Pareto Efficient

In search of pareto improvements

Really? Cease-and-Desist. Come on…

with 2 comments

Well, we had a major milestone last week.  We were served with our very first Cease-and-Desist letter from the lovely lawyers at CouponCabin.com.

Having worked in the social media for a few years now, I’ve traded more than a few interesting emails with lawyers who request the removal of user generated content that allegedly infringes on their clients’ feelings.  Its common for NBC to request Youtube to remove pirated videos from their site, for example.  Its pretty simple, you just remove the content and get back to work.

However, this CouponCabin case appears to be more strategic and systematic.

Their Strategy:

They have arranged for merchants to issue special coupon codes for CouponCabin that acutally use their name “CouponCabin” in the code.  Then, they claim (see the letter below) that the republication of their name (trademarked of course) might confuse users.  Its totally bs, but its a genius strategy.

Their System:

We received a letter that referenced a coupon code: “COUPONCABIN-ALL5PER”.  We couldn’t find it on the site or in the db.  Weird, so we just ignored it.

Then, an hour later we received another letter referencing a different coupon code:  “COUPONCABIN08”. Clearly, their legal team is systematically searching Google for all certain codes and sending the letters to the site owners via WHOIS.

Really?  What’s the ROI on that effort?

  • Legal Assistants cost, what, $100/hr
  • Let’s say they can serve 1 letter every 10 mintues or 6/hour
  • If that’s true, then each letter costs $16.67
  • At the time of this writing, there were 197 results for a Google search for COUPONCABIN08 and
  • Let’s assume 80% unique violators…thats ($16.67 * (0.8*197)) = $2,627.92 to “protect” just one code
  • How many sites actually complied with the request? (we did, but we’re nice guys)

What could they do with the money?

  • They could have bought Adwords traffic for “coupon codes” at $1.17 per click and netted 2,200+ new users
  • They could have blown it on a really cool hot air ballon ride
  • We would’ve probably partially funded 100 Kiva Loans in Uganda, but I guess lawyers need work too…

What do you think?  Leave your comments in on this post.

The letter is below:

Re:  Infringement of CouponCabin, Inc.’s Intellectual Property Rights

Dear Sir or Madam:

CouponCabin, Inc. (“CouponCabin”) has adopted and used the trade name and the trademark “CouponCabin” and has established substantial goodwill in the mark.  In addition, an integral part of CouponCabin’s business model, in conjunction with CouponCabin’s merchant partners, includes the creation and use of unique Coupon Code Identifiers, which are published over the internet and enable consumers and vendors to identify CouponCabin’s offerings.

It has recently come to CouponCabin’s attention that you are using CouponCabin’s intellectual property on your website located at www.CouponGood.org in connection with similar on-line coupon offerings.  Your unauthorized use of the CouponCabin trademark in the coupon code “COUPONCABIN08” for PlayPhone is identical to that owned and used by CouponCabin in its advertising, promotion and general business operations is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception with regard to the source or sponsorship of the services offered by you.  Consequently, your use of CouponCabin’s intellectual property constitutes trademark infringement, dilution and unfair competition as prohibited by federal laws, including 15 USC ss. 1051, 1125, as well as various other federal and state statutes and common law.

Accordingly, CouponCabin hereby demands that you and any other business or person directly or indirectly affiliated with you immediately cease and desist from using any and all trademarks, service marks or trade names that are confusingly similar to those owned and used by CouponCabin, including but not limited to the coupon code “COUPONCABIN08” for PlayPhone.

Please confirm in writing no later than the close of business on September 26, 2008 that you agree to comply with the requests contained herein.  In the event that you do not agree to these demands, CouponCabin will take the appropriate steps to protect its rights, which will include referral of this matter to the legal counsel for enforcement of CouponCabin’s legal rights.  By such action, CouponCabin will seek to obtain injunctive relief, and the recovery of profits, treble damages, pre-judgment interest, costs and attorneys’ fees.

Domains by Proxy, Inc.
September 17, 2008
Page 2

Please be advised that CouponCabin expressly reserves all rights and remedies for the conduct identified herein.

Regards,

Scott Kluth

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Written by thetyson

September 27, 2008 at 8:48 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Total BS
    is it a legal extortion scheme carried by coupon cabin ???
    Tommarrow they will lay claim to CCOBAMA (confusingly similar)

    I think ACLU should take up this case

    Coupn Guy

    November 13, 2008 at 3:52 pm

  2. […] from their exclusive coupons that include their trademarked name. They have started to send cease and desist letters to those using their exclusives, or suing for […]


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