They're in radically different businesses so trademark damage will be hard to demonstrate...
..although bad phorm has a pretty terrible reputation, and that's likely to brush off onto good phorm.
It's come to our attention that "pimp my data" outfit Phorm may not have been as ground-breakingly creative as we'd have expected when knocking together its logo. The logos of Phorm design and Phorm Compare if you will the logo of Sheffield-based Phorm Design (top) with that of the world's favourite adware company. Quite …
I am not suprised by this at all, they wish to copy our data also under the flag of protecting us wouldnt trust the pimp firm an inch. He seems to have the moto what is yours is mine and what is mine is mine.. Time the ISPs took off the rose coloured glasses and saw this companies true colours..
Phorm anonymised Phorm Design's logo then allocated a cookie to it and redirected it a few times before they copied it...
So that makes it ok then... nothing illegal there... and, so what if it was illegal... as we're such an ethical and honest bunch at Phorm we can do what we like...
I wouldn't use that Sheffield company for fear of it being linked with (previously) 121 Media, purely because their branding is so similar. I view the logos to be so similar that it bring an image of a subsidiary company or franchise.
There you have it, proof that they are indeed similar from a customers' perspective. You can now sue them for loss of business, because i'd never, EVER deal with a company I thought REMOTELY linked to Phorm (advertising).
work if they do take them to court. With the sheer volume of negative publicity surrounding Phorm (Data Whores), a very-similar logo could be argued as having a negative impact on Phorm Design, and thus leave Phorm Design with a case for damages (lost revenue - potential clients assume that they are connected with Phorm (the Big Bitches) and thus take their business elsewhere).
I've seen court cases succeed on flimsier grounds than that!
however, even though I want to scream "SUE THEM" it would have to go to a court of law.
While there is no doubt that the logo is derived from the earlier Phorm there are enough differences that mean they could get away with it. The font is different as are the treatment of the letterforms (i've just had a play with them in photoshop). They've got a decent designer to take the original Phorm logo and morph it just enough to make any legal comeback in doubt.
PH 'cos she knows her logo's
I'm sorry to say that I would certainly have been confused if I had seen that logo on the side of an office of a company with the same name. I would have assumed that they were related, possibly through acquisition, and as a result would have warned people I knew, to stay well away from them.
I think therefore, it is quite reasonable to assume that there could have been collateral damage to the "good" Phorms reputation.
Well it appears K*nt's company are setting a 'Gold Standard' in breaches of trust, morals & decent business practice. but then parasites like K*nt have been selling iron pyrite since gold rushes began!
If I was a designer in Sheffield I'd be undertaking a re branding exercise and stinging K*nt & co for the costs & dephormation of your business name!
By looking at the logo from good phorm, and i know it's very small but hasn't it got the little (r) under the o. If this is true then does it mean that phorm is a registered trademark of phorm design. Because if that is true couldn't they sue bad phorm for trade mark infringement with in the uk.
Also i agree that if i was sent a letter from good phorm about something then i would automatically associate it with bad phorm.
Paris:- because she couldn't tell the difference between good and bad
If you recall the battle of the apples, that only became an issue when apple (guess which!) started operating in the music industry.
If they are in distinct businesses or geographically separated then it's not normally a problem, thus bob the butcher and bob the builder don't have a trademark dispute.
If you want design work done are you going to accidentally give your business to bad phorm?
If you want a creepy snooping possibly criminal wiretap done are you accidentally going to give your business to good phorm?
I suggest a name change, good phorm to erm.. "good phorm" - the pun still works see.. and bad phorm to "Nosey wiretapping possibly criminal scum suckers from hell". Should sort out the too quite nicely.
This is the Phorm modus operandi.
Steal valuable content from people who take time to design and create it, and use the keywords obtained to advertise third party sites.
And assume the consent of the creator, because its waaay too difficult to actually bother asking for permission before you gorge on the juicy luscious forbidden fruit.
If content creators don't want to splatter ads their content? They get ripped off and exploited, but that's ok because Simon Watkin @ Home Office says so. The consent of the creative types can be assumed.
Complain to your MP, and get these evil chimps stopped.
... if the story about them paying for the phorm domain name is true, then they must have been doing some searching around the internet to see who else was there. It would be very hard to prove that they had not seen phorm design's logo during their travels.
Coincidence ? - unlikely.
Thinking about Apple v Apple isn't very helpful here - Apple Corps (the Beatles lot) first sued Apple Computer (as was) in the late 70s. The only reason that Apple Computer entering the music industry made it all flare up again was that they'd agreed not to enter the music business as part of the first settlement.
Unfortunate for the design company though, since even if they win they'll probably want to change their logo. Even if they stop the data-pimpers from (mis)using it, the association is now too strong to go away.
About as unfortunate as if you'd started a company called Swastika Designs in 1930. :-(
Good Phorm have taken the trouble to register their trademark and have used the little R symbol. This gives them quite a lot of protection under the law - with one proviso (see below)
Bad Phorm have chosen to use the weaker TM on their logo. Anyone who wants to assert a trademark can include the TM. It does not need to be registered and no money changes hands. HOWEVER in exchange for being cheap, courts are unlikely to be sympathetic when that trademark comes into conflict with a registered mark.
There's an obvious risk of confusion - 'Phorm' is not a word in the dictionary (which is one defence out of the window - you could start a company called Apple and still be protected) and both companies are in the Internet business (which would be a problem if your Apple startup was a computer company).
If I was Good Phorm, I'd love to know how Bad Phorm can claim to have independently hit upon their logo design - right down to the font. That takes coincidence too far.
So the name and the logo of Bad Phorm could, and should, be seen as a case of 'passing off'.
Actually Good Phorm *MUST* defend their trademark. If they choose not to do so in this case, their mark is in danger of become genericised, in which case *anyone* can use it. Good Phorm need to talk to their lawyers as a matter of urgency and get them issue a cease and desist order against Bad Phorm ordering them withdraw their logo and cease trading under that name.
Bad Phorm can claim an innocent error, even blame their designers who may be liable for any costs of infringement. In any case it'd make sense for them to withdraw the logo and the name as they'd almost certainly lose in court.
And if Good Phorm they need money, I'm willing to throw in a £20 to the Register defence fund.
I think it should also be noted that Good Phorm are also claiming copyright on the whole of their web page, therefore including their logo. More grist to their mill.
BUT ... I've just been for a look at www.companieshouse.gov.uk and followed the WebCheck link. I searched for "Phorm". As I expected, I found the two registrations for Phorm UK Inc, a couple of branch offices of the outfit from Delaware. I also found a Phorm Designs Ltd with a Registered Office in the Fulham High Street.
As I am unwilling to pay for the detailed file I am not certain that they are different from the Sheffield team, but it seems likely.
Alas, the waters get muddier the more you look!
Maybe not. If Phorm Design don't defend their IP then it can be shown that they didn't and they may well lose the right to defend it in the future. This may indeed be "implied consent." IANAL but I think a cease and desist letter would be the bare minimum.
If stories of Phorm's past are accurate (and I have no reason to suspect they aren't) then they may just have stolen the logo with either the assumption that they have more money and will win or that the small guy won't have enough resources to even take them on. To them the legal action, if any, may just be a cost of business.
This one isn't going to just go away. If the phorm.com site is hosted in the US a DMCA takedown notice might do something. It also might get the poor guy from Sheffield sued. Do Phorm UK have any money? It's all well and good Phorm Design taking them on but if they've been set up to lose money on paper and all the cash is in the US operation can they be touched?
Another thought... The font they used. I wonder if Phorm can demonstrate that the have a legitimate license for that font from the maker. If they've just lifted it then the font house would have a legitimate copyright complaint against them.
On BadPhorm, we were aware of this several weeks ago. On 14th March, I posted:
"I used to be in a six-person company called XYZ Ltd. (Not really XYZ, but that will protect their privacy). We'd been going for about 8 years, a small fish in a small pond, when a reporter called us up to ask about our involvement with the (Government) Department of Something-Or-Other's new XYZ initiative, which they were rolling out bigtime across the UK.
Not us, we said, and thought no more about it. But after the third reporter had called us, we got worried. When we talked to our solicitor, he was clear that even though we were XYZ Ltd and this was just a scheme called XYZ, they were infringing our rights. And worse, that if we did nothing, then once this scheme was widely public, they could (and probably would) come back and stop us using our name, on the grounds we were passing off.
Accordingly, our small provincial solicitor wrote a letter to the Department concerned, setting out our position, notably our claim to prior usage.
Back came a six-page reply from the biggest name in intellectual property protection, very serious London law firm heavyweights. The first five pages huffed and puffed, but on the sixth page they blew their own house down, instead of ours, and announced that the initiative would be choosing a new name. No conditions, no non-disclosure, no gagging clause; just total and utter capitulation.
You probably know that initiative - it appears in the press all the time - but I'm not going to name it.
The letter cost us £600, but this was peanuts compared to losing and having to change all our business paperwork, product documentation, and the sign outside our door, etc.
So if you guys at Phorm Design are watching (and I'm told you are), then make no mistake:
(i) you need to act unless you want to lose your company name;
(ii) Phorm may claim that no-one could accuse them of passing-off as you, but that isn't the issue;
(ii) you should expect to win, and relatively cheaply.
If you want to know any more, leave a message here, and I'll get in touch about this."
But they didn't :-(
Paris Hilton, as she could easily be conphused with a French hotel.....
'Creative' types tend to have actually quite a small stock collection of ideas (they aren't nearly as innovative as they like to think), and this coupled with the natural conservatism of many clients who buy designs tend to force a particular appearance. I notice that this appearance often dates quite fast BTW, as new 'ideas' slowly trickle into the design gene pool, then out again.
I've got this great idea! I'm going to start a web search service with a ranking system to match pages to queries. I'll call it Goggle (you know, like looking for something).
I need a logo. I think I'll design a logotype based on a serif typeface. Hey! I could colour each character differently - a blue one, a red one, a yellow one, another blue, a green one, another red...
Then I will sell out to K(u)nt Etrugul because he loves a rip-off.
PS. How's your share price, you spiv?
The Register has just posted and article about 'ComScore', a really very nasty bit of work that puts Phorm in the shade. Read all about here.
After reading this, you will really want to check for and remove any instances of this abomination as a matter of urgency. Apparently it will even obtain all the details of your online banking activity, for example.
Ugh! Is this the future? Yes, but it's already here!
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