Out of the Thistle

Out of the thistle our business has come,
Sick and tired of being overrun.
It tried to bloom where its seed was sown
While at the same time the weeds had grown.

The thistle had grown so dense and entangled
That everything they touched was choked-out or mangled.
Passersby who would see the weed-ridden field
Would know of no blossoms that were being concealed;
They would be distracted by the bright red plumes,
Ignoring all the thorns and spines that loomed.

So for this business to bloom and expand
It has been decided that it needs a new brand.
Our previous name was abused and polluted,
So by the Hand of God we are being up-rooted.

In picking a new name our business is resurrected
And getting new life in soil uninfected.
So with a whoop and a holler and a cheer and a whistle,
We couldn’t be happier to come out of the thistle.

We appreciate your patience while we make all the changes! You can still follow us on all social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram under the new name! We are also still the title owners of the Thread Teds by Thread Bears® mark and will continue to use it.

 

A rose by any other name.

Newness feels good: new linens, a new haircut, a new day, a new name.

It’s the dawning of a new day for our small family business, a day to start fresh and shrug off the old.  In this new day of this new year, we are making big changes… which is frightening and exciting all at the same time. First on the list: change our business name.

Thread Bears has been our business name for quite some time. In 2003, the owners of the trademark had given us the rights. They had told us that they believed that God wanted us to have it. It was an incredible thing to hear. For that reason alone, the name had sentimental value behind it. But as the years went on, two legal battles were brought against us in an attempt to have our trademark revoked. We had spent over a decade fighting to protect this name, to defend our ownership of it.  And we won.  We plead our case and won both battles. And even though we won, there was no sense of gratification, no sense of relief. The infringement of Thread Bears® wouldn’t cease.

The person who battled us for our given name refused to abide by the law and just stop using it. This person feels as though she is above the law, and quite frankly it has appeared that way. It is clear that she will stop at nothing to try to associate herself with our business.

Sometimes, you have to change your phone number to avoid having your stalker calling you. And so, at this time we have decided to break away from the business name Thread Bears. The name does not bring happiness. The name does not make a person richer, and it does not make a person more talented. The name doesn’t make a person better. The name doesn’t make a life better lived. The name doesn’t make our business, we do. It’s our products that make us stand apart. It’s the valuable lessons learned through the litigation battles that have taught us to be better business women, the name itself did not teach us that. It’s our faith in God that keeps us persistent in this line of work and knowing that He is leading us to a better place in business and in our lives. The name doesn’t give us that.

We had a year after winning these proceedings to see a change, and we didn’t. And so, we did not fight to renew our trademark registrations. We were told that this person would always continue to battle us in this, and we don’t want to spend our days fighting.

The knowledge we have gained in all of this is what is truly priceless.

As we work to change our name, we are excited about the new possibilities it holds for us–a new direction! We will let you all know shortly what our new business name is!

 

 

 

 

 

If you stand in an upright position, you will see over the garbage.

We’re sure that Debbie is on here again, publicly complaining, because she recently had posts deleted for trademark infringement on her blog. As she had stated in a message to us: “Nobody is using Thread Bears any more and it’s all yours.” However, she has had items removed for infringement–not used by mistake–because she already knows that this is a registered trademark. She has claimed that we do business “unethically,” yet she continues to give misinformation at our place of business.

Debbie, you can’t speak on our behalf because you were not involved in the beginning.  You don’t know how long we were permitted to use “thread bears” before we had legally acquired it. Unlike some who use it by “mistake”–we didn’t make excuses or try to defend ourselves, or even try to publicly slander the owners when it was brought to our attention. Since we do business in an upright manner, we fixed our mistake in the legal, ethical way. We went to the source with good intentions.

Debbie, you have not only used it for years without our permission, but you have also encouraged others to use it–along with the encouragement from Bobbie and Berta. You and your friends promote abuse, then when products are removed for infringement, you drum up anger against us for policing it. And it’s really odd that Bobbie and Berta encourage others to use it, then turn them in to the US Patent and Trademark Office as needing to be policed. Hmm… This info ofthem turning in “unpoliced” can be verified with the following link, beginning on page #240: http://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/v?pno=91192706&pty=OPP&eno=47.

Most people who are notified of the infringement are given an opportunity to change it. This policing situation is extremely exaggerated. People are always able to re-sell an item in compliance–unless they simply refuse to stop using the trademark–such as our worst violator.

Now, Debbie, just because we try to protect what is legally and rightfully ours–it doesn’t mean that we don’t have forgiveness… though I’m sure it exceeds “seventy times seven times.” And we still continue to forgive.  As you can see, we follow Trademark Law and don’t knowingly use other’s trademarks. Since we do upright business, this shows that we try to live our lives in ways that would be most pleasing to our Lord.

No arrgh-ument here, piracy is bad.

As you may have heard, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the Stop Online Piracy Act.  A large portion of the general public worries about how S.O.P.A. would affect their rights.  To those that are worried about how they will be affected–if you aren’t purchasing knock-offs, if you don’t illegally download music and movies, if you aren’t helping others to do these illegal things, then what have you got to worry about?  
It should be as simple as this…theft, no matter what form, is bad.     

Not only is it theft to allow people to freely download a song or movie on the internet, it is also theft to take someone else’s photo and slightly alter it, then call it your own. When a person purchases a pattern, then prints out a bunch of copies to hand out or sell, it is a form of theft.  When someone makes items that look, in any way, similar to another’s products, then uses that other person’s trademark, these items then become counterfeit items–which is also theft.  When counterfeit items are distributed, it not only robs the trademark/patent/copyright owner of potential customers, it also robs them of valuable time in trying to stop the piracy.

Our company has had quite a bit of experience with piracy.  There are still some people who offer counterfeit Thread Bears® products.  As many of you may know, our biggest offender is the same person who continues to battle us in litigation for our trademarks.

In this current trial process, this offender has mailed us documents on 12/07/11, sworn under oath, that claim (again) that we don’t police our trademark. They submitted printouts of websites and auctions that use “thread bear” (in any form) in connection to items that are (in any form) similar to our products. She also included one of her own listings as an example of the abuse! She titled this list as “uses of phrase ‘thread bear(s); individuals to manufacturers, without being policed.” However, in stating this, she is showing that she is aware that this is a registered trademark. She is also showing that she offers counterfeit items.

We have not only contacted this infringer to have the illegal information removed, we have also contacted her hosting service and webmaster to have the information removed. In swearing that we don’t police the mark, she is blatantly lying to a Federal Court. In fact, we have kept over 100 policing emails that we have sent in the last three months alone. The only response we get in regards to her website is from her webmaster, which usually includes profanity.  Many people, including her webmaster, may be unaware that aiding someone in the production and distribution of stolen ideas or products is also a serious offense with serious repercussions.  We had discovered that this webmaster had received misinformation from the infringer in regards to our trademark. So, we sent him links for all of the information to verify registration for himself. At this point, he cannot use lack of knowledge as an excuse for non-compliance.

This infringer continues to offer counterfeit items. She has no shame in knowing that she is offering fraudulent items–so much so that she is not ashamed to tell a Federal Court.  If the government needs to step in to stop easy access to websites that are stealing from the actual owners of the trademarks/patents/copyrights, then so be it. Piracy is a big issue at this time–obviously big enough for an Act to be drawn up. There should be resources in place to help the victims of online theft. It shouldn’t have to take over 100 emails to cease the selling of pirated items.

Bear Reproduction

No, the subject of this post is not how adorable, fuzzy little cubs are made 🙂

We have had a couple of bear artists approach us with concerns of “copycats.”  These artists have said that they can tell when certain bear artists are copying our latest designs–that when we change a certain feature or detail, so does the other bear artist.  It can be argued that the other artists’ changes are made all in coincidence.  However, it is no longer coincidence after it reoccurs.  To address this fact–we can’t remove every person that makes a product similar to ours, and that is precisely why we try to stay a step ahead.  We are continuously changing our products, offering new ways of adding detail and dimension.  The copycats are just going to have to try to keep up!  We are going to keep them on their toes!  The mere fact is that collectors and other bear artists will catch on.  They can see when the coincidences turn into recurrences.  It is an exciting challenge to develop new techniques–we encourage all artists to do so!

Legal made layman’s

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.