Social Media and Law Firms

In today’s episode, we brought back last week’s guest attorney Eric Fingerhut to continue our topic of social media and, specifically, and what it means to the marketing strategies of law firms. For ages many rainmakers have built their client lists on their ability to “work the room”. Social media has changed the game… or has it?! Listen as Fingerhut, Montan & Holmes give their opinions. You can’t miss this one!

EXCLUSIVE: Holmes and the case of the naughty web host

On Friday August 28th, 2009 a jury in the Northern District of California found ISP/web hosts Akanoc Solutions, Inc., Managed Solutions Group, Inc. and Steven Chen liable for contributory trademark counterfeiting and awarded Plaintiff Louis Vuitton Malletier $32 Million.

This story is not only the first you will likely read on this case, but its author was the primary investigator and a witness for the Plaintiff.

Welcome to Akanoc SolutionsI first observed this group a few years ago doing business as Managed Solutions Group (MSG) when they were popping up as a US-based web host for China-based sellers of counterfeit goods.

A couple of my luxury brand clients asked me to look into this entity and I did.  I asked a colleague who is a higher-up at a major anti-spamming organization if he had ever heard of them.  His immediate response was, “Yeah.  They are spammers.”  He later clarified stating that they had positioned themselves as bulletproof hosts for spammers for some time.  He told me they had straightened their act in that industry after the CAN-SPAM Act was passed and made it a criminal act to facilitate such activity.

Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. Akanoc Solutions, Inc. et al was a bold case and a years-long battle fueled by the passion of Vuitton’s in-house legal wizard Nikolay Livadkin and outside counsel Andy Coombs and Annie Wang of J. Andrew Coombs a P.C. A brilliant case was laid out that illustrated Akanoc, MSG & Chen’s non-compliance despite diligent efforts by Vuitton.

Laughably, Akanoc admitted that they complied with the requests of big companies like eBay and Microsoft but not with smaller companies such as my client.  I don’t know which part of that statement is more moronic: The Defendant sneezing at a 100 year-old company that made $24 Billion last year (triple eBay but less than Microsoft); or that they looked a federal judge in the eye and sneezed at the rights of all companies they did not perceive to be ‘big’.

The verdict is below and many interesting stories will arise.  There are many things to learn from this.  A few of which are:

  • Web hosts must not ignore the violation of anyone’s rights on their watch.
  • Don’t mess with Louis Vuitton.
  • Evidence produced by my office is far better than our competition and can help you win cases like this one.

For more information please contact me by phone at (972) 422-2100 or by email at rob@ipcybercrime.com.

Now, I’m going to finish my coffee.

Twitter files word ‘Tweet’ with USPTO, plans to enforce

Twitter announced on their blog yesterday that they recently filed the application to trademark the word “Tweet” (USPTO #77715815) in IC’s 038, 041 & 045.  Twitter is the name of a company and an online social network.  The term ‘tweet’ has become an accepted noun meaning ‘a message transmitted via Twitter’ and verb meaning to transmit such a message.  Prior to Twitter’s application a number of companies had already filed variations of this socially-accepted slang term.  Some of those marks are: Tweetdeck, Tweetmarks, Tweetphoto, Tweetup, CoTweet, Tweetworking & Tweet.Me.  All of the above were filed in 2009.

In cases like Kleenex, Xerox and Google, there is precedent of the use of a trademark as a generic term and clear rules of how those words can be used.  Is this the first time that a completely different word that refers to a service has been applied as a trademark?  Is this enforceable?  Inquiring minds want to know.  I want to know.  Lawyers, I would love your feedback.

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