Long-time community member, friend and past Gnomedex attendee Eric Rice has used the name Spin on Twitter and other sites for about four years without any issues. Rice is a technology fanatic who lives in Portland – and someone who has nothing to do with the music industry beyond being a listener. That little tidbit didn’t stop Spin Magazine from issuing a cease-and-desist order this week, demanding Eric stop using the Twitter handle. The company claims that he is being confused with their brand and taking away their customers.
In the letter Mr. Rice receive from the company’s lawyer, the Spin Magazine claims that he has “caused a significant amount of confusion among our client’s customers. In particular, individuals looking for our client on Twitter and instead getting redirected to you.” The missive goes on to state that Eric is violating their trademarks, and that “It not only confuses our client’s customers, it also dilutes the value of their well known trademark. Accordingly, we hereby demand that you cease and desist all use of our client’s trademarks.”
This could very well be one of the biggest loads of bull-hockey I have ever heard of. Eric is in no way trying to compete with or pretending to be Spin Magazine. He isn’t exactly stealing their Twitter followers, either: the company account has just over 83,000 followers while Eric’s own account has about 4,000. He’s had this account for FOUR YEARS. Not once in all of that time has he sent out a message discussing anything remotely in relation to that magazine, website or company.
The business claims that “people don’t bother to search on Google for our Twitter handle.” Okay, perhaps not. However, it is linked prominently on their website. In my opinion, anyone who simply guesses at a company’s social media account name is pretty silly. Additionally, when they arrive at Eric’s page instead of Spin Magazine’s, it’s obvious very quickly that they are in the wrong place. Anyone who is sending out a Tweet to a person or business without knowing the proper name is – well – a dork. That’s the nicest thing I can think of to say. By the way – if you do a Google search for the words “Spin Twitter,” the first result is Spin Magazine’s account.
Look. If Eric were trying to scam their customers or gain followers, I could understand their issue. Were he attempting to impersonate someone then there would be a definite problem. But I honestly don’t see any evidence of him violating a trademark or hurting anyone at all. I think it’s ludicrous for a company to think they can bully someone like this into giving up a name they have a long history with. What are your thoughts?