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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

SEO Trademark Dispute Gets Ugly

The ongoing saga of the attempt to trademark the term "SEO" has taken an interesting turn, as the applicant Jason Gambert sent two emails today to ArteWorks SEO CEO Matt Foster. In the first email, Gambert implies that he will be filing suit against ArteWorks SEO. In the subsequent email, which is more of a rambling manifesto than a coherent communication, Gambert implies that he has the support of a number of industry leaders, including Danny Sullivan and Doug Heil (both of whom he mentioned by name), and that ArteWorks SEO and others opposing the application for trademark such as SEOMoz are only adding "another scar to the face of the entire industry." I believe Mr. Heil has already made his position on the SEO trademark issue quite clear when he stated on Gambert's blog "I do not approve of the way you have went about this. Trademarking a term in this way and for that term is totally and utterly ridiculous and has not given you any high marks within the community you want standards in." I would love to hear Mr. Sullivan's position on the matter as well.

Ever since ArteWorks SEO made public its intent to fight the ludicrous attempt to trademark the term "SEO" by applicant Jason Gambert the threats have been rolling in. To date, four communications have been received, two anonymous ones, and two from Jason Gambert himself. Before we go into a discussion of the specificity of the communications, some of which are clearly threats, let it be known loud and clear so that everyone understands, including applicant Jason Gambert, that threats and intimidation will not deter ArteWorks SEO from proceeding forward. In fact, such behavior will actually lead to the exact opposite result than is desired by those making such threats, in that it only solidifies and strengthens our resolve in this matter, only making it more clear that we are doing the right thing by opposing this trademark application.

The threats began last Friday in the form of two anonymous comment posts to this blog. One such post threatened that I would be "punched in the face", another, subsequent post, threatened that ArteWorks SEO would be slapped with a $25 million dollar lawsuit. Of course, we have no way of knowing who made these comments (which were not approved for publication on our blog), but we have our suspicions.

Then, today, I received an email from Gambert himself. In it he issues what I consider and what was clearly intended to be a threat. The subject line of the email read "FYI/Defamation", implying some sort of a threat of litigation. It says, in part, "Please advise your attorneys that I have...notated your use of the term Nobody [sic] in regards to me. I also notated your website changes..."

What website changes? Do you mean our blog posts? Thank you for noting them. While you are at it, do you mind noting them on Digg and StumbleUpon, among others? We would be appreciative. Every Digg counts.

And Mr. Gambert, obviously the use of the word "nobody" is nothing more than hyperbole opinion. It is self evident that is not a statement of fact. Unless a phantom filed the trademark application, that is, in which case you don't exist and therefore wouldn't care what was said about anything. Either way, you are fine. So calm down.

It's very interesting. Stunning, actually, that there would be a reaction such as this. Almost as stunning as the fact that "SEO" is alleged to stand for "systems efficient optimization", yet pleas are being made to the SEO community (by which I mean search engine optimization community) to support the application. If it doesn't stand for search engine optimization, why address the search engine optimization community? Why make statements that the purpose is to create a set of search engine optimization standards?

I digress.

In this country we have free speech. I am free, you are free, Jason Gambert is free, to make statements of opinion and hyperbole regarding any topic whatsoever, but especially regarding topics or persons in the public eye. By attempting to trademark the term SEO, Gambert has definitely gotten himself in the public eye. Also in this country we have courts and legal systems in place for the handling of disputes such as trademark applications and the like. And this is exactly where this dispute will take place - in the courts - and not through threats, coercion, or intimidation.

Mr. Gambert, I do not know you personally. Although I feel as if I know much about your character, based on a number of your public actions. Examples include what, in my opinion (and since you are threatening defamation action, let me make it real clear that this is my opinion only, as are the entire contents of the ArteWorks SEO weblog), is best characterized as an extreme bad faith effort to trademark the term SEO and leverage it for your benefit, as well as through your attempts to threaten or manipulate me or anyone else out of using the legal system to protect our rights. Additionally, it is my opinion that you have committed perjury by submitting a trademark application claiming that you have proprietary ownership in the term "SEO", and further it is my opinion that you have committed perjury by claiming that "SEO" stands for "systems efficient optimization" when I believe you know good and well what SEO stands for and that your intentions involve the use of that term in its commonly accepted meaning. This is further validated in my mind by the fact that you have addressed the SEO community regarding this and your intentions to create a set of industry standards, which to the best of my knowledge was conveniently omitted in your trademark application.

Just my opinion.

Later in the evening, I received a second email from Gambert, in which he appears (again, in my opinion) to make clear that indeed his intentions are to utilize the term "SEO" to refer to search engine optimization. This is the manifesto to which I made earlier reference, and in my opinion appears quite narcissistic. The SEO Trademarker Manifesto email in relevant part is as follows (grammar and spelling errors in original).

The "SEO Trademarker Manifesto":

Matt,

Just showing you that I am “Sharp” “Intelligent” “Courageous” and “Fearless!”

Unlike the rest of the “Haters,” “Cons,” “Used Car Salesman” and “Snake Oil Dealers, I have honor.”

It’s just a perfect example of people automatically hating what they fear most…(FEAR ITS SELF)

It would be nice if people would talk to me before automatically assuming things out of their own fears.

I have no problem with you, I don’t know why you have such a big problem with me…

I have not done anything to you, I have not personally attacked you or your business!

You are attacking me, my business, my reputation, my credibility etc. for what?

If you think I am going to send you a Cease and Desist letter, you error tremendously…

Please drop the hatchet already, if all of us are constantly fighting we will never get anywhere.

Believe me it won’t be “FUN” to war with one another, it will be ugly, and just add another scar to the face of the entire industry.

Who needs all that stress, not you, not me, not the industry, and not are pockets especially.

Let’s all come together and do something awesome to clean up all of our reputations as executives!

We are only going to have one shot at this, and so far the PRO’s do outweigh the cons….

Everyone has said, “CANT,” “CANT,” “CANT,” and all I have done is show everyone how seriously I can. I now wish to show

Everyone “WE” can! Every lawyer said it was impossible, it is not believe me when I say this…

When you can’t get one lawyer, NOT EVEN ONE to believe in you, you end up representing yourself.

I think I have done a pretty darn good job, figuring I did what every lawyer said was impossible…

So far “DOUG HEIL,” is the only one with enough courage to step up to the plate.

I have been in contact with “Danny Sullivan” as well!

Oh yes, I almost forgot, and a few well known companies too… ; )

Sincerely,

Jason

Still looking for the rest of the SEO Rock Stars!


At this point, I am tired of writing about this, it is late, and I will let Gambert's words speak for themselves. Draw your own conclusion about whether or not he intends the "SEO" trademark to apply to search engine optimization.

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2 Comments:

At 4/24/2008 11:47:00 PM , Anonymous Devin T. said...

You're kidding me right?

Trademarking "SEO"? If I am not mistaken, he was not the first one to make a document using those letters. In fact, I bet he was not the first to use the acronym, "SEO" in a business title.

This seems absurd and unintelligent. Sounds like he is stubborn, egotistical, and a sore loser. If he wins this case, it won't matter anyway. The term SEO will not change it's common meaning because some frizzle fry gets off on coining phrases.

Thanks for the update, though. Very interesting.


-Devin T.

 
At 4/30/2008 06:24:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this entire situation is a total joke. Who does this guy think he is coming out of no where and trying this. I've been in the SEO industry for a VERY long time, and am surprised to see this.

On that note, I think I am going to trademark the term "CEO" and sue any business leaders who use it as their title. Maybe I'll charge a $500 annual fee for anyone who wants to use it.

Also, has anyone seen his website? What a joke - Sorry, but someone who knows anything about SEO could have done better.

 

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