Marketing Company Trademarks 'Radical Media' Threatens To Sue Real Activists

from the because-trademark-law-is,-like,-totally-radical dept

Jamie Love points us to yet another ridiculous case of trademark bullying. Apparently a marketing firm called “Radical Media” (except it stupidly spells it to sound more radical, I guess) has trademarked the term “radical media” and has threatened to sue the organizers of a conference on the generic and widely used term “radical media.” A cease-and-desist letter was sent of course, because legal bullying is so totally “radical.”

It has come to our attention that you are using the RADICAL MEDIA trademark to advertise a conference to be held in central London on 8th and 9th October 2011. This conference is not an event licensed by @radical and you will therefore appreciate that your use of the RADICAL MEDIA registered trademark constitutes an infringement and passing-off of @radical?s valuable intellectual property rights.

@radical does not take lightly any misuse of its intellectual property, unauthorised association with their programs of with itself and any possible damage to the reputation, goodwill and earnings of the same.

Rather than fight this, the creators of the conference have unfortunately caved in and renamed their event “Rebellious Media.” They claim they wanted to fight it, but the legal fees were daunting:

Our collective jaws dropped, how could anyone own an adjective? Yet in the closed-source world where intellectual property is hard currency, it appears that virtually anything may be trade-marked. We didn?t know whether to rant or cry. Our instincts told us that anyone with a radical bone in their body should fight this corporate usurpation of language, but the prospect of facing legal costs in line with house prices tempered this instinct. Even if we won such a battle we could only expect to recover 75 percent of these costs, leaving us tens of thousands of pounds down, money which ? even if we had it ? should be spent on more useful, more radical things than legal fees.

Of course, all this really seems to scream is that Radical Media… er, sorry, is a bunch of the most uncreative corporate suits imaginable. Who would ever want to hire a firm like this to do their marketing?

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Comments on “Marketing Company Trademarks 'Radical Media' Threatens To Sue Real Activists”

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Who would ever want to hire a firm like this to do their marketing?

I must have missed something because it appears Radical Media set out to retain exclusive use of its name and achieved precisely that, quickly and with negligible expense.

Obviously this is bad for the public and says nothing about their ability to market things, but quite a few clients would look at this event as a success.

Re: Re: Umm...

I must have missed something because it appears Radical Media set out to retain exclusive use of its name and achieved precisely that, quickly and with negligible expense.

At the cost of a widely used, generic term that pisses off a ton of people.

Negligible expense leaves out the cost of everyone thinking the company is full of clueless marketers who trample over legitimate uses of speech. Can’t forget about that.

Obviously this is bad for the public and says nothing about their ability to market things, but quite a few clients would look at this event as a success

Only if they don’t understand the very real costs of their actions.


To say that a company is engaged in bullying for asserting a trademark is a bit over the top. The only thing the article says is that a letter was written about a use believe to be infringing. I will admit that the letter could (and should) have been written more graciously, but a letter by itself is hardly a reason to throw in the towel.

Contrary to what some may believe to be the case, it is not a costly proposition to at least talk with an attorney to find out if there is any merit to the letter. Even a cursory search of the records of the UK equivalent of the USPTO reveals that the registrations are potentially overbroad, and encompass classes of goods and services that do not, at first glance, appear to fall within the goods and services actually provided by the registrant.

I have seen dozens of letters like this, and only in the rarest of circumstances have they withstood even a modicum of scrutiny. In the vast majority of instances a well written “pound sand” letter ends the problem then and there.

Merely as an aside, I found it somewhat ironic that the agent for service of process for matters associated with the trademark/service marks is one James Love in NYC. It seems the owner of the registered mark is a US company headquartered in NYC.

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