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Trademark Myth #7: I should get free advice on the internet

This one is kind of a no-brainer. Free advice is generally worth what you pay for it. Surprisingly, a cease and desist letter I recently drafted became the subject of not one, but two YouTube videos. In the first one, which has been viewed more than 75,000 times, (!!!) the recipients stress about being “sued” for “copyright” and apologize for causing harm to my client. In the second one, “Camo Dave” ridicules the couple for trying to get legal advice via YouTube comments.

Purpose of Video?

I question whether this couple is legitimately confused and just extremely naive by relying on free advice from the internet. A more cynical view suggests that making a video about being sued equals an attempt to get a lot of clicks. The video indicates this couple may not have entirely comprehended the letter. Rather, it seems they freaked out at getting a communication from a lawyer. A cease and desist letter generally puts a party on notice of another’s rights in their intellectual property. It offers an opportunity to resolve the matter prior to initiating formal proceedings.

Incorrect Advice. . .

Scrolling through the free advice from their followers (more than 1750 comments!) shows just how confused people are. Commenters (and the recipients themselves) confuse copyright vs trademark, common law rights vs registration, confusing similarity, infringement, and so much more. Some people suggest that a generic word like “a” or “the” distinguishes two marks (it doesn’t). Others have suggested abbreviating the full mark to remove vowels (won’t work, phonetically identical). Another suggested that

You cannot Trademark a disparaging word.
“Nomad” is akin to the word vagrant..
Case dismissed!

Well, that may have been the case at one time, but not after the recent FUCT Supreme Court decision. (Besides, “nomad” is not a vulgar term). Perhaps the best advice they got was from “Sol the Sunchaser,” who commented:

As many others have said, you need to contact a lawyer ASAP. . . Honestly though it is going to boil down to who used / registered the name or trademark first. If they used it before you folks, you don’t really have a legal leg to stand on and will have to settle or change.

Help Needed

I hope the ad revenue from all the clicks they are getting on the video helps them afford a lawyer who can set them straight!

*Update as of 8/13/19: Apparently, a lawyer who lives in a van offered to assist the couple and of course they made another video about that. . . summarized here by Camo Dave


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