Did you know that a large, one-time use company will go to great lengths to protect their name? Yes, this is happening to me. I recently filed an application to trademark the name “Pampered Bunz.” Yesterday, I got a copy of a letter (from my lawyer) from an extremely large company who owns a well-known name of one-time use diapers. Look at my name for a moment, and it’ll come to you. (I’m not mentioning the name because of the possibilities for accusations of slander, among other things.)
Yes, I received a letter. Automatically this company expected me to sign all my rights away. They couldn’t have done this before I “branded” my items well over a year ago? Yet, I’ve been advised by my trademark lawyer (who really is a nice man, even though I wasn’t so sure yesterday) that it would cost in the hundreds-of-thousands of dollars range to fight the company. Even though he does feel that eventually we would win, I’ve decided that it isn’t worth the fight. I’d prefer to cut my losses (at this point mostly time) and work on re-branding my products.
This may all actually be happening at a really good time. I’ve recently ventured into several other avenues of crafting: sewing my children’s clothing and creating cold-process soaps. This could really be my way of renaming my business to encompass the different things I’ve started to offer.
Here’s the letter, for those of you who are curious and want to read it. I was appalled that a large company would “bully” a smaller company and that there aren’t more ways for a small company to fight it in the land of “free enterprise,” but alas, there doesn’t seem to be resources readily available. The parts marked with “*” are personal contact information for the P&G lawyer. She’s just doing her job, however much I may not like it.
“April 25, 2008
Dear *** (lawyer’s name):
I represent The Procter & Gamble Company (“P&G”) in intellectual property matters. This letter is in regard to your client’s, Diane Kovach, use of the mark PAMPERED BUNZ on product and the website www.pamperedbunz.com and the filing of the United States trademark application Serial No. 77/732,465 for such mark in connection with cloth diapers.
As you may be aware, P&G is the owner of globally famous PAMPERS trademark used in conjunction with various baby related products, including diapers and wipes. In fact, P&G is the owner of 40 United States trademark applications and registrations, which incorporate P&G’s famous PAMPERS trademark. I am sure you can appreciate P&G’s need to protect the trademark goodwill associated with this trademark. [redundant much?] We are concerned that your client’s use and registration of the mark PAMPERED BUNZ may infringe P&G’s established intellectual property rights in its famous PAMPERS trademark.
To resolve this matter, please confirm that your client will:
1) expressly abandon United States Trademark Application Serial No. 77/432,465; and
2) agree not to use the trademark PAMPERED, PAMPERS or any derivative thereof on any baby related product, including, but not limited to diapers and wipes, or in any other manner likely to create confusion with P&G’s famous PAMPERS trademark.
I look forward to working with you and your client to resolve this matter and to receiving your assurances to the above. To confirm your client’s assurances to the above commitments,[again, redundant much?] please have your client sign a copy of this letter below (copy enclosed) and return the executed copy to me. Please respond to this letter no later than May 15, 2008.
They go on to assume that I will automatically sign their letter stating that I’ll stop using my name and roll over and play dead, without any questions (which I’ve already not done, thanks to a cool lawyer of my own). This seems to be bullying at its very finest, doesn’t it to you? I’ve worked really hard to create a name for myself (as others have)….to provide for my family.
Maybe they’re “worried” that I’ll compete? HA! I’m sure a company, who’s mission it is to remain a work-at-home company, will really pose a threat. But you know what? In a way I’m not worried. I will change my name, but they’ve shown their arrogance. They’ve shown that THEY are afraid that cloth diapers are making such a comeback, that if they don’t take a stand against every little thing that stands in their way, they’ll lose…oh, maybe two or three thousand dollars in business? Laughable, really.
Diane Kovach has been sewing cloth diapers (and other goodies) for over 2 years and is the owner of the current Pampered Bunz.