Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dear Mr. OpEd - A Letter from Autodesk

I received an email from Autodesk yesterday. They are policing the use of their trademarks in domain names. I am not alone in this. I have heard from many others that have already been through this.

This blog uses a primary domain www.revitoped.com as a redirect to this blog's address at Google's Blogger (revitoped.blogspot.com). The essence of the letter is a demand to surrender the domain (and domains for Revit Inside and Revit JOBS) to Autodesk. I registered the domains to shorten the URL required to get to the blogs. It's easier for business cards and little easier to remember.

Obviously I'll deal with this outside of this blog. Pending that outcome I may end up making some changes around here. Maybe I'll call it tiveR OpEd instead?

In the meantime, I thought I'd share the letter I think I should have received as they are actively enforcing their trademarks. This is NOT the letter I received.


Dear Mr. Stafford

We are writing to you because you are the registrant for three web domain addresses and blogs that use the registered trademark "Revit" in them: Revit OpEd, Revit Inside and Revit JOBS.

As you know we are a company that offers many products in the marketplace. Many companies register trademarks. Revit is one, of the many, trademarks Autodesk has registered. In order to maintain and demonstrate active ownership and control of a trademark Autodesk is required to continuously police the use of its trademarks or risk losing them. Any person or company that uses a registered trademark needs to do so within boundaries and guidelines set forth by law and by the registered company's policies.

We have visited each of your sites and reviewed the content therein to determine how each bears on the trademark and Autodesk's own goals and objectives for Revit. We observed that each is focused on the needs of Revit users and is not merely a site focused on generating income by misdirecting or attracting click-thru traffic based on a domain name likely to appear in common search criteria by Autodesk Revit users.

We also asked our own product and marketing staff about your sites to get a sense of their impact on and/or relevance to our customers. Their feedback reinforced our own observations and we are grateful for the support your sites have given to our products and customers.

We have attached a Fair Use Agreement for you to review. To summarize the agreement, it stipulates that as long as you continue to operate your blogs in the manner you have already demonstrated for many years you can continue to do so, and continue using these web domains with Autodesk's permission.

We are looking forward to hearing from you so we can continue to support each other and Autodesk's customers.

Autodesk Legal


To close this post, in my view, there is nothing that prevents Autodesk from granting me permission to use their trademark in my domain name, other than a willingness to do so. I understand their situation. Where they lose my understanding is how they approached the situation with me personally. If they did a modest amount of research (externally and internally) they'd realize they are "poking a friend in the eye" over nothing. This really isn't a "slippery slope argument", that granting permission for me means they have to do so for everyone, though they ought to. I don't think their customers care if I use their trademark in my blog domain. I seriously doubt there is even the slightest consumer confusion. The reality is my blogs are such a small piece of the Internet that it is bit amusing that this is even an issue. That it is an issue is definitely a waste of resources.

I'll follow up with another post to indicate if I'll be making some changes or continuing on as before as soon as I know, either way.

8 comments:

Nick said...

Completely agree that Autodesk has gone too far in their efforts. Hopefully it works out for you (I thought when they first started this they realized the error of their ways and had backed off from shutting down the blogs?)

On an unrelated note, a few folks at my office have a theory that the new graphics for Revit / Autodesk seem to resemble the metal cornucopia thing from the "Hunger Games" movie. Let's just hope Autodesk doesn't start sending one Revit blogger from each "district" to fight to the death at AU or something. :)

Anonymous said...

But Steve, the letter that you should have received would have required a small amount of common sense - you can't expect that from "big software"...

rkitect said...

This: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/trending/This-is-the-best-response-to-a-cease-and-desist-letter-youll-ever-see.html

Anonymous said...

Steve,
What part of paragraph 4 & 5 was threatening? It was not a cease and desist order, merely keeping their (Autodesk) trademark rights in force. Just like some might want to do if they wanted to protect a trademark.

JB said...

I'm pretty surprised they have a leg to stand on here. What if your blog address was supposed to represent Revito-ped or Revi-toped or similar.
I don't see how they can enforce anything even if it was Revit.com and my intent was to represent Rev-it.com.
I think you get my point.
I guess the large question is why attack the little guys who are doing you a service and supporting your product for you?

Just my opinion (or should I say Oped).

JB

Brian Beck said...

Probably the same legal team that sent a similar letter to Klaus over at RFO several months ago. Hopefully that come to the same understanding about your useage as they did with RFO.

Steve said...

Anonymous - Are you referring to paragraph 4 and 5 in the text my letter in the blog post?

I wrote that, not Autodesk. That's how I would have written the letter, it isn't what they sent me.

I didn't share the actual letter with readers so only the authors (and I) know what is in it.

Steve said...

JB - Autodesk's policy regarding their trademarks stipulate that we don't use their trademark in a top level domain. Doing so puts me at risk for this situation. If I abandoned them they would probably not have contacted me.

I explained to them why I registered them, as a convenience to be able to refer to each blog as simply "the name" .com instead of having to include the blogspot domain every time.

My sites don't attempt to confuse consumers, it does not use logos or pretend to be officially Autodesk in any way.

My blogs are a clean example of Fair Use in action. Only the use of the top level domain in a contradiction of their policy.