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I just received an email from the state of Florida for infringing on their trademark of "My/Florida dot com" and all related marks for my domain: My/fl dot net.

They are requesting that I relinquish the domain, etc. I have already taken down the parked page. I dont see how My/fl is infringing, it isnt common knowledge that fl is abbreviated for florida..and according to the latest case of Totyota vs. Tabari; use of TM in a domain does not alone establish trademark infringement and must support all of the following 3 principles:.

1. The product is readily identifiable without the use of the mark;.

2. The use of the mark is excessive or goes beyond what is otherwise necessary; and.

3. The use misleadingly suggests that the domain is sponsored or endorsed by the trademark /img/avatar2.jpg.

Never had any ads on the site pertaining to the state of florida, nor did I mention this domain was affiliated with the state of florida.

What should I do? drop domain or turn it over or keep it?..

Comments (48)

Are you 100% sure it was the state of florida that sent you the email? I just can't imagine they care and realistically I think you can defend this...

Comment #1

Labrocca - yes, I checked to make sure the attorney that filed the TM was the one who signed the email..

Comment #2

I usually get this completely wrong in here and I am in no way a lawyer but I don't think they can make any assumption that your domain is infringing on any trademark can they?.

Can you even trademark a continent/country/state/region/city/town/village?!.

This vaguely reminds me of that sex.com scandal that I read where many domains were stolen and people threatened for legal action simply because they had the name "sex" in their domain name...

My/FL could stand for "Manassas Youth Football League".

Just because it shares similarities doesn't mean you are infringing...

Comment #3

I don't live in the US, yet I beg to disagree. I seem to remember a case similar to yours was posted once on NP..

Use the forum search..

Comment #4

Does the domain get much traffic?.

My/Fl-Com isn't owned by Florida either, and is parked.

I suspect the email you received was an automated C&D notification sent to many registrants of domains they feel are similar to their TMs.

Ron..

Comment #5

Thanks for all the replies!.

@sparhawke - they cant TM a region but since the word my is preceded by it then the TM is possible.

@sdsinc - I'm looking for the thread now, do you remember anything else about it?.

@domagon - the email was addressed to me and also contained the name of my domain, so not sure if it was automated or not - the rest of the content could have easily been automated. I suspect that the .com hasn't been approached because the domain was created prior to the TM being established - making floridas case weaker.

Should I respond to the c&d - I have been reading that it is best to respond or else it makes you look kind of guilty, also if you dont respond they can accuse you of your whois info being wrong...not sure what to do..

Comment #6

If it bounces or the phone number is disconnected.... you not choosing to respond is a matter of your personal conscience as far as I'm concerned.

The TM is specifically MyFlorida.com and a graphic My {stylized map of Florida} - listed as MyFlorida.

[url=http://tess2.uspto.gov/[/url].

I doubt the state has the cash to bother with such a stupid waste of time - though nothing would surprise me anymore.

If you respond to UDRP you win I would imagine. I wouldn't do anything but ignore..

I AM NOT A LAWYER. If it's REALLY REALLY official looking then I'm not sure.... get one of those free 20 min lawyer consults...

Comment #7

Fl can be an abbreviation for anything, provided google/archive.org doesn't prove your intentions to be of bad faith. Give their lawyer a call.

P.S.,.

If they persist, seeking publicity is probably good for your pagerank ;-)..

Comment #8

I am likewise not a lawyer, but I think you can safely tell Florida to pound sand....well, not in those terms, but they're merely trying to intimidate you, it would appear...

Comment #9

The State of Florida used to own and operate myflorida.com (check archive dot org). Florida Dept. of Health homepage.

Word Mark: MYFLORIDA.COM.

Registration Date: June 10, 2003.

Owner: (REGISTRANT) State Technology Office STATE AGENCY FLORIDA 4030 Esplanade Way, Suite 180 Tallahassee FLORIDA 32399.

Live/Dead Indicator: LIVE..

Comment #10

True, but that doesn't mean they have a lock on every TLD. Unless the OP is running a site that could confuse consumers, they really don't have much of a leg to stand on...

Comment #11

Thanks all - I was going to respond but then I just realized that they are sucm and reverse hijacking my domain...i have now received the same email 3x - like spam, they sure are persistent.

In no way is my domain confusingly similar to their TM, but they do happen to own the .org and .biz - the only way I am relinquishing this domain is through a WIPO dispute.

Can I get sued for any reason?..

Comment #12

Do they send you an actual letter format or just an email? most law firm send a pdf letter. Call the law firm to double check..

Comment #13

I received the same email 3x - no pdf or letter..

Comment #14

Most legit ones also send certified real mail since email can get caught in spam filters and such...

Comment #15

The email was caught in spam folder all 3x:.

Apparently I am not the only one that this guy is going after: Florida domain and the State of Florida : Domain Law - Domain Forum of Domainnews.com..

Comment #16

Nice use of taxpayer money. FWIW, I think this is key: You have a domain which could be interpreted 100 different ways. If you had been using it to promote Florida tourism or pass yourself off as the official website, that would be one thing, but if you weren't using it in a way related to Florida - just another IANAL opinion, but it seems to me like you should be OK...

Comment #17

CRAP! MYFL.org was brought to WIPO and they made them transfer:.

Case Details for WIPO Case D2009-0403.

WIPO Case Summary.

WIPO Case Number D2009-0403.

Domain name(s) myfla.org.

Myfl.org.

Myfolrida.com.

Myforida.com.

Complainant Florida Department of Management Services.

Respondent Domain Names, Administration / Name Administrator / Domain Admin. / Domain, Administration.

Panelist Turner, Jonathan.

Decision Date 18-05-2009.

Decision Transfer Post added at 01:28 PM Previous post was at 01:15 PM "As regards the Domain Names <myfla.org> and <myfl.org>, the letters my are an identifiable word and Fla and Fl are often used as abbreviations for Florida. These domain names may therefore be seen as combining the word my followed by an abbreviation of Florida. In these circumstances, some Internet users familiar with the Complainants marks would be liable to assume that the Complainant has adopted these as alternative domain names for accessing it's portal.

This assessment is further substantiated by the fact that the Respondent at one time directed the Domain Names <myfla.org> and <myfl.org> to it's website at www.myforida.com, which has evidently been set up as described above (under Factual Background) to take advantage of confusion with the Complainants marks. This indicates that the Respondent believed that Internet users are liable to confuse these Domain Names with the Complainants marks. Some weight should be attached to this consideration in the absence of any explanation on the part of the Respondent.

The first requirement of the UDRP is satisfied."..

Comment #18

They still own it right ? Probably this one: http://www.namepros.com/legal-issues...e-florida.html..

Comment #19

My home state, ladies and gentlemen. So. Proud. Sniff.

Frank..

Comment #20

So the way they were using it affected the decision.

Might want to give your lawyer a call .....

Comment #21

Mine too!.

Considering that there was a WIPO decision that already found the same domain as mine in a different ext guilty of cybersquatting and TM infringement I pretty much have no case, as this is precedent - am I wrong or do I have a chance here?..

Comment #22

I wouldn't say it is precedent personally as they were specifically trying to siphon traffic, yours simply shares some of the same letters in a completely different extension and if what you say is true, does not even play in the same park as all the other Florida kids.

I don't really want to wander through the Apple orchard/analogy again but it all comes down to usage and intent, not a specific configuration of letters otherwise I might as well trademark and copyright every letter in the Roman alphabet and be done with it.

This sounds more to me like one of those times when someone doesn't want to make a legitimate offer for a domain that could potentially strengthen their position and would rather use strongarm tactics to make someone simply hand it over. It is a gamble on their part that lawyers fees may be lost, but it is either that or spend months negotiating.

Your next move would be to see a lawyer, and bringing them details of the previous case would probably be a help so that they don't need to run off looking for it...

Comment #23

Check out the UDRP process.

I think that they have to prove all three criteria to win a ruling.

1. Confusingly similar.

2. Legitimate interest.

3. Use in bad faith...

Comment #24

^^^what he said. While I tend to bash on TM domains, just because Florida's attorneys had a bad experience with the .org and .com variants of your domain does not get them a de facto right to your .net The other aspects of the criteria have to be met for them to get a successful ruling.

Frank..

Comment #25

Why not reply, politely, asking them why they consider your domain has infringed their rights, before spending money on a lawyer ? I would keep it short and specific and under no circumstances offer to sell them the domain. This seems to be a hopeful attempt to get your domain for free...

Comment #26

You missed this: B. Respondent.

As stated above, the Respondent did not reply to the Complainants contentions.

Rule one of UDRP - File a response. If you don't you more or less lose.

My opinion. If you respond. They will lose.

MyFl doesn't even match their mark. They don't use MyFl.

You don't do anything infringing.

Tell them to pound sound (I like that whoever said it above.)..

Comment #27

Looks to be ads related to government service on the old park page, eg ads pertaining to the dmv. I think this would be lost in a dispute. Would probably either not reply or hand it over, I would think carefully before arguing with them, the stuff in the first post sounds off the mark. I think you'd need to argue you had no clue what was on the park page to make a case...

Comment #28

I actually phoned the complainant attorney and spoke with him, he mentioned that they have gone to great lengths to protect their trademark and it is plastered over 20 million license plates. he assured me they werent going after small businesses just to get a domain, they are protecting the "tax payers" -LMAO this is whole fiasco is costing me and everyone in the state $. Regardless he said I will be hearing back from, I really dont want to just hand over teh domain...id rather have them fight for it.

I had the domain at Parked.com for the past few months but I never bothered to check the ads nor did I ever modify the keywords...how are you able to see what ads appeared?..

Comment #29

FL can mean many things. FL - Definition by AcronymFinder.

If the domain is not locked I suggest you pick one of those meanings and develop it into a website.

If you need help with building a website I can help you for free setting up the site. You will need to provide the hosting. It is easy to set up a wordpress site and post some content. Send me a pm if you need help with that.

There are many things wrong with this case. Even if those fools have a trademark for myflorida, it doesn't give them exclusive rights for that term. Another thing is the state isn't supposed to register generic terms in the dot com extension and then go after other individuals and businesses who are using the same term. They are full of crap...

Comment #30

The trademark being "MyFlorida.com".

I fail to see how MyFl.net can be confused for that mark even if the site was about your personal feelings for Florida...

Comment #31

They have a trademark for "myflorida" as well, without the dot com.

There a law firm known for their pro bono service: Jenner & Block LLP: A National Law Firm.

I suggest you contact them and see if they are willing to accept your case free of charge. This is the firm that represented spamhaus for free in the US.

Your case has also some news value and you could contact local news agencies and let them know how this guy is spending public funds.

Florida.gov which is what they should be using, redirects to "myflorida.com" which is something stupid to do...

Comment #32

It is cached by google.[COLOR="Silver"] Post added at 04:49 AM Previous post was at 04:43 AM The days of getting a C&D and then successfully defending the name by developing it into some fabricated site are long gone, let's not suggest silly thing here...

Comment #33

Is the name worth fighting for, is it that great of a name and lets face the facts the most popular meaning for FL is well... sure you could make something up on the spot as to what FL could stand for but is it really worth the hassle? I just don't see this name as having any obvious value off the top of my head...

Comment #34

Tippy - the thought has come to my mind as well to just let it to go but I would rather fight, thats just me. I really dont have anything better to do with my time as I am currently unemployed. in all honestly the domain is worthless - I know this but the mere fact that someone with more $ and resources can bully someone into giving up an asset, no matter how small, really irks me...especially when your tax $ are contributing to their worthless crusade. Post added at 10:07 AM Previous post was at 10:04 AM I see it - thats a bummer bc it looks like Parked used "FL" as the keywords..

Comment #35

Just did a Google "site:" search on your domain - doing a complete 180 from what I said earlier - it doesn't look good. You said there was nothing for Florida on there, but I'm seeing page titles like "Florida Business", "Florida Banks", "Florida Retirement", "Florida Taxes", "Florida Health Insurance" ...Also, did you put the disclaimer on the page before or after they contacted you? If it was after, then you should assume they've have screenshots without it.

Sometimes it's better to park a domain on a blank page than let parking companies pick ads that will shoot you in the foot...

Comment #36

Yeah I see that - I never even visited the site to see what ads were up there because I never thought that I was infringing on MYFlorida.com. I never added a disclaimer either - weird...

Comment #37

You guys are approaching this subject from the wrong perspective. It is not the state's job to create a trademark like "myflorida" and to compete against other people or businesses who might want to use the same term.

They have the domain "florida.gov" and that domain is only used to redirect to myflorida.com which is wrong on principle.

Other states are using the correct domain. For instance Illinois is using State of Illinois Home : Home. What the fools is Florida are doing is totally wrong.

As far as I know in the US official departments don't claim copyright on the material they create. For instance if there are photos or articles on government sites they don't claim copyright for them because the copyright belongs to the public. The idea is that those departments are there to serve the public...

Comment #38

Although I tend to agree with you on this, I don't think this argument will help the OP to win a UDRP. It is a bigger issue for a bigger court IMO..

With the relevation about the ads on the domain name, I too will do a U-turn. As Ivan Drago said in the Rocky film. " You will loose ".

1. The name could be considered to be misleading because of those ads.

2. Parking is not recognized as a legitimate interest and.

3. Could be considered an act of bad faith.

Just my opinion, it could be a lot more complicated than this but for a cheap domain, why put yourself through the mill ?

Comment #39

Oh, I enjoy a good fight as well but only when I know I am 100% in the right. In this case and after reading all posts/info provided well I'm not so sure I would be willing to take on the giant.

I too have the time but if I had to start laying out $ to fight well I'd have to wave the white flag. I can't see it costing nothing to defend this name, there would most certainly be costs involved.

Good luck,.

Mike..

Comment #40

Oh yeah. I still fail to see how I would be confused. I thought that was the image.. that's [my my florida].

Oh well.

None of this is worth if for a parked page anyway.

Though I believe that the Gov should have better things to do.

I don't think it's worth having my name on a UDRP (just in case I lost)....

Comment #41

Trademarks and copyrights = 2 completely different things. Yes, government documents are generally in the public domain - there are probably documents on that site which are public domain. But they DO have a reg'd tm on My Florida and MyFlorida dot com...

Comment #42

Thanks everyone - I think I'm going to just give it up and forget about it.

Cheers,.

Ben..

Comment #43

They have a right to register trademarks and protect them, the above is a nonsense argument in my view, a court or arbitration panel would throw out the argument in 10 seconds. Also the dispute has nothing to do with copyright. Post added at 04:08 PM Previous post was at 04:01 PM Not really true, it is only in isolated cases where someone has successfully claimed a trademark over a place name and it is often seen as an unusual decision when it happens.

The thing it here though the term "myflorida" is quite fanciful as opposed to be a trademark over a place name...

Comment #44

But how is MyFl violating MyFlorida?.

SecondLife has a TM on any use of SL. Why wouldn't the state need a TM on FL also?.

Does this mean that anyone who TMs a full written out City gets the rights to a commonly used abbrev?.

File for: NEW YORK REAL ESTATE PARTNERS.

And you automatically get protection of:.

NYREPartner and NY Real Estate Partners and New York RE Partners?.

In .com/.net/.org et al..

Comment #45

By showing ads relating to the florida government. The issue is how the name has been used. In my view it is being used in an infringing way. Much like I could own apple.org and likely have a good case in court if I was selling fruit. As opposed to owning apple.org and advertising apple computers. Having said that even without usage something like apple is far more generic that myfl which sounds like something related to florida from first sight.

I live in Australia and if before this dispute someone has posted a name with "fl" on the end I would have immediately thought florida just like I'd think NY means New York and FR means France. Sounds a very different dispute, because the trademark here isn't for a city name, it is for "myflorida", that is nothing like trying to claim trademark rights over a city name. In that situation if someone running ads on NYREPartner.com about the TM owner then I think they'd have trouble...

Comment #46

I've been enjoying a lovely vacation for a week, and this thread has really grown some weeds and awful observations.

There is a phrase I really want folks to get into their heads, and that phrase is "fact intensive". It is a descriptive phrase that applies to certain types of cases, and applies in spades to trademark cases. It is what makes general rules hard to find in this area.

Now, first, let's take a fact that might not be known to many folks who have commented on this thread, but is a real standout fact that receives passing mention above, and is OBVIOUS AS HELL to anyone who has visited Florida in recent years.

Printed on darn near every license plate on every vehicle issued in the State of Florida is "MyFlorida.com". They look like this: http://corymccollum.files.wordpress....hine_state.gif.

Every non-retarded adult in the State of Florida is blitheringly aware of this fact, because they see it somewhere everytime they go outside.

So, it's one thing to say, for example, someone from RandomTown, Brazil might not attach any peculiar significance to "MYFL.tld", or that the letters could "stand for anything"; it is a real reach to imagine that a domain registrant IN FLORIDA didn't have some idea of that the prefix "My" and the postal abbreviation for Florida bears a relationship of some kind to what that person sees EVERY DAY of their life on MILLIONS of license plates surrounding them.

Sure, the Manassas Youth Football League could certainly register the domain name and put it to good use. But, the Manassas Youth Football League is not the registrant of this domain name, and it is not being used for their football league. Instead, the domain name, since the time of registration has been providing PPC links for services relating to government functions of the State of Florida. That kind of thing is what I like to call the "hypothetical defense". Yes, on some other set of facts not present here, the situation would be different. But so what - these cases are decided on the actual facts, not the facts of some alternative universe.

Another truth here is that the State of Florida probably should use florida.gov instead of myflorida.com. Again, perhaps there is an alternate universe in which they do. In this reality, however, they use MyFlorida.com, have been doing so for many years, have a longstanding family of related federal trademark registrations, and a good deal of the population of Florida, including this domain registrant, are likely perfectly aware of that fact.

Granted "MYFL" might not look like anything of particular significance to someone who is unfamiliar with the State of Florida, it's license plates, signage, and logos on darn near every piece of official correspondence. But we have to circle back to what was THIS person thinking when registering the domain name. In the case of a reasonably aware person who happens to be a resident of Florida, the answer appears obvious. Now, I use the word "appears" there because we of course cannot truly know another person's thoughts. However, state of mind is relevant in all sorts of legal situations, and not just domain names. We determine it by looking at all of the actual facts - not some hypothetical facts - and then inferring what was going on.

So, the facts:.

1. In Florida, "MyFlorida.com" is plastered on every official sign, document, and even the license plates on cars. They've been doing this for a long, long time and have several federal trademark registrations.

2. The domain name is registered to someone IN Florida, whom we might assume is not an idiot.

3. The domain name has been displaying PPC links specifically relating to services provided by the government of Florida.

So, those are the apparent facts from square one. Now, there may be other facts known only to the domain registrant. But whatever those facts may be, it is a clear uphill effort to overcome, by some self-serving revelation of those unknown facts, the clear inference to be drawn on the facially apparent facts of the situation...

Comment #47

I have been in Florida for about 20 years. If you had asked me what was on a Florida plate I would have said "Orange". If you had asked what else? I would have said "numbers?". And asked again "Letters?". If you had said what url? I would likely have guessed..."Florida.Gov?".

Now. Seeing the licence plate I slap my head and go "Oh yeah!".

What does this tell me? I don't think the mark works. But before I conclude that I am going to ask 10 people tomorrow - I will report the results because I'm curious if I really am just a blithering retard.

As far as I'm concerned this is the biggest waste of tax payer money. Seems like easy money for some Law Firm.. find anything remotely like MyFlorida.com and UDRP it. I may put in a public record request to find out exactly HOW MUCH this IS costing - this is public record right?.

I don't think that any advertising has worked. I guess 2 million people a month use the site.. I know I have but I can be sure as heck I've never typed it in... Their LOGO I do recognize (My FL FL) so I can understand protecting that and that makes sense.

BUT.

I'm not going to disagree with you on anything from a legal standpoint (as you are ...err.... FAR MORE qualified than myself). That said - I don't believe I appreciate being termed a blithering retard.

I think the ability to trademark something as silly as MY and STATE and that then, in turn, allows you to own MY FL even more absurd.

The FIRST suggestion when a domain is taken is to add "MY" to it. It seems so generic as to be almost Un-TM able but I guess everything is possible in this stupid world we call TM law. I can see some moron on in Tallahassee going to GoDaddy and typing in Florida and it saying "Taken.. but MyFlorida is available".

At this point it may have just been cheaper to just buy Florida.com and be done with it... or wait... brand Florida.gov. Who would have thought of that? Not lawyers cashing in on this, that's for sure.

What I don't understand is that the UDRP/ACPA is not supposed to (my understanding) focus on CONTENT.

My question is for the expert:.

If the site had contained photos that the owner had taken and displayed and labeled My Florida - what florida Means to me... would the case be different?.

If the site had contained NOTHING and was not hosted anywhere - would the case be different? I don't think that they can enforce "timeframe" to develop.

Just curious. I'm genuinely interested...

Comment #48


This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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