We are no longer known as Romance Books 'R' Us. We are now Romance Books '4' Us.
The Toys "R" Us "trademark police" threatened legal action if we didn't change our name...namely, Geoffrey LLC (which is an intellectual property company owned by Toys "R" Us, Inc. and holds all the trademarks associated with all the "R" Us companies you're familiar with) and their NY attorneys/watchdogs who THINK our romance BOOKS group could be confused as to being a company associated with the many "R" Us brands.
The letter sent to me called Romance Books 'R' Us a "book business". Maybe I should be flattered that they even consider us a threat...but since we don't SELL books, I can't see the logic.
Now, I'll admit that I should have considered this more carefully when filing for a trademark for Romance Books 'R' Us. But since I saw other R Us groups on the trademark list (like Lights R Us, Studs R Us, etc.), I didn't figure on any trouble.
We don't SELL books. We talk about romance books and the industry. How could we possibly be confused with being associated or sponsored by the Toys "R" Us companies that sell breast pumps, teddy bears, and kids' underwear?
As organizer of a small group that TALKS about romance books/writing industry, I can't afford attorneys/court fight over this. There is no choice but to rename our blog, yahoo group, website, Twitter account, and Facebook page. Unfortunately, my having to abandon the trademark application meant losing the money that was already paid for filing.
Let's face it...the letter R they use is backwards. I assume they can use it upside down, horizontally, whatever, and they "own" any configuration of the letter R with the commonly used word, Us. Interesting that one big business can wield so much power...and spend lots of money...to OWN R Us. In fact, they even tie up using the combination of ARE US.
1. Geoffrey LLC as a, Toys "R" Us company, "owns" the R Us trademark...any letter R position they choose/the word ARE in combination with the word US.
2. As a big business, they can afford many trademarks to tie up these combinations AND hire watchdog attorneys to find scoundrels who DARE to trespass using THEIR words.
3. The attorney who signed the letter I received never returned a phone call. Maybe too embarrassed to speak to me? Perhaps "little people" like me don't warrant a courtesy return call?
(Shakespeare: Henry VI, Act IV, Scene II: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." I've always loved reading Shakespeare, and, I'll note, this doesn't apply to all lawyers.)
4. Small businesses/little people like us have no chance of standing up against big name conglomerates who hire big law firms. So, we get stomped. I now lose the money it cost to file a trademark application for Romance Books 'R' Us. Big businesses can afford to lose money that probably seems like a pittance to them, but I can't...and I'm not a book business.
5. Romance Books 'R' Us was also accused of possibly "diluting" the "distinctive quality" of the "R" Us brands. Really?
http://www.thefreedictionary.com gives this definition of dilute:
-To lessen the force, strength, purity, or brilliance of, especially by admixture.
-To decrease the value of (shares of stock) by increasing the total number of shares.
lessen the force, strength, purity, or brilliance, decrease the value of stock shares, impact the "distinctive quality" of companies represented by Geoffrey LLC? How in the world could Romance Books 'R' Us do that?
6. Those threatening us with legal action must think that consumers aren't smart enough to distinguish between the Toys "R" Us companies and our group.
I doubt ANYONE in their right mind would consider singing "I wanna be a Romance Books 'R' Us kid". Or, come to our yahoo group, blog, or website and assume we were affiliated with/sponsored by any "R" Us company and expect to find us selling breast pumps, teddy bears, or kids' underwear. How sad that big companies don't give consumers more credit for possessing common sense.
7. I have shopped at all the "R" Us stores in the past. That ends now. I'll take my business elsewhere. In addition to Walmart and Target, here are some alternatives I'll use:
8. While I have no problem with companies trademarking their business name, it shouldn't include the ability to "own" a letter of the alphabet in combination with a commonly used word. That's a fault of how the trademark filing system works. Then again, money exchanged for "owning" R Us brings in big bucks to the Trademark system, so why would they change it?
9. If you considered trademarking Poetry R Us, think twice. For over two years, we were known as Romance Books 'R' Us...but nothing was said until I filed for a trademark.
10. If you're thinking of trademarking Potted Plants R Us, Drain Cleaners R Us, or Toilets R Us, you'll be sniffed out by Geoffrey LLC's "R" Us watchdogs. After all, consumers might think you're selling breast pumps, teddy bears, or kids' underwear.
Be warned. Big NY attorney hired "trademark police" are out there waiting for you.
IF you'd like to voice your opinion to Toys "R" Us, here are some ways to contact the company:
CEO Gerald Storch
One Geoffrey Way
Wayne, NJ 07470
If you voice your opinion about this:
Please assure Toys "R" Us that you were in no way misled to believe that Romance Books 'R' Us claimed any association/affiliation to any of their stores or products...and that they lost no sales by our TALKING about romance books at our yahoo group, blog, Facebook Page, Twitter page, or website.
The name Marianne is trademarked as a clothing brand. So, does that mean I need to worry about "trademark police" tracking me down for using my first name? Is YOUR name trademarked? Sandy, Adele, Cara, Desiree are. And, Teacher and Nurse are Trademarked. If you want to search your name, go to http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=tess&state=4001:1j9pes.9.1 and click on Basis Search. On the next page type in your name in Search Term, hit live, and submit.
IF you'd like to voice your opinion to The US Patent and Trademark Office about their system allowing one group to "own" a letter of the alphabet combined with a commonly used word OR that a name can be trademarked, use this email: TMFeedback@uspto.gov