Amazon apparently feels that they own the word “Fire”

July 24, 2014
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Amazon Fire Phone KomoNews

This site has discussed patent trolls a number of times. Now, it is time to give some love to trademark trolls. In the last few months, we have seen a company trademark “candy” and then sue others who used the word “candy” on their sites/products.

Now, we have Amazon suing those with the word “fire” on their site. Over the last few months, Amazon has released a Fire Phone, Fire tablet and Fire TV. So, it makes perfect business sense for Amazon to file for an “Amazon Fire” trademark. Amazon also filed and received the trademark for the word “Fire” by itself.

Amazon lawyers are therefore going through the internet and finding sites that Amazon feels infringe on their trademark. As Ars Technica notes, the owner of fireTVnews.com was told by Amazon that he had seven days to turn over the domain to Amazon because it contains an Amazon trademark.

“I naively thought Amazon was nicer than your average mega corporation and registered the domain anyway. Lesson learned. It would have been nice if they gave me more than 7 days, or at least given me a way to contact them. Instead, I’m supposed to give them the domain release information through their standard ‘Contact Us’ form. I’m just one guy with a small blog and a few loyal readers, so I wont be fighting their request. This website will continue, but under a different name and URL. I will post the new website information shortly. I hope everyone reading this will stick around and not get lost in the move.” - Ars Technica

With just 84 twitter followers, it is good that Amazon acted quickly to squash this huge rival. The owner of fireTVnews has since moved to AFTVnews.com, gave up its Facebook page, and changed its Twitter handle as well.

US08676045-20140318-D00000 Source url

In January, Amazon made news when it patented taking photos with a white background. Nevermind that people have been doing this for decades. Amazon claimed that they filed this patent to protect what it called its “go-to snapshot” for products on the site.

After the story with fireTVnews, let’s hope Amazon doesn’t enforce their photo patent with the same broad brush.

Comments

  • Marcellus1

    Wow. Slow news day already? If they have a trademark on “Fire TV” and someone uses “firetv” in the name “firetvnews”, you don’t think they should be able to enforce it? It’s not like it was just “fire news”. Would you just throw trademarks out altogether? You clearly feel that way about patents–guess you didn’t pay attention to the comments from educated people when the “taking pictures with a white background” patent made the news a couple months back. It’s not as simple as what you’re setting it out to be and you’re ignoring all of the critical details that led to the idea being patent eligible.

    • Marcellus1

      As an additional note, a lot of companies protect their marks against marks that are deemed too similar and the USPTO allows for trademark families. As a result you have things like “i”+ phone, pad, pod, mac for Apple; “Mc” + chicken, double, nuggets for McDonalds. You have companies like Cytosport going after anyone that uses “milk” in the name of anything like a protein shake due to their “muscle milk” trademark. These companies all enforce their marks, and they have to if they want to be able to protect it–without enforcement, they run the risk of it becoming generic and losing the ability to differentiate their name and products from others. Maybe you would prefer a world where all your fast food restaurants used the golden arches and every item on the menu was a mc+something or other?

      • http://www.androidauthority.com/author/wneilsonjr/ William Neilson Jr.

        “Becoming Generic” is a common phrase used by those wanting to sue anyone and everyone and has been repeatedly debunked by judges and courts.

        Note, I am not saying a trademark can’t become generic…I am saying that a company doesn’t lose it because they don’t sue anyone and everyone. Myth.

        https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/11/trademark-law-does-not-require-companies-tirelessly-censor-internet

        • Marcellus1

          Even so, dilution is another real issue, which may be the source of the complaint here. Under trademark law, dilution occurs either when unauthorized use of a mark “blurs” the “distinctive nature of the mark” or “tarnishes it.” 15 U.S.C §§ 1127, 1125(c).

          • http://www.androidauthority.com/author/wneilsonjr/ William Neilson Jr.

            Yes, and if Amazon allowed companies to make their own products with the trademark and have them become nationally successful, the dilution and blur would occur.

            Having a site use it doesn’t even slightly cause either.

          • Guest 123

            What do you think you are doing? Bringing your rational reasoned fact based logic in here!

    • http://www.androidauthority.com/author/wneilsonjr/ William Neilson Jr.

      They don’t have a “Fire TV” trademark. They have a “Fire” trademark. Big difference.

      http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId=200738910&tag=androidcentralb-20&m1k=d_ac

      • Marcellus1

        Thanks for the correction. I was going off what it seemed the article was saying. It looks like Amazon actually has two fire trademarks, one on devices (http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4807:7141k9.4.153) and one on telecommunications (e.g., the internet) (http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4807:7141k9.4.154). The point still stands though. A trademark rightly allows people to prevent others from using the mark to avoid dilution. In this case, the site was not only using “fire” but “fire tv” which is one of Amazon’s products and they rightly have a strong interest in not having their customers believe it is associated with their product.

  • Shark Bait

    stupid cave man not putting a trade mark application in for his fire invention, he could be a millionaire by now!!

  • know the law

    If you new the law this firetvnews.com would fall under the fair use clause because 1 it is commentary, and 2 its news. Both of which fall under fair use because of the first amendment.

    • Marcellus1

      Fair use in trademark law is a little bit different than fair use in copyright law and involves two types of fair use. One is classic fair use and the other is nominative use.

      “Classic” fair use comes into play when the mark at issue has a clearly understood descriptive meaning. The rationale is that the trademark owner should not be permitted to deprive competitors and others of the ability to use words that are legitimately needed to describe their products or services. In this case, you would need to ask whether firetvnews legitimately needs to use the word “fire” or possibly even the words “fire tv” to describe their products or services. If not, they lose the classic fair use case.

      Nominative use occurs when a third party uses someone else’s trademark not to describe its own products or services but to refer to the actual trademark owner or identify a product or service of the trademark owner. To qualify as nominative fair use, the use must accurately refer to the owner of the trademark or the goods or services sold under the trademark— it cannot be misleading or defamatory; the use must not imply any endorsement or sponsorship by the trademark owner; there should be no easier way to refer to the owner or its products; and only so much of the trademark can be used as is needed to identify the trademark owner and no more. Whether Amazon could prove this is nominative use or not is debatable and would likely come down to a question of whether there was an easier way to refer to the owner or its products or whether more of the mark was used than was needed.

      As an aside, I do find it humorous that the owner of firetvnew.com, now aftvnews.com, also has the domain thedevicewhichshallnotbenamed.com which also directs to the same site.

    • derp hurr-durr

      Nao if only yew new how to spell knew.

  • -_-

    Guess the whole world will have to give over to Amazon cause of this Fire crap. Fire Depts are no more. Gonna be… Flame Departments are something. Flamefighters instead of Firefighters. I used to like Amazon but all this Fire Phone crap and now their hard on for the word Fire is really annoying…

  • John Conatser

    maybe they should sue the owner of that river that has the balls to name itself after their company!

  • Mike Newitt

    I don’t know if anyone brought this up, but Marvel and DC jointly “own” the term Superhero for comic books.

  • Aa

    New version of Flamefox browser is coming lol.

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