away from this person who is looking to harm the USA Route 66 community as possible. Whoever he is, in my opinion his values are nothing like ours. He represents the worst side of humanity: selfishness and greed.

I hope the CafePress people – because they are in the USA – will agree that with my opinion that they can ignore this nut’s efforts to stop hard working American from making money from America’s Mother Road!

2. RT - April 30, 2010

Get’em Johnnie Get’em!!! There’s a can of you know what coming your way Netherlands! lol Phillips 66 Petrolium too, you’ve got to be kidding me? Someone needs to call Conoco/Phillips, I’m sure their lawyers would foam at the mouth to the free tip…

3. john knight - May 1, 2010

G0 for it chaps, these parasites need stopping in their tracks, the same thing happened with all Marilyn Monroe stuff, some german geezer tried to tie it up for himself.

4. Jammin John - May 1, 2010

We at Bounce Radio are also looking for an alternative to Zazzle. All our Route 66 Radio Show merchandise was pulled simply because it said “Route 66″ in the title or somewhere in the graphic. All of our designs were unique and original graphics.

Cafepress is good if you want just a couple of items. If you want full product lines though, they charge a monthly fee. This is not a great solution for those who don’t have very high volume sales. We are currently evaluating all our options.

5. Ed - May 1, 2010

That’s the problem with them ‘being on the other side of the pond’.
They are out of arms length from one of us (or all of us) knocking on their door and letting them know ‘how wrong they are’.

Oops – looks like I better stop using my logo and my business name…

I think I will risk it.

6. redforkhippie - May 1, 2010

I want these people bankrupt. NOW.

7. US 71 - May 2, 2010

I’ve had problems with Cafe Press. Someone in Spain “borrowed” one of my non-66 photos and started using it to sell T-shirts. I filed a complaint with CP and the seller removed my photo, but NOT the products. Cafe Press has refused to do anything more about the problem, even though the photo was labeled “All Rights Reserved”.

8. tonimarie - May 4, 2010

My favorite thing is if you go to that route66licensing website they say stuff like “one of the most searched brands” in order to justify whatever they’re charging rubes to “license” use of the name Route 66. As though they MADE it a popular brand. All they did is take something that is generic and widely used (the shield and highway name) and say “hey we own this, and it’s popular”.

I had a few small zazzle items that I made a total of $15 from (still haven’t reached the $25 minimum, hehe) because I never really promoted them. It was more of a test run with Zazzle.

But as someone who lives on 66 and sees all of the museums, souveniers, etc .. I was appalled at the way Zazzle just assumed the european folk could do this and didn’t even demand proof other than their fancy bogus website.

I think I’ll start selling rights to interstate 80.

9. RT - May 4, 2010

I have written Tempting Brands and given them a piece of my mind, not that I expect that to deter them just yet, but I would highly suggest everyone get everyone to write or e-mail them all day long into oblivion! Then maybe we can get the United States government and Conoco/Phillips to sue the you know what out of them – Go Johnnie, Go Emilie – Get’em!!!

Tempting Brands B.V.
Westerkade 27-3
1015 XE Amsterdam
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)20 778 2156
http://www.temptingbrands.com

Martijn Berkhout MA
Managing Director
E: [email protected]

Write them, e-mail them, phone them, whatever it takes?

10. Darleen - May 5, 2010

Is there any way of finding out what products they license? Those are the products the entire Route 66 community should ban from their shelves!


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