Online directories listing our trademarked brand name without permission

I work for a manufacturing company which uses a multi-level marketing business model. About 50% of our business is roofing materials, which are sold through contractors. The contractors are our “distributors” - (we call them Independent Business Owners, or IBOs) - and they are free to advertise their roofing and construction businesses as they see fit.

They can use the term “Conklin Roofing Systems” in their ads as long as it’s clear they’re users of the products and not owners of Conklin Company. So they might say - “Acme Roofing, certified installers of Conklin Roofing Systems,” or something similar. This is all well and good and to the best of my knowledge most of the IBOs conform to this policy.

:nono:The problem we’ve come across recently is there are online directories out there using the names and addresses of some of our IBOs with the term “Conklin Roofing Systems” leading the listing. I’ve talked to several IBOs about this and they all claim they know nothing about it - they didn’t put their companies on the directory and had no idea they even had a listing. Yes, I know, they might be lying, but I don’t think so. These people have a longstanding relationship with the company and I doubt they would deliberately do anything to jeopardize it. Besides, some of the directories I’ve seen are clearly trash - crude interface, huge numbers of AdSense ads, wrong information, etc.

So obviously I have to try to contact all these dubious characters running these directories and get them to take our IBOs’ listings off. I don’t want to ask the IBOs to spend their time doing it; they didn’t ask for the listings in the first place and some of them are not that comfortable using the Web. Anybody got any thoughts on a good way to go about this? Anybody know of any organization, governmental or other, that I can report the directories to?

We are somewhat concerned that the directory might damage the brand, but what I’m doing is more routine. A company with trademarked names and brands is required to “police” the trademark to see that it is not appropriated by someone else or misused. If you don’t police your trademarks and someone else decides to use them you can lose a court case if you try to sue.

I don’t think it would come to that. I’m just doing the routine policing, as I said. We may in fact just email them, I’m not the one who decides what action to take.

Thank you! I will start the ball rolling on that.

Have you considered sending the directory websites a simple email request, before sending them something as strong as a cease and desist?

For the benefit of my own knowledge, I’d be interested to hear why it is so important for you to have those directory listings removed? Are you concerned that they have the potential to damage your brand?

Thanks for explaining that, Jenny.

It isn’t the ISP that needs the cease and desist, it’s the web host. You can find web hosts by doing a search through Who Is or Domain Tools.

You should prepare a cease-and-desist letter and send it to both the site and the site’s ISP. Even if the site ignores the letter, most legitimate ISP’s will not.