So I have this name I found, ChocoLabs, which is catchy and quite close to the values I want to defend in my company (pleasure, innovation, software craftsmanship). I checked if a French company existed by that name, found none, bought the domain name and filed a trademark at INPI (the French trademark organization). Then after a few weeks, a guy calls me and says I'm infringing his own trademark, so I must remove my trademark application or he'll sue me big time and he's sure he will win.
The person in question owns a slightly different trademark: his company is called ChocolApps. Apparently, they make applications for mobile devices. They also pay a lawyer to watch the new INPI trademark applications to check if someone threatens their own trademark. My trademark application was recently published, and he considers that the names and activities are close enough that he can sue me and win.
I'm surprised. The guy never tells me that my company may harm his business. He doesn't talk about his business - just about his trademark, his associates, and his lawyer. And he talks in a very aggressive way. He never actually inquires about my business. And when I suggest a compromise with a clear separation of domains (since I never intended to develop mobile applications in the first place), he bluntly refuses.
I'm also embarrassed. I should have seen before choosing the name ChocoLabs that something close already existed in France with a similar activity. As a matter of fact, I should have paid a lawyer to do this kind of research for me, but I prefer to spend money hiring great technical people than paying lawyers to sue other people.
I don't want to harm other people's business. I just want to make a living for me and my employees by doing what we like. Is the name important? Not yet. Only the readers of this blog and a few dozen people I've been talking with associate the name ChocoLabs with my project. Can the guy win if he sues me? Maybe, or maybe not. Do I want to spend time and money to defend this name? No I don't, I have better things to do.
So I give up, without any bitterness. Forget about ChocoLabs (too remindful of Chocolate Labrador anyway), as well as ChocolAbs (Chocolate Abs), choc-o-labs, ChocoLapse, ChocoTabs, ChocoCats, and ChocoMaps. I don't mind - I have the CompanyNameGenerator, remember? And it gave me a much better name for my company: TheFacebook.
By the way, the chocolabs.com domain name is for sell. Contact me if you think you can do something with it - you just can't use it in France with INPI activity code 42, or this guy will call you and sue you big time.
Published on 10 Dec 2012
with tags not technical