Thursday, January 19, 2012

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.