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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard lorenw's Avatar
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    Someone is profiting off of my product name.

    Hi all, hoping someone has some advice for me.

    Lets call my software product ABC. I am ranked high in the engines for my search terms. I recently let an associate go from my company for unscrupulous behavior. He launched a series of websites under five different business names. Each one has ABC in the title. The problem is that people find ABC and then Google for ABC.

    His sites appear on the first page of results and on his pages he states he dumped ABC and has developed XYZ the next generation.

    The problem is that people believe what he has on his website, he does have an older version of the ABC software but it is lacking many of the features of the current ABC. People buy his product only to find out that it is lacking the features of ABC and then his customers contact us and I have to explain to them that XYZ is not the next generation. He does anything he can to fight refunds. At that point he knows that they are back looking at ABC.

    His next step is to send out several obscenity laced emails to them, telling them that ABC is under FBI investigation and all sorts of nonsense. Even though the customers come back to ABC, they have a bad taste in their mouths and usually out some money. Yes, he really is doing that, he has no morals.

    Here is where I need the advice, I want to put some kind of disclaimer on my site, something to the effect of. "If some one claims to be the next generation of ABC, turn around and leave the site immediately, save your self some grief".

    I want it to be professional and not scare people away. Any ideas or suggestion as to how to deal with this situation is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.
    What I lack in acuracy I make up for in misteaks

  2. #2
    From Italy with love silver trophybronze trophy
    guido2004's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lorenw View Post
    he does have an older version of the ABC software but it is lacking many of the features of the current ABC.
    Does he have the right to sell that older version, or a "next generation" product based on that older version?
    His next step is to send out several obscenity laced emails to them, telling them that ABC is under FBI investigation and all sorts of nonsense.
    Again, is he allowed to do that?

    If the answer to one or both of those questions is "no", and his actions are costing your company money, maybe you should talk to a lawyer?

  3. #3
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    I would certainly look closely at the questions raised above.

    1) Does the previous employee have the right to sell the old version?

    2) Is ABC under investigation? If not, that could be considered libel and you should definitely take legal action, if only to send a nasty letter to him.

    But here's the bottom line:

    A disgruntled ex-employee can be a nightmare and since they've already picked a fight with you then things will probably just escalate if you engage it too much. That may not be good for you, unless you simply need to take strong legal action.

    This might be a good opportunity to do nothing and wait this situation out. After all, you said that customers were going to your ex-employee but later coming back to you after learning that the other product is older, then being harassed by the ex-employee. In the end, you still get the customer

    And, that situation doesn't seem sustainable. How long will the ex-employee be able to keep this up? They probably aren't making much, and won't be able to compete with you, right? So will it be weeks? months? certainly not years, right? That kind of employee is a 'type' and they always move on to the next 'big fight' before long.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard lorenw's Avatar
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    I spoke with an attorney and he was sent cease and desist papers but they were returned, unopened. Honestly he doesn't care or abide by the legal system, "after all what are they going to really do". (He is very anti government and believes that paying taxes is illegal.)

    My attorney said that to take this all the way through the legal system would be very costly for me and in the end who really enforces the judgement.
    The attorney has copies of what he posted online on his website and e-mails, he said it was a closed case about slander but it would cost me an arm and a leg.

    I need to find some other alternative.

    Thanks for the reply.
    What I lack in acuracy I make up for in misteaks

  5. #5
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lorenw View Post
    I spoke with an attorney and he was sent cease and desist papers but they were returned, unopened. Honestly he doesn't care or abide by the legal system, "after all what are they going to really do". (He is very anti government and believes that paying taxes is illegal.)

    My attorney said that to take this all the way through the legal system would be very costly for me and in the end who really enforces the judgement.
    The attorney has copies of what he posted online on his website and e-mails, he said it was a closed case about slander but it would cost me an arm and a leg.

    I need to find some other alternative.

    Thanks for the reply.
    Well, maybe you can clarify:

    - have you incurred any documented, material damages?
    - what is your objective with regards to this situation?
    - does the other party have any assets?
    - what state do you live in? some states allow libel in small claims
    - what is the approximate value of your product and sales volume?
    - how many copes of the product, to your knowledge, have been sold by the other parts?
    - DO THEY LEGALLY own what they are selling?
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard lorenw's Avatar
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    - have you incurred any documented, material damages? No
    - what is your objective with regards to this situation? Prevent customers from that hassle.
    - does the other party have any assets? No
    - what state do you live in? some states allow libel in small claims. I'm in Florida, he is in Oregon
    - what is the approximate value of your product and sales volume?
    - how many copes of the product, to your knowledge, have been sold by the other parts? Unknown
    - DO THEY LEGALLY own what they are selling? No

    I could successfully sue him but he has nothing.

    Perhaps I need to enforce the thought, there is only one one ABC, accept no imitations.
    What I lack in acuracy I make up for in misteaks

  7. #7
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Without having much detail, my strong feeling is that you reach out to customers and try to counter any misinformation about ABC, then just wait this situation out.

    Without damages you have no real reason to pursue him legally. The fastest way to shut up a noisemaker is to ignore them. How long as this been going on?
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard TheRedDevil's Avatar
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    You mention that the party does not own the content/product they are selling.

    Who owns it? If your company completely own it, then you can send a DMCA to his host to have them take his website down. You can easily do this yourself, or have your lawyer do it.

    In addition if the case above is true, or if you own the trademark for ABC you can possibly contact Google (and other search engines) and get them to remove his website from the search results.

    Other than this, since there has been no damages your only viable shot is as Sagewing mentioned to try and ignore this.


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