What to do when a billion-dollar company is using your trademark

May 14, 2015, In: Community, DO, Featured
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It’s been a while since I have blogged, due to time constraints, but something has happened to one of our Savor members and I felt I had to speak out.

In May 2014, flip flop designer Terri Kelly did what most of us entrepreneurs do: she decided to protect her brand by trademarking her tagline, “Yoga Pants for Your Feet®.” This mother of six who is in the “second act” of her life had launched her dream business in Southern California after her last child left for college. 

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When she joined Savor Success Circles, I challenged her to pound the pavement and sell into boutiques, shops, and local stores. I was always amazed at how she rose to the challenge with gusto and grace. She did what you are supposed to do to protect your trademark: she used the registered trademark symbol next to her slogan, consistently on her website, and in social media.

Savor members not only fell in love with her flip flops and her tagline — but also with Terri’s “I can do it” spirit. 

Once when Terri was feeling stuck with business, I called and DARED her to sell $600 in one weekend. She emailed me Monday morning to announce that she had met the mark. I love entrepreneurs, and I love the kind that doesn’t shrink at a challenge. This mom of six who launched her dream business in her 50’s had my heart and my belief in her.

Little did I know what would happen next: in March 2015, a billion-dollar company launched a national campaign using her trademark, “Yoga Pants for Your Feet.” Whether they stole it or used it unknowingly, Terri decided to have her attorney draft up a cease and desist letter as soon as she found out. If they would have dropped the use of the trademark and issued an apology, this response would have warranted loyalty and respect by the entrepreneurial community.

That’s not what their response was. It was disappointing on every cellular level. While Terri cannot get into the details, in short, they continue to use her Trademark.

I received this text from Terri three weeks ago.

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I immediately called her and asked, “Terri, what would you advise your daughter? What would you tell her to do if a billion-dollar company used her trademark that she fought for? This is bigger than you, Terri. You will be fighting for so much more than you. This may be your life’s calling. How many of us entrepreneurs back down from bigger companies, more powerful businesses because we don’t have the resources, the energy, or the money to fight them? I’ve been there. So many entrepreneurs have been there. And now you are HERE. You are leading the torch for small companies to stand up for themselves, because having someone else use your Trademark is not fair.”

On May 13, 2015, Terri filed her lawsuit in true David vs. Goliath fashion.

On her blog, Terri wrote:

My wallet is very small. But my will is very large. That is my trademark and I am going to fight for it. Please support me by using the hashtags #defendourtrademarks #skechers and send a message to Skecher’s that just because they are big does not mean they have the right to grow their company by using someone else’s idea, which happens to be protected.

We – Terri, I, you, and the entire small business sector – need your help. 

1. Please comment on this blog to show your support for Terri. She will need your energy and support for many months to come. Stand behind her and with her.

2. Click to tweet this out as often as possible:
Her words, her concept, her TM are being used by a billion $ company. http://bit.ly/1FmTaMv #DefendOurTrademarks #Skechers #smallbiz

3. Share the story with your friends on FB.

4. Instagram and/or pin this:

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Use this caption. You can tag @TKflipflops and @skechers: We stand together with @TKflipflops. Thank you for fighting for all small business owners. Go to blog.savorthesuccess.com to learn how you can support. #defendourtrademarks #begoodtopeople

5. Buy Terri Kelly flip flops (they are super comfortable – get one size up, feel amazing, and are my favorite in the whole wide world!)

6. Get thee your trademark, and let’s #defendourtrademarks together.

7. I tell all entrepreneurs I know, and I tell you now: start a legal fund. Even if you plop $50-500/month into your legal fund, this needs to be part of your savings budget so that you can protect yourself when you need to.

Peace.

———

UPDATE: 

Skechers responded on May 14, 2015:
“While we ordinarily do not comment on pending litigation, this warrants a response. Skechers categorically denies the allegations, and believes this case is nothing more than an attempt to trade on Skechers’ long track record of success. We look forward to vindicating our position in court.”

You decide (credit goes to Savor member Roylin Downs): 

terrikelly4

 

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Angela Jia Kim

Angela Jia Kim

Eco-beauty entrepreneur and intuitive business mentor, Angela Jia Kim, believes that the best beauty tip is to live your dream. She pulls from her experiences as a serial entrepreneur, jet-setting concert pianist, New York City (not house) wife, and mom to help others from beauty to business at savorbeauty.com and savorthesuccess.com.

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