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The Internet

Battle over earth.com 86

Charles Bronson writes "A Mass. clothing company who's producing a new line of footware called 'Earth Shoes,' has filed suit against hobbyist Tony Saunders, who owns operates earth.com. Despite the fact that he does not conduct commerce and he has been using earth.com since 1994, some years prior to the existance of Earth Shoes, the company claims that he is infringing upon their trademark. What trademark? Well, in 1984, the company alledgly trademarked 'Earth' and 'Earth Shoe.'"
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Battle over earth.com

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  • If big stupid companies keep up the paste, let's say I register the domain name "www.i_love_vodka.com", will I get sued in 4-5 months because a company claims to own the rights to the expression "i love vodka" ?
  • When? Well my unedjicated guess would be when the trademark office starts saying "No! You can't trademark that!!" and then hit a button under their desk and the people fall down the trap door and are eaten alive by a pack of lions.

    If that doesn't happen, I don't see any end to these patent/trademark issues Slashdot is always posting.
  • No! Earth has gotten away with this blatent abuse of this obvious trademark for far too long already. It's about time those inhabitants paid for what's rightfully this shoe company's trademark.
  • The earth.com guy says Mondial bought the name which some other company registered in '85 after he registered earth.com in '94.

    That's what I got out of it anyway.
  • Then we'll have people just registering numbers. IBM will sue anyone with '123' in their IP. That reminds me, better sign up for some trademarks on all the digits. That'll cover me.
  • Amusingly enough, Apple Records once tried to sue Apple Computer. If I recall correctly, Apple Computer agreed that their computers would never be used as recording devices...that's where the system sound "Sosumi" comes from.
  • Posted by Tony.Sanders:

    You cannot imagine how much better my day is bacause of all the supportive messages I have read. The humor has helped a lot also.
    Here is one in return:
    Doh! They spelled my name wrong!
    It's "Sanders".

    If this forum is still around tomorrow I will post some of the details that people seem to be confused about. As you might expect I tried to spend this weekend *not* thinking about this so I didn't bring home my special copy of "The Complaint" papers this weekend.

    For those wishing to look into this topic more there are several good sites out there.

    www.domain-name.org
    Domain Name Rights Coalition
    www.domains.org
    American Association of Domain Names
    lawoffices.net/tradedom/sempap.htm
    Domain Names and Dilution
    www6.annap.infi.net/~jwaldron/overview.html
    Trademark act of 1946 (amended 1994)

    I will clarify some of the non-technical bits:

    The lawyer for Mondial contacted me late last year. He said his client had a trademark on "Earth" and they wanted the domain. We didn't agree. Earlier this year he called again and threatened legal action, I asked to speak with someone at Mondial, he said ok but they never called.

    Monday Feb 12, 1999 I was served papers (A Summons) filed in Mass. and stamped Nov 1998. It's 6 pages, plus an ugly print out of one of my web pages and a few trademark registration papers (one for Earth Shoe and 2 for Earth, the older of which, I was told by their lawyer, they had recently acquired).

    I will post the lawyers contact info when I verify that it's within my rights to do so (I don't want to get sued again). But since the papers were filed with the court in Mass. you should be able to figure it out with a phone call.
  • Posted by Tony.Sanders:

    Ok, there is the text of the lawsuit.

    www.earth.com/underfire/complaint.txt

    I'm missing the exhibits which are my whois info, a print out of my "about earth.com" web page and the trademark registrations which can be had from http://trademarks.uspto.gov/ -- in other words, stuff that is already online.

    I hope a couple of people will pick it up and mirror it in case my site goes down and I hope
    that people will continue to spread the word about this.

    -- Sanders

    Brilliance is typically the act of an individual, but incredible stupidity can usually be traced to an organization. -- "More Programming Pearls", Jon Bentley
  • I think that first come first serve is the only fair way to deal with domain names. Its just too much of a pain and too costly any other way.
  • by sjames ( 1099 )

    Go to Yahoo, and search on Mondial.

    I found 63 different Mondials in various businesses (including footwear). Methinks they should be careful where they tread (sorry) unless they would like the same treatment.

    In fact, I did mistake one of the links for them (turned out to be a shoe componants company based in Italy). Seems they may be ACTUALLY diluting someone's trademark themselves!

    Unfortunatly, none of those hits appear to be the relevant party so I still don't know where to send the nastygram.

  • by jd ( 1658 )
    Launch a counter-suit, claiming harassment. (The company -knows- you can't trademark common names, so their suit surely counts as harassment.) Might as well throw one in for damaging property, too. (A site name is property, and associating it with those shoes is probably damage.) Chances are, the company is playing chicken with the legal system (who folds last, wins) - so raise the stakes.
  • If I remember correctly, "Earth Shoes" were designed in 1957 by a Scandanavian yoga instructor. They were first sold in the U.S. in 1970 and they reached their peak of popularity in 1974. The company went bankrupt in 1977.

    They were made with low heels and wide toes and were intended to more closely conform to the "natural" requirements of the foot.

    It is so '90s that the '70s are being rehashed for profit by corporations with uptight lawyers.

  • G. O. D.
    Guaranteed overnight delivery.
    You see their trucks on the road all the time. I'm surprised they don't have the domain www.god.com yet...
  • No, this isn't a joke. nasa.com is really owned by the people who own suck.org Here's the whois entry:

    Owner:
    The Epicenter Network


    Address:
    1344 Broadway, Suite 211
    Hewlett, New York 11557
    US


    Last Updated:
    August 18, 1997


    Administrative Contact:
    SUCK-Domain Holdings (HNH2-ORG) operations@SUCK.ORG
    800-697-2437
    Fax- - 800-697-2437


    Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
    SUCK-Auditing (HNA-ORG) audit@SUCK.ORG
    800-697-2437
    Fax- - 800-697-2437


    Billing Contact:
    SUCK-Domain Billing (HNB-ORG) payables@SUCK.ORG
    800-697-2437
    Fax- - 800-697-2437


    Name Servers:
    NS1.SUCK.ORG 205.166.250.23
    NS2.SUCK.ORG 205.166.250.33

  • It looks like they reserved earthshoes.com and earthshoes.net. back in Oct.1998 (but they still haven't set up any names or sites).

  • Of all the plain-sounding names out there, nither time.com nor earth.com talk about Time or the Earth. I think the NIST in Boulder, Colorado ought to get time.com. As for earth.com -- cdrom.com ought to get it.
  • According to Mondial's complaint, the company acquired 1985 trademarks for the terms "Earth" and "Earth Shoe."
    According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office the trademarks EARTH and EARTH SHOE were filed on 20 July 1994 and were not registered until 15 December 1998

    Earth Shoe [uspto.gov]
    Earth [uspto.gov]
    US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE [uspto.gov]

    Don't need a lawyer on this case. Unless of course you want to counter sue for malicious prosecution :-) Ok, so I'm not a lawyer, but this looks like another case of a company trying to bully around the little guy. Will they never learn? Mike
    derGott, God of nothing
  • They were shoes that had the heel slightly lower than the toe. It wasn't a huge difference, and there was supposedly had some health benefit to this arrangement - better posture, more foot comfort or something. I was a kid in the mid-70's when they made a big media splash. I thought they sank without a trace in the 80's, but I guess I was wrong.

    Eric
  • The internic contact for earthshoes.com is Michel Meynard, supposedly michel@mminc.com, except mminc.com doesn't resolve. Reportedly it's the site of Michel Meynard Inc. of Massachusetts.

    A search on Four11 turns up the following addy for a Michel J Meynard in Massachusetts: 102414.567@compuserve.com [mailto], odds are it's him. No telling if it's still a current address though.

    I can't find any direct connection between MM and Mondial, so no telling what this guy's role is. He may just be the web developer, but from the sound of "Michel Meynard Inc." he sounds just like the kind of ego-maniac that thinks he can trademark the word "Earth". That's just my opinion though.

  • If you think about it, any inhabited planet even remotely like this one is probably named something that translates to "dirt".
  • As has been noted, Earth Shoes were in their heyday in the '70s. I've been scanning in old newsletters from WORT (Madison, WI community radio station) as part of an archival project, and there are several Earth Shoes ads in those newsletters. If anyone's interested see this link [wisc.edu] as well as some of the other newsletter links, they're logically named. Beware, the images are kinda big (~400 KB or so) and I'm not done cleaning them up. From the brief news.com article it appears this new company ``acquired the [Earth Shoes] trademark'', which probably means the old Earth Shoes trademark was no longer valid, or the new company bought it. My honey tells me the original Earth Shoes were uncomfortable as hell. They sure were ugly!

    Leigh
  • Oops. Candy bar. Pluto(TM)'s taken too. (Disney character)...Saturn(TM) and Mercury(TM) are out. Damn cars. Jupiter, anyone?

    No matter how you slice it, Nasa is screwed.



  • trademark 'com' 'org' and 'net' and sue every person who holds a domain on the 'net. the insanity must end! mandatory death penalty for idiocy!
  • Come now... If you have the balls to copyright 'Earth' in the early 1980's, it ought to be balanced with the wisdom to spend under $100 to register the domain.

    Time after time, people who have just stumbled onto this whole "internet thing" fail to understand that this medium is more than just another chance for commercial exploitation. This used to be an intellectual medium encourage the sharing of thoughts. Now it simply encourages buying. Reminds me of the Europeans coming over to America and treating it as their own 'undiscovered' property, without regard to the fact that there was already an established civilization there long before-hand.

    Now those of us who were here to enjoy the earlier days of the 'net (and thus to appreciate it) are being shoved out of the way so those who truly deserve to exploit every possible medium (businesses) take over.

    I wonder whatever happened to good, honest business? I'm all for a capitalistic society, but let's try to temper it with good judgement instead of trying to patent and own everything.

    Just out of curiosity, I decided to try and count everything within arm's reach of me that had a logo, trademark, or other stamp of ownership:

    Not counting hardware, I have 47 items with a logo or advertisement. The only item within reach that escapes some type of claim or advertising is a blank piece of paper with a URL written on it.

    Now, I'm off to patent birth as a concept and practice, the alphabet, and clapping.

  • It would be wonderful to see a cross between something like the Electronic Freedom Foundation and Slashdot to combat things like this.

    A group of college students studying law or donated legal expertise from elsewhere, combined with the proving boycotting/petitioning strength of Slashdot'ers could be a beautiful thing.

    I would envision a small group of people elected to review requests for assistance in defending a domain name, and if it appears that an injustice is indeed occuring, then it would be passed on to the legal-team and Slashdot readers to make an organized effort on behalf of the domain owner to retain his purchased name.

    Totally non-profit. Totally non-government. Just a group of people with weight to throw-around to counter the mafia-types who try to lean on the little guy.

  • Q: What do you call 1,000 dead lawyers?

    A: A good start.
  • Well, In "Bread And Circuses" Spock mentions an add for the "Jupiter 8" (an automobile, presumably). So it looks like Jupiter may be out, too. (At least in the Star Trek universe. :-) Oh, Well...)
  • (1) I'm surprised that the Church of Scientology hasn't sued both parties for using words from the title of an old Lafayette Ronald Hubbard book.


    (2) "Earth shoes" sound a little, well, crumbly... and prone to sprouting... and difficult to clean...


    (3) Perhaps we could take this to its logical conclusion and copyright the name "The And But Why Internet Store", then sue everyone who uses "and", "but", "why", "the", "internet" or "store" in their name?

  • This poor guy can't afford an attorney (Such is the case with many situations like this) Would some kind hearted lawyer donate his time to this cause? It would be most appriciated. I don't know the guy, but I DESPISE corperate bullying like this.
  • . . . er, trouble(tm).

    Just for grins, I checked, and every one of the following words is a domain:

    in.com
    the.com
    beginning.com
    god.com
    created.com
    the.com
    heaven.com
    and.com
    the.com
    earth.com.
    and.com
    the.com
    earth.com
    was.com
    without.com
    form.com
    and.com
    void.com . . .
  • Okay, screw this, I'm copyrighting the letters
    'a', 'e', 'i', 'o', 'u', and 'y'. Anyone who
    uses them better pay me royalties, or I'll sue.

    A copyright (C) 1999 Chris Costello
    E copyright (C) 1999 Chris Costello
    I copyright (C) 1999 Chris Costello
    O copyright (C) 1999 Chris Costello
    U copyright (C) 1999 Chris Costello
    Y copyright (C) 1999 Chris Costello

    All rights reserved.

    '...' copyright (C) 1999 Chris Costello, patent pending.

    The name 'Chris' is a trademark of Chris Costello industries.
  • What, you mean like "Apple"?

    You can trademark a common noun, but only in a very specific context. Apple Computer can, for example, sue other computer hardware and software outfits for using "Apple", but would have a hard time attacking apple farmers or Apple Records.

    Sounds to me that these Earth Shoes people have no case, and they're trying to see if the expense of retaining an attorney will be enough to scare this poor guy out of his domain name.
  • I knew I should of became a lawyer. I could make money on these stupid lawsuits.

    -Brook Harty
  • Well it seems stupidity on Internet is reaching its top. Some years ago we had a well known company trying to trademark the name Windows. Also we had another one trying to do the same thing on x86 numbers.
    We have passed this one only to wait for a bunch of green horns, who passed more than 2/3 of their lies away from anything related to computers.
    It is pretty clear that they will get burned on it. Just imagine someone trademarking the word "God" (property of Heaven Industries).

    Unfortunately this thing is happening because some people have turned a federal organ in the US into a small street bazaar. As far as I see nowadays any stupid idea, plagiate, dream/nightmare, schizo seems to be possible to register or trademark while you pay for it. Some of the last issued "certificates" of respectability are already creating some serious damage and may undermine what a patent/trademark is made for. At least personally I can't hang on a patent issued by a organ who "certificates" new perpetuom mobiles and clear plagiates that even violate international copyright laws.
  • Will this nonsense ever end?
    All I see is a company who wanted to register earth.com and found out it was already taken.
    Some companies are just snobs to the highest level.
  • Earth Shoes are sandles. I have a pair sitting
    here next to my Playstation. A Walmart special.
    They are pretty cool, but I would be happy to
    write a letter saying I won't buy a new pair this
    summer if they are going to try to kill the domain of the guy that invented image maps!! (on his web site).
  • He ran the Inet-Access mailing list for years and years until Avi Freedman took it over, I think in mid-1998.

    He was an excellent list administrator - always did a fine job. My ISP FAQ [amazing.com] is/was based on messages on that list.

    D
  • True... I hadn't even looked at it that way. A company can spend thousands of dollars sueing just to bully a person into giving up his/her rights. A person who is limited on the financial side will give up those rights very quick when considdering the costs of a lawsuit.
    I find this thought pretty scary... I thought one of the rules of internic were that once your domain-name was approved it was yours. Aren't domain-names distributed on a first come first serve bases, and wasn't that company virtually unknown at the time that the domain was registered?
    I think that any judge with a bit of common sence would understand that something as general as a noun in the English language, even if it's associated with some famous product, doesn't have to be that trademark. Names that aren't really nouns in a language are very elligable trademarks (eg. Nike, Coca Cola), but trademarking words from an existing language (eg soap, soup, chicken, earth) seems to me like an attempt at stretching the use of trademarking far beyond the original intent.
    We live in a society where money easily outdoes the rights of the individual, even though we are supposed to be protected against such things by the law.
  • I did a quick check of the US PTO database and found several registrations for EARTH including one that *preceeds* Mondial Trading Companie's trademark registration by quite a bit.

    Earth Chemical also has an active trademark registration that preceeds Mondial's by 8 years and date of first use preceeds Mondial's by 39 years! Thus this company below could sue Mondial :-)


    Word Mark
    EARTH
    Owner Name
    (REGISTRANT) EARTH CHEMICAL COMPANY, LTD.
    Owner Address
    3218-12 SAKOSHI AKO, HYOGO-KEN JAPAN CORPORATION JAPAN
    Attorney of Record
    SIMOR L MOSKOWITZ
    Serial Number
    73-083859
    Registration Number
    1069253
    Filing Date
    04/14/1976
    Registration Date
    07/12/1977
    Mark Drawing Code
    (1) TYPED DRAWING
    Register
    PRINCIPAL
    Affidavits
    SECT 8.; SECT 15.; COMBINED SECT 8 AND SECT 15.
    Type of Mark
    TRADEMARK
    Renewals
    1ST RENEWAL 1997.06.17


    International Class
    005
    Goods and Services
    INSECTICIDES AND OTHER VERMIN DESTROYERS; DATE OF FIRST USE: 1931.05.01;
    DATE OF FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 1931.05.01

  • Dear Earth Shoes,

    Thank you for showing me how fucking retarded your company is. I will be sure to buy my next pair of shoes from your competitors.
  • What about the obvious examples?
    Apple, Macintosh (a type of apple), Newton, Windows, Word, Excel, Access, and even Trash Can (owned by Apple.)

    Jeez, I wouldn't be surprised if somebody has "Trademark" trademarked.


    fine print:
    All trademarks illegally used, and meant to cause harm to their holders. Go ahead and TRY to sue me.
  • It's a load of crap. This is the sort of capitilistic garbage we have come up with in America? Screw that cheeseball shoe maker. May Nike crush them.
  • I've had enough of people confusing trademark and copyright and other forms of intellectual property when posting on Slashdot.

    The resources are out there to learn the difference. It would make your arguments more persuasive if you would at least argue about the right legal rules governing the issues at hand.

    In particular, see:

    Findlaw's Trademark Page [findlaw.com]

    Nolo Press's Trademark Page [nolo.com]

    Fortunately, there are many attorneys who know a lot about the subject who feel as pissed about trademark abuse and are actually doing something about it. Lets all hope they are successful -- the Slashdot community should help where possible!

  • I wore Roots, which were essentially the same design. Great shoes, well made, long lasting, and comfortable as hell.

    Your honey may not have worn them enough to stretch her calves. When I alternated between roots and boots, my legs never ached. .....maybe I will try to find some now!
  • I like it when people leave links. (really) I don't always have time to go to these pages and read though....

    There's no real point to this post, I am really just testing out my new /. ID.

  • SUN anyone? :)
    Last time I checked they owned www.sun.com

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