BIG corporate squishing the small business.
In September of 2005, my wife and I wanted to start an internet business in which we would sell mostly items that would help a pet owner contain their dog on their property. We found two manufacturers that we thought had superb quality items at very reasonable prices. The two brands that we started out with were the PetSafe and Innotek brands.
Starting our internet business, like all businesses on the internet, we needed a domain name. In keeping the idea that a majority of products we sold had to do with containing ones pet with not only underground electronic dog fences, but cages, carriers and kennels, and with the many different remote training collars we would carry, we searched high and low for an available name to suite the products we would be selling.
After many combinations of possible domain names, we came up with our “PetContainAndTrain.com” name. We purchased the domain name and set up our web site.
We spent many months building and organizing our web site with the most reputable brand name dog products on the market. Our business was up and running. Though running very slowly at first, we kept plugging away at it. Spending countless hours optimizing our web site pages so that the major search engines would eventually index our pages in the hopes of getting our web name listed on the first page of the search engines for some of the items we were selling.
Months had now turned into years, and we were finally seeing results. Our small, little known web site, was starting to get listed on page one of a few of the major search engines for certain products.
Then, in December of 2007, we received a letter from an attorney’s office stating that our domain name “PetContainAndTrain.com” is confusingly similar to their client’s registered trademark, “Contain ‘N’ Train”, and that it constitutes trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising, and is in violation of the United States Trademark Act. They then demanded that we immediately terminate any and all use of the domain name “PetContainAndTran.com” and transfer such domain name to Innotek, Inc.
The public could confuse our domain name “Pet Contain and Train” with Innotek’s product, the “Contain ‘N’ Train” dog fence. Because of this, we are being told to give up our rights to our domain name and give the name to Innotek. After years of building up a web site, and finally getting listed on the major search engines front pages, and spending literally thousands of dollars on our name, we are being told to give it up.
We started this business with our name based on the type of products we would be selling. We did not choose our name to mimic one product that Innotek sells. We tried telling this to the attorneys that represent Innotek, and a year had gone by without any response from them. Now, April 2009, we again have received a letter telling us to stop using the name.
We would love to hear from people out in the internet world their thoughts on this. Should the name of our domain be compared to a product. If this is the case, then how can the words “Contain and Train” be used at all. Web sites all over the internet are using these words in all kinds of advertising. Should these people be told to stop using those words also? I can understand that Innotek has trademarked the product name “Contain ‘N’ Train”, but we are not using that name. And our name is not for a specific product.
Does anyone have any ideas? Thoughts? Good or bad?
Please email us and tell us what you think.
Thank you very much.
Pet Contain and Train