Inc. and “Trademark Delusion”

This week I got the following nastygram from Inc., a company that runs an anonymizing Web proxy, alleging trademark infringement.

Subject: Trademark infringement
From: "Jason Van Peeren" <withheld>
Date: Mon, February 25, 2008 11:43 am
To: <withheld>

I noticed that you are currently using our Trademark Term in a fashion that
infringes on our trademark rights. We kindly ask you to cease and desist
the use of Anonymizer and or any variations of this trademark which has been
withstanding since May 1, 1996. In place of the term "Anonymizer," please
use "anonymous web proxy".

We thank you for your cooperation.



Jason Van Peeren

Web Marketing Manager

Anonymizer, Inc.
Trusted / Proven / Secure

My reply:

From: Tim @ cexx <withheld>
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2008 10:07 AM
To: Jason Van Peeren
Subject: Re: Trademark infringement

We have received this identical letter several years ago, and replied to it.
Please refer to
Then go away.

…Yes, the linked reply predates this letter by several years, mainly because I received the exact same letter (right down to the bizarre capitalization of “trademark”) from a different name at the same company that many years before, and already told them to piss off, in the much longer form shown.

The best part is this ruff, tuff legal shark’s reaction to my reply.

Subject: RE: Trademark infringement
From: "Jason Van Peeren" <withheld>
Date: Wed, February 27, 2008 2:24 pm
To: <withheld>

Thanks for your reply. Sorry to bug you Tim

Some additional lessons, as long as I’m mistaking this for Tim’s Law Blog:

1) Use of a(n allegedly) trademarked term in a generic way is ABSOLUTELY NOT trademark infringement. (Infringement would occur if I made shitty pants in my basement and sold them as Levis, but not if I “creamed my Levis” when I saw some new gizmo.) Dilution might be closer to the mark, but even that’s stretching the Silly Putty(R) a bit. (Actually, I think the most correct term for this is genericide, although I believe in this case use of the term generically predates this company and its use of the term as a service mark).

2) And actually yes, we’re talking about a service mark here, not a trademark ( Inc.’s “The Anonymizer” is a service, not a product.)

3) Oh yes, and if you ever invent, say, the greatest new painkiller since sliced vodka, don’t name it The Painkiller.

Folks, protect your language! Don’t let companies get away with this crap.

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