Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Image

Woman Trademarks Name and Threatens Sites Using It 273

Posted by samzenpus
from the keep-my-name-out-of-your-mouth dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Be careful mentioning Dr. Ann De Wees Allen. She's made it clear that she's trademarked her name and using it is 'illegal... without prior written permission.' She even lists out the names of offenders and shows you the cease-and-desist letter she sends them. And, especially don't copy any of the text on her website, because she's using a bit of javascript that will warn you 'Copyright Protect!' if you right click on a link."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Woman Trademarks Name and Threatens Sites Using It

Comments Filter:
  • Worthless Trademark (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Monday September 20, 2010 @10:34AM (#33635526) Journal

    It's a common misconception that a trademark registration gives you some sort of proprietary right over the mark. People think that it'll allow them to stop anyone from even mentioning the mark.

    But the problem for them is that a trademark is not designed to give them property rights, but designed to prevent the public from being mislead about the origins of a product. In order to infringe a trademark, the public must have a likelihood of confusion as to which product they're buying or using. So, if a company infringes claims to be Dr. Ann De Wees Allen's company and starts selling a competing product, then she'd have a case against them. She has absolutely no case against someone just mentioning her name off-hand. My post mentioning "Dr. Ann De Wees Allen" does not create any confusion in the person reading my post that somehow my post is actually from "Dr. Ann De Wees Allen". She's got a worthless trademark.

    The funny thing is that she's actually got a fairly well known IP firm to prosecute the trademark, so she must've spent at least several thousand dollars in getting this worthless trademark registration. I wonder if the firm warned her that the mark is useless and she persisted anyway, or if the firm omitted the worthless nature of the mark to her.

    On a sidenote, for hilarity's sake, let's refer to her as "She Who Cannot Be Named."

    • by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Monday September 20, 2010 @10:36AM (#33635558) Journal

      http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=76116199 [uspto.gov] ---- Here's a link to her trademark registration, by the way.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Haedrian (1676506)

      Dear Sir/Madam

      We notice that you have used "Dr. Ann De Wees Allen" 3 times in the above comment. Dr. Ann De Wees Allen is a trademark held by Dr. Ann De Wees Allen.

      Therefore we are suing you into oblivion.

      Love

      MoneyHungryLawers R Us

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mooingyak (720677)

      my post is actually from "Dr. Ann De Wees Allen"

      Just thought I'd point out you actually said that.

    • by julesh (229690) on Monday September 20, 2010 @10:58AM (#33635932)

      But the problem for them is that a trademark is not designed to give them property rights, but designed to prevent the public from being mislead about the origins of a product

      Looking at the list of sites that have apparently been sent notices of infringement, it is worth noting that this is precisely what they were doing. These sites were basically all people who were selling supposed fitness-improving supplements (e.g. protein drinks, that kind of stuff), one of which She Who Must Not Be Named apparently invented, and seemed to be using her name to indicate that she was somehow involved with their businesses when (it appears) she wasn't.

      For instance, this site [agelsolution.com] appears to sell a drink made with her formulation. However, according to her own site she has not licensed that formulation to them, and nor are they in any way associated with her.

      It seems to me that this is an entirely valid use of trademark law. Yes, some of the language on her site is a little strong, but it seems (at least as long as she isn't outright lying about this) that the people receiving the takedown notices are deserving of them.

      • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Monday September 20, 2010 @11:09AM (#33636130)

        Yeah, I mean, why let something like logic get in the way of some good Slashdot nerdrage?

        In any case, I think people here are worked up in part because they think she's a quack and there's no medical science behind what she's selling, which is almost surely true. But that's a failure of the FDA and FTC and the powers vested in them by Congress, not of trademark law.

        While this sounds like a somewhat aggressive use of trademark law, if she's really just preventing people from falsely creating the impression that they are selling endorsed or licensed products or otherwise making use of her name to compete against her own products, I don't see anything worth nerdraging about from a trademark perspective.

        I hate quacks as much as the next geek, but we should hate them because they reject science and mislead the public, rather than that they are enforcing trademarks aggressively.

      • by Improv (2467)

        I see nothing in that site that indicates approval. It appears to be simple facts about the history of the formula. Saying "This is FOO brand" is different than noting "We make X, which was originally concocted by FOO".

      • Wrong Mark (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The parent post raises a good point but identifies the wrong problem.

        Fair use is a defense to infringement, and the only uses I see on agesolutions.com appear to be truthful and factual, relating to Dr. Named's US Patent No. 6608109 expiring no later than 11/20/2011. Indeed, rather than considering this "an entirely valid use of trademark law," I'd see it as an egregious example of bad-faith, improper use of trademark law. Dr. Named's company doesn't appear to market the product with the mark as a

      • by uglyduckling (103926) on Monday September 20, 2010 @12:12PM (#33637214) Homepage
        Nah, what they're doing is the equivalent of saying "Mono is based upon .net, which was developed by Microsoft (TM)". That's not the same as violating a trademark, it's just stating a fact.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Me-Who-Cannot-Be-Named!
    • by DJRumpy (1345787)

      Informative AND funny first post, and on a Monday morning no less.

      Has hell frozen over?

      On a sidenote, for hilarity's sake, let's refer to her as "She Who Cannot Be Named."

    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      Time to Google bomb "Dr. Ann De Wees Allen" and "stupid bitch" together. Kind of how we all did SCO with "litigious bastards".

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Well obviously talking about trademarks is fine. Otherwise /. would have been sued all over by all the brands that are commonly mentioned in the postings. Linux, Microsoft, HP, Dell, Nokia. I'm free to name them, I can just not claim them as my own.

      As another poster already pointed out, talking about trademarks is fine, trying to sell a product/service using the mark while you do not own the mark and you may confuse the buyer is not OK. It is even possible to have the same mark registered by multiple peopl

    • "she who doesn't WANT to be named"

      not to be confused with "The artist whose former name was held captive by his record label"

    • by mcheu (646116)

      So, would it give her any protection in case of identity theft? Surely someone's causing market confusion about the product in that case.

    • by eclectus (209883)

      No. We should refer to her as Prince. That should irritate them both.

  • by Ecuador (740021) on Monday September 20, 2010 @10:37AM (#33635582) Homepage

    we can't just type "Dr. Ann De Wees Allen is a hoot", we have to type "Dr. Ann De Wees Allen(TM) is a hoot" ?

  • hmm (Score:2, Informative)

    My friend Sony Peterson told me this kind of thing is starting to gain traction.
  • Skinny "Science" (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Monday September 20, 2010 @10:39AM (#33635620) Journal
    She has two [uspto.gov] patents [uspto.gov] that appear to show both what is wrong with America's diet mentality and the patent system all at once.

    She's basically pimping out arginine [mayoclinic.com] as a panacea (from increased sexual performance to weight-loss). Just read about her wondrous achievements on Skinny Science Corporation: A Leading Biomedical Research Company [skinnyscience.com]. Never have I seen the word "science" so abused and raped by words around it. And it doesn't stop there. Google her name or "skinny science" and you're left with a plethora of bullshit sites [skinnysciencecoffee.com] with her vapid stare hawking complete medical farces designed to prey on the obese. Surprise surprise, she wants it to be illegal for you to talk about her and these sites.

    Does anybody know how she got the prefix of "Dr."?
    • by Nikker (749551)
      I'm sure you can trademark pretty much anything since it's just a representation of an entity and not a literal meaning. I would guess I could trademark "Pope Nikker" and not have to actually be identified as such by the Vatican.
    • by PeterKraus (1244558) <peter.kraus@member.fsf.org> on Monday September 20, 2010 @10:47AM (#33635762) Homepage

      Shorthand for Drunk.

    • by Haedrian (1676506)

      Does anybody know how she got the prefix of "Dr."?

      Maybe her parents named her "Dr. Ann" ?

    • How about we refer to Dr. Ann De Wees Allen as "The quack who shall not be named"?

      BTW, wonder how long before this article is the first hit when people google her?

    • by gatzke (2977)

      There are plenty of places online selling Doctorates.

      One classic claims to convert your "life experiences" into credit for a doctorate, no classes needed.

      Heck, you can even become a pope online: http://jubal.westnet.com/hyperdiscordia/popecard.html [westnet.com]

      • by daveime (1253762)

        Don't you have to chop off the existing one's head with a heavy sword and go through all that lightning and screaming bit first ?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by julesh (229690)

      Does anybody know how she got the prefix of "Dr."?

      According to the bio on her web site, she's a "Board Certified Doctor of Naturopathy". This appears to mean she has completed a level of education equivalent to a doctorate in most other fields, although she doesn't state where she received the qualification.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Improv (2467)

        Unfortunately, in the US we don't tend to protect terms very much - this is an area where we don't get the nuances of wanting political or personal expression to be relatively unconstrained versus the desire to ensure honesty in certain areas worked out correctly. Chances are somebody made up a board (maybe her?) and declared her to be a doctor - I suspect that using the title of doctor in that way is legal in most states.

        I think occasionally one finds the term "Engineer" protected by law.

        • by julesh (229690)

          Unfortunately, in the US we don't tend to protect terms very much - this is an area where we don't get the nuances of wanting political or personal expression to be relatively unconstrained versus the desire to ensure honesty in certain areas worked out correctly. Chances are somebody made up a board (maybe her?) and declared her to be a doctor - I suspect that using the title of doctor in that way is legal in most states

          According to her site, she's based in DC, and judging by wikipedia's article on naturop

    • Google her name

      Can't, I'm not allowed. :(

  • by pruss (246395) on Monday September 20, 2010 @10:40AM (#33635638) Homepage

    I just typed ctrl-a, ctrl-c, and, poof!, all of the text of the page was in my clipboard. :-)

    • It does stop me from clicking on the scroll bar to scroll.

    • NoScript > Copyright Protect

  • Hence, even recommending the doctor by name in an email could be considered infringing.

    So I won't recommend her to any other potential clients.

    But, as others note, I can put her name down and put the (TM) trademark symbol up and that is OK, just like when I refer to Sony or 3M.

    Ill thought out in my estimation, though I understand what she is trying to do.

  • This is nothing new (Score:3, Informative)

    by SpuriousLogic (1183411) on Monday September 20, 2010 @10:44AM (#33635700)
    All kinds of people have tried this in the past, almost always in order to control negative information from being published about them. However, the courts have ALWAYS ruled that a person's name is fair use. She (just like the thousands before her), won't get anywhere with this. Even if a proper name was not fair use, having a trademark does not prevent people from talking about the trademark. At the most, it would prevent someone form using her trademark to infringe on her IP (e.g. counterfeiting). Basically, she's an idiot.
    • However, the courts have ALWAYS ruled that a person's name is fair use.

      This may be true, but this guy's [nissan.com] story is an indication of how expensive it can be to defend that fair use.

  • by Palestrina (715471) * on Monday September 20, 2010 @10:45AM (#33635720) Homepage

    Mother names new born daughter "Ann de Wees Allen". Is this trademark infringement? By mother? Child? Or does it require a "Dr."? If so, who infringes, the PhD student? Or the university?

    I think it is bad, as a matter of public policy, to allow trademarks on names. Otherwise I could be sued, since my name is Bob Weir.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vtcodger (957785)

      ***I think it is bad, as a matter of public policy, to allow trademarks on names.***

      Not really. Where the name is a genuine product like, say Jenny Craig, trademarking offers some protection against folks marketing their own "Jenny Craig" weight loss products unrelated to the original. I don't see a public policy problem with that.

      • It probably depends if it is considered a famous trademark or not. I was talking to an IP lawyer conversationally this weekend about a similar subject (past slashdot article: a person trying to sell 3rd party software that leverages Ebay advertising their product online.)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by canajin56 (660655)

          Being famous only affects whether or not it qualifies for trademark dilution law. Trademark dilution protects you from non-competing uses of your trademark, if your trademark is famous enough that the trademark is associated with your product and nothing else. eBay makes you think of the eBay auction site and nothing else. Pepsi makes you think of the drink, not of anything else. On the other hand, while Apple might make you think of computers, there are many other trademark holders who use Apple in th

      • But that is a trademark on weight loss products. It isn't a trademark on a person's name.
    • Nobody infringes. None of the uses are commercial and create a likelihood of confusion as to the source of goods.

  • Ellie K (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ellie K (1804464)
    I'd noticed that Chris Messina, the Open ID advocate and recent or current Google employee, had also trademarked his name recently. He displays it that way on internet profile pages. So far it has mostly been an inconvenience to me, in using the correct mark-up to designate TM whenever I quote him for some OAuth or OpenID article. I'd wondered why he possibly would want to trademark his name. He runs it all together as "chrismessina" or the character decimal code: chrismessina&amp#8482; if I remembere
  • My Name... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 20, 2010 @10:48AM (#33635798)

    I don't want to protect my name. She'll be screaming it later.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...the meaning of the phrase "Streisand effect" :)

  • Funny how (even if you have javacript turned on, which i usually dont have) easily you can get around seeing these funny messages generated by an incompetent web designer and still copy the text.

    Did i now violate laws? will somebody sue me because i help people to circumvent anything?

    Moreover if not all appearances of a trademark carry a (tm) symbol and it is not mentioned that all appearances of the name relate to the trademark (i dont believe you would find this sentence in every manual if it would not b

  • http://www.quackometer.net/ [quackometer.net]

    gives it a zero cannard rating. This means her site is not quack.

    I've already complained to the quackometer.net admin about this.

    -paul

    • by eth1 (94901)

      Yes, but it also rates Slashdot at zero Canards, so it's obviously full of crap...

    • by makomk (752139)

      Sadly, I believe the quackometer can only detect particularly well-known and prolific signs of quackery. Some quacks just can't be detected by mere computer analysis (though the "quantum chocolate" should really be a tip-off).

  • Dr. Pepper did the same thing in the 19th century.
  • Taken from www.anndeweesallen.com :

    "Known in the industry as the “Alpha Scientist,” Dr. Allen is in the forefront of scientific breakthroughs, including Nanotechnology, NanoMolecules, Quantum Chocolate, Genetic polymorphisms in Dysregulated Arginine Metabolism, Sickle Cell Polymorphisms, Thalassemia, Blind Amino Acid Riders, L-Arginine Isoform Pathways, and Edible Computer Chips."

    Feel free to sue me, bitch, as I have no money nor do I have any property of value. Slashdot is covered under Safe H

  • And then hiring a lawyer and letting the money roll on in.

  • Illegal? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Andy Smith (55346) on Monday September 20, 2010 @11:21AM (#33636340) Homepage

    She says that using her name would be "illegal". That implies criminal. Isn't trademark infringement a civil matter?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by julesh (229690)

      She says that using her name would be "illegal". That implies criminal. Isn't trademark infringement a civil matter?

      According to dictionary.com, the distinction between "illegal" and "criminal" is that something is illegal if it is in violation of any statute, but criminal if it is in violation of a penal statute.

      So, no, "illegal" does not imply "criminal": criminal is a strict subset of illegal.

  • by Dayofswords (1548243) on Monday September 20, 2010 @11:22AM (#33636362)

    This is the last sentence in the C&D letter she sends:

    Your anticipated cooperation is anticipated.

  • Would it be libel to say "Dr. Ann De Wees Allen has been raping and killing children for the last 20 years"?

  • I'm going to register that and typo squat to the site of my choosing.

  • Then, every anonymous lawsuit will infringe on your trademark. That way, you can sue lawyers, who are typically rolling in dough!

  • Billy Joel has, since a very early time in his career, a registered trademark on his name for the purpose of music. I'm pretty sure he's not going around suing parents who have the audacity to name their kids William Joel, however.

    Look at the album cover of "Billy Joel (R) Greatest Hits" for an example.

  • Webwasher flags it as something I should not be looking at.

    I wonder what Dr. Allen is up to...

  • She's not the first person to do this. OJ Simpson trademarked his name in 1995 after the murder trial

He who is content with his lot probably has a lot.

Working...