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KEEP "ENTREPRENEUR" FREE -- THE FACTS

 

Entrepreneur Media, Inc. is listed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as the registrant for trademark Reg. Nos. 1892783 and 1453968, trademarks pertaining to the word "entrepreneur" in certain specified instances.

Additionally, Entrepreneur Media currently is the registered owner of several dozen Internet domain names, among them entrepreneur.com, entrepreneur.org, entrepreneurmagazine.com, entrepreneurmag.com, entrepreneurmedia.com and such obscure variations as soyentrepreneur.com, entreprener.com, entrepener.com, entrepenor.com, eentrepreneur.com and eentrepreneurs.com.

The following is a partial summary of hostile action Entrepreneur Media, Inc. has taken over the past few years against small businesses and individuals serving the entrepreneurial community, as determined by Entrepreneurs.com:

Entrepreneurs.com

  • In a letter dated March 4, 1999, Entrepreneur Media, Inc. alleged that the name "Entrepreneurs.com" and the corresponding domain name are "confusingly similar" to its trademark and demanded that Entrepreneurs.com "immediately cease and desist from using the mark ENTREPRENEURS.COM and transfer the domain name ENTREPRENEURS.COM" to Entrepreneur Media. WebMagic's legal counsel politely declined the company's request to surrender the domain, responding that Entrepreneur Media's claims were without merit.
  • On May 25, 1999, Entrepreneur Media filed a federal lawsuit against Greg McLemore, CEO of WebMagic, Inc., alleging "federal trademark infringement, federal trademark dilution, federal unfair competition, state trademark infringement, state trademark dilution and state unfair competition" simply due to McLemore's registration and ownership of the Internet domain name "entrepreneurs.com." WebMagic chose Carl Oppedahl, a leading expert in the fields of trademarks and Internet law, to lead the defense. We reminded Entrepreneur Media that there was no validity to its case and warned the company that if it continued to pursue legal action, (1) that it would not be found in the right, (2) it wouldn't get the "entrepreneurs.com" domain name it coveted so much, and (3) we would work to make sure the courts ruled that Entrepreneur Media's trademarks rights in general were weak, if not nonexistent.
  • On July 9, 1999, Entrepreneur Media dropped its suit, pointedly noting that it reserved the right to file another lawsuit at any time in the future.

    Entrepreneur.com

          In 1994, James Borzilleri registered the "entrepreneur.com" domain name, intending to develop it into a bulletin-board system for his business ventures. Several years later, after he had begun to make use of the Web site, Entrepreneur Media threatened to sue Borzilleri for trademark dilution and demanded he surrender the domain name. Borzilleri delined to give up his domain name. Entrepreneur Media then complained to Network Solutions which, according to a policy that has since been abandoned, placed the domain name on hold without attempting to investigate the merits of Entrepreneur Media's claims. This did not take the domain name away from Borzilleri, but prevented him from using it unless he sued Entrepreneur Media. A judge would have almost certainly ruled in Borzilleri's favor, but such a process would probably have cost Borzilleri tens of thousands of dollars.

          Several times, most recently in 1999, we offered to help Borzilleri in any way we could. We even offered to buy the "entrepreneur.com" domain name. Borzilleri informed us that he really looked forward to the day his domain would be taken off hold so he could build his dream and wasn't interested in selling. We understand the entrepreneurial dream, saw it in Borzilleri, and didn't pursue purchasing the domain from him any further.

          Finally, in 1999, Borzilleri sold "entrepreneur.com" to Entrepreneur Media. It turns out he never took our offer seriously because he didn't think anyone would be interested in a domain name that had been damaged as much as his. This entrepreneur has few pleasant memories regarding ownership of "entrepreneur.com." It appears that when he sold his domain name to Entrepreneur Media he agreed not to discuss the sale or any of the company's previous attacks against him.

    Entrepreneur Network

          Jeff Busche acquired the "entrepreneur.net" domain name in 1997. In 1999, Entrepreneur Media filed a federal lawsuit against him alleging trademark infringement and demanding that he surrender the Web address (seeing a pattern here?). It later dropped the suit and complained to Network Solutions, which placed the domain name on hold, again under an extremely flawed policy that has since been abandoned. "They're stomping on the new entrepreneurs," Busche said of Entrepreneur Media's actions against small businesses. "It's totally ironic."

          Fortunately for Busche, Network Solutions has apparently had a change of heart -- it recently announced that it intends to release all domain names previously placed on hold.

    EntrepreneurPR

          On July 10, 1998, and Jan. 7, 2000, the Sacramento Business Journal noted that Entrepreneur Media has sued Scott Smith's Sacramento, Calif., company, EntrepreneurPR, claiming that the name of Smith's company, its domain name (entrepreneurpr.com) and its quarterly publication, Entrepreneur Illustrated, all infringe on Entrepreneur Media's trademarks. The article notes that Smith intends to go to trial and has spent approximately $50,000 in legal fees to date. The trial has been postponed several times and now is scheduled for June 2000. We encourage anyone with information of benefit to Smith's case to contact him as soon as possible.

          EntrepreneurPR itself has a trademark registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO registration No. 2,267,322, registered Aug. 3, 1999). The USPTO didn't feel there were any conflicts between EntrepreneurPR and Entrepreneur Media but this hasn't stopped Entrepreneur Media. It has filed an objection to the EntrepreneurPR trademark registration and its civil case against Smith continues. Smith has observed that even applying for a trademark registration with the U.S. government gives businesses no protection against the spurious litigation of a hostile and covetous opponent. "There's no shield you can put up against being sued civily by a company," he said.

    Young Entrepreneur (now Y&E)

          Born from a modest newsletter created by Atlanta-based KidsWay, Young Entrepreneur grew into a nationally distributed magazine -- and attracted the hostile attention of Entrepreneur Media. Publisher Misty Elliott said the company received a cease-and-desist letter and ultimately made the decision to change the magazine's name to Y&E. "We're just a young company," she told Entrepreneurs.com. "It was just a matter of channeling our focus toward building our business and not fighting a lawsuit."

    Asian Entrepreneur (now Asian Enterprise)

          Barely more than a year into its existence, fledgling magazine Asian Entrepreneur received a cease-and-desist letter from Entrepreneur Media demanding that the publication select another name. "We decided to do the name change," publisher Gelly Borromeo told Entrepreneurs.com, citing the cost the legal battle would have had on the small California company. Still, she admitted she's not happy about the switch to Asian Enterprise. "I still would have preferred Asian Entrepreneur," she said. Borromeo described Entrepreneur Media's threat as a farce, one with "very negative impacts" on her small business. "They're trying to muzzle small guys," she said.

    Publishing Entrepreneur (now Independent Publisher)

          According to publisher Jerrold Jenkins, Entrepreneur Media objected to his Michigan company's magazine, Publishing Entrepreneur, claiming that the name infringed on its trademarks. After an initial cease-and-desist letter, Entrepreneur Media sued Jenkins. "I probably did nothing wrong," Jenkins told Entrepreneurs.com, "it's just that defending myself would have cost 50 grand." The suit was settled after Jenkins agreed to change the publication's name, which later became part of Independent Publisher, a Web site supporting authors, writers and publishers. "Ridiculous," Jenkins characterized the ordeal, calling it a David-and-Goliath battle between a large corporation and a small business.


    Please note that the cases cited above are only some of the disputes created by Entrepreneur Media's campaign. We will continue to update this page with evidence of other businesses and individuals victimized by the company's hostile, litigious stance toward the entrepreneurial community.

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