Concerns about our trademark have been addressed a multitude of times, yet persons who offer incorrect information continue to cause confusion. This post is to make it as clear as possible. The main points of interest are:
1. Genericness: We DO federally own Thread Bears®. In offering the types of products we make, only we are allowed to use these words together. Some people have claimed that this term can be used if it is in a different font type, or if it is all caps/lowercase, or if it is singular. That is not the case. Only WE are allowed to use the term–whether it appears as: THREAD BEAR, THREAD BEAR, THREAD BEARS, THREAD BEARS, thread bear, thread bear, Thread Bear, Thread Bear, Thread bear, Thread bear, Thread bears, Thread bears, Thread Bears, Thread Bears, ThReAd BeArs, ThReAd BeArS, ThReAd BeAr, ThReAd BeAr, etc. This also stands for any font size, color–and if it is underlined or italicized. If you are using this phrase to describe an item similar to ours, please check any of the above forms of typing it. If you are in fact using any of these variations of the phrase, you are in violation. If you would like to verify this Trademark Law yourself, you may do so here: http://www.bitlaw.com/source/37cfr/2_52.html
A competitor had attempted to have our registered trademark revoked on the claims of it being a generic term. They had submitted letters of protest by many bear artists after encouraging abuse of the phrase. In doing this, they had convinced a Trademark Administrator that the term was generic. You may see the Administrators opinion here: http://tdr.uspto.gov/jsp/DocumentViewPage.jsp?78553324/ADR20060124090213/Administrative%20Response/127/24-Jan-2006/sn/false#p=1
This Administrator made her opinion based on only the information the competitor submitted, which was not an unbiased, impartial assumption. HOWEVER, it is not the job of an Administrator at the Trademark office to make the final decision on a trademark case. It is the duty of the judge(s)/Board to determine if a term is generic or not. Basically, just because a lawyer/Administrator says that something is true, doesn’t make it so. It is only true if the judge(s)/Board say it is. After the Administrator posted her above opinion, the Board then submitted the final decision on the cancellation of our trademark. They denied the trademark cancellation and awarded us our trademark–clearly addressing the fact that the Administrator came to a conclusion from her own opinion, and that this is not proof of genericness. You may see the final decision here (the Board addressing the Administrator’s opinion is on pg. 7): http://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/v?pno=92046025&pty=CAN&eno=25
2. Disclaimers: Legally, in any trademark application, the person who seeks registration has to file a disclaimer. This disclaimer guarantees that, if ownership of the term is acquired, they will not consider people who are only using individual parts of the phrase in violation of Trademark Law. These parts are usually unregistrable. For example, in the application for Thread Bears®, we had to disclaim the term “bears.” “Bears” is an item that cannot be registered, since it is a generic word. So, if someone is just using the word “bears,” or “bear” for that matter, we cannot claim that they are in violation of our trademark. It would be a violation if it was any form of phrase in its entirety.
We are currently in litigation to acquire another trademark. A so-called “informant” of Trademark Law has taken it upon herself to announce that we had to disclaim “thread teds” and “thread bears” in our registration application to acquire “Thread Teds by Thread Bears.” She has improperly defined what disclaimers actually are.
The simplest way to explain it is this: the whole term may be registered, though individual parts of it may not be registered. This does not translate into genericness. Though some terms may not be registrable because they are generic (such as bears), other terms may not be registered because they are already owned. In disclaiming “thread bears” in this current application, it simply states that we cannot register the term “thread bears,” since it is already owned–by us. Trademark law verifies this in saying that NO disclaimer on ANY application voids out any existing registrations. Our ownership of Thread Bears® still stands. You may verify this rule here: http://www.bitlaw.com/source/15usc/1056.html
3. Policing : There have been statements made recently that we have not been policing our mark. It is very difficult to run a business, handle litigation issues, and police trademark abuse. It is especially difficult to police when there is a multitude of misinformation being passed out to the public. Abuse of our trademark has been overwhelmingly encouraged by others. We now have an outside source policing our mark. Take note: we are not required by law to give warning to a person in violation of our trademark. Consider this a warning–we can have websites/auctions removed if there is anyone misusing our trademark, OR if you are maligning our business or ownership of the trademark, OR if you are spreading misinformation/gossip about our business or trademark on any site.
Recently we have seen people who are not co-owners of our trademark attempting to permit the use of our trademark by other artists who make similar items. It is not their right to allow use of OUR trademark. We do not give them authorization to do so. If anyone has permitted, or is permitting you to use our trademark consider this–why was cancellation of our trademark sought if we, according to them, don’t own rights to the term? Why would you risk losing your website or having your auction cancelled at the risk of using “thread bears?” Would you risk it because someone, who is NOT an owner, gives you permission to? Why would anyone need an approval to use it from someone who is not involved in our business? Each artist needs to weigh their options and risks. Our outside source will be removing websites/auctions as of now. If corrections are still not made by the violators, further action WILL BE TAKEN.
The topic of our trademark is not up for discussion. If anyone has questions regarding trademark law, we encourage them to check here, or ask us directly. We have had many years of experience on the subject, and after all, it is our trademark. If you come into contact with anyone on this topic, please refer them here. These posts are available for anyone to verify trademark information.
We would like the bear world to move past this subject. It has been noted that instead of trying to malign our business and encourage illegal activity, some artists’ time would have been better spent using their talent of making incredible little things. No person should take on the duty of acting as a lawyer or trademark owner if they do not have the title.
9 thoughts on “Legal made layman’s”
It must have been discouraging for you to go after someone's trademark and find that they had friends who were ready and willing to stand up for and defend her.
It must also be frustrating for you to still have people out there who know the truth about how this went down.
I understand that you were frustrated by the feeling that people were making money off of what you considered your own idea. I also understand that you felt that you wanted to stop certain competition.
But I also feel you have gone about it in an unethical and un Christian way.
Debbie, you misunderstand us because you have never met us. You do not know us on a personal level. You have never approached us to seek answers. The only information you “know” about us has only stemmed from rumors. You do not know what we have and haven’t done. It is presumptuous of you to accuse us of proceeding in a manner that is unethical. What is actually unethical is public slander, bold unwarranted accusations, encouraged abuse, and the inability to adhere to the laws set forth by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. We have never displayed any lacking of moral principles. We never 'went after someone's trademark.' Do you know how we acquired the trademark Thread Bears®? We were the only people in this business who sought out permission to use the phrase from the people who actually owned the trademark at that time (Our Secrets, Ltd.)–because that is how a person is supposed to approach the idea of using a phrase that is Federally protected. Permission is to be sought. Since we approached them in accordance to Trademark Law, they not only approved our request of use of the phrase, but they GAVE us the rights to it. The owners actually stated that they gave it to us because they believed that God wanted us to have it. Because we did what was right, the Lord blessed us with such a great gift.
When I spoke of you “going after someone's trademark” I am not referring to “Thread Bears”. I was referring to “Thread Teds by Thread Bears”.
I wasn't aware of how you obtained “Thread Bears”, I just knew you had acquired it somehow. Perhaps God has a purpose in all of this that we cannot see yet. At the very least I have learned a lot, especially about people.
As far as what I consider unethical, it all comes back to not how you got the trademark of “Thread Bears” but how you used it. I feel it was wrong of you to claim contiuous, exclusive use, when that wasn't the case.
I have done my best to state the truth when I write about this issue (which is very rarely). It is not discussed at all in threadanimals. As you have stated before, most of the bear “world” has moved on (or is completely unaware the issue ever existed).
By stating how I feel about an issue as honestly as I can I am not being slanderous. If I have ever said anything false it was completly accidental and I apologize.
You were not around in the beginning to know he truth. We did not steal 'Thread Teds by Thread Bears.' We have a right, by law, to use this name. Under penalty of perjury, Berta made the statement that we are the first to use the term and we are the first to file for it. We have stated, publicly, why we filed for the mark. Our name Thread Bears is associated with Thread Teds due to never ending TM abuse. It still continues today. Us acquiring the mark doesn't hinder her business or keep her from using her name. It keeps her from using ours. Maybe you should be asking Berta why she needs to associate our name with hers?
You made many false statements, and not by accident. Your thread animals blog is full of slanderous misinformation, so is your 'threadbears' blog of “How thread and bears became EVIL”. Not to mention you are still misusing our mark. I don't believe you are posting on here to find out the truth but attempting to cause further problems.
If I am misusing your mark in my sales I am not aware of it. Please have your person hired(?) to police your mark email me the site and I will fix it.
I created my blog in 2009 and all but the most recent post were written then. I felt that there needed to be two voices and you had stated your side on your homestead page.
Again..it is my side of what happened and therefore true to my knowledge. If it is erroneous than let me know where but if you just don't like how I see things I can't really change that.
If there is truth to be found that I am not aware of I am willing to be taught. Nothing you have told me so far makes what I have posted untrue.
I was grateful for the opportunity to actually dialogue about things but I am sorry that you are still insisting on going after the Thread Teds mark, that means that the issue won't be able to die quite yet.
Again.. THANK YOU…for being willing to dialogue about this, I really appreciate it. I udnerstand if you do not want to continue.
Debbie, We have never posted our complete side of the story until now. All information in the past, which was posted on our site, was to clear-up the misinformation given about our TM and those who continued to abuse it. Your posts were allowed here so others can see where the stirring comes from–the one that ignites the hatred towards us and the constant interference with her misinformation. Save your 'thank you for dialoging.' We didn't believe you really wanted to hear our side, since you weren't expecting us to leave your posts on here. You are already aware of your own abuse. You can no longer stand by your statement “If I am misusing your mark in my sales I am not aware of it.”
Thank You! I just got the notice that I was using thread bear on a page on ravelry. I had completely forgotten about that link to a free pattern. It was put up over two years ago, as you can seee from the comments. It links to this free pattern http://www.craftbits.com/project/icicle-mohair-bear which doesn't use the term.
Is there a genuine concern that someone might confuse this pattern..
with YOUR work? I should take that as a compliment.
It hasn't been removed yet and I haven't figured out how to edit it, but will keep trying. If it does get removed, I will need that contact information to provide the appropriate response.
I was really hurt by the accusations of defamation, made here and in the notice you sent. Please do more research on what the legal definitions of these terms are before you accuse me again. Disagreeing with you and how you police your mark, is NOT slander (which must be verbal), libel (a lie published to a third party that harms you) or defamation (slander and libel). It might appear to some that you are trying to deflect them from looking at facts by slinging accusations at me. I am only guilty of disagreeing with you, which is not defamation.
I changed the web page to say “Crocheted Mohair Bear”. Is there any where else you think violates your trademark?