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The user is a rapidly evolving creature being defined by possibility.
opinions from the head lemur
[Posted] February 25, 2000

Internet Litigation Follies the next chapter

American Honda Motor Co,® is the latest automaker to enter the Internet Litigation Follies (ILF). Wired News reports that Honda isn't happy.


"On Wednesday, Schreiber found out that American Honda Motor Co., the company's U.S. arm, is suing him for trademark dilution, infringement, and cyberpiracy. The suit, filed in federal court for the Central District of California, seeks $100,000 in damage payments and a court order forcing Schreiber to transfer Honda.net and another domain, Hondacraft.com, to the auto company."

"Honda argues in the suit that it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting itself and should have the exclusive right to reap the profits from those efforts. The suit refers to Schreiber and the Web design firm he runs with his brother Tony as "quintessential cyberpirates," who registered the Honda sites "for the purpose of profiting from the sale of those domain names."

Source: Wired News

Looking at the webyte above, in the list of High Crimes and Misdemeanors, we see Trademark dilution. What trademark dilution? type styles are different, no stolen logos, no large photos of Hondas.

Infringement? On what ? The fact of life that a car is a mechanical contraption that requires care and feeding to last any length of time?

Cyberpiracy? see above. Your lawyers must be charging you by the word.

But then I'm not a lawyer and I see things a little differently.

Honda's case is the same tired crap we have seen replayed time and time again. You know, trademark infringment, cyber-piracy, brand dilution, and general whining about: It's Our product, Our company, and you just buy it, if you want to talk about it you need to talk to us, if you want to fix it you need to come to us and if we won't or can't fix it, we want you to buy another, so we can do it to you again!!

This lawsuit will probably not make the television news and if Honda lawyers have their way, it will just sail through the courts, like a parking ticket.
Honda is stepping into the same public relations nightmare that Ford created for themselves.

Whoops!

But on the web, you may have bitten off more than you can chew, or your lawyers can possibly litigate in your corporate lifetime.

If You are going to proceed with this lawsuit, you had better get a lot of money together. You may want to go to an every two year product schedule. A quick search of some of the more popular search engines produced Millions of pages.

A note here is in order. The results below are divided into 2 categories. Those that serve Honda banner ads and those that don't. Your lawyers will have to think about who they want to sue. After all, marketing is not going to be pleased when you start suing sites that serve banners ads, because they make reference to Honda.

You will probably piss-off your Advertising Agency, but who cares. They are breeding like rabbits. You can get another. Hell you can even hire me.
Nah. That won't work. I don't take meetings. But, I can Talk Trash though.

Getting deep isn't it? But Wait!! There's More!!

I haven't touched on Newsgroups, which have no editorial policies, controls or any other prohibitions on freedom of speech. Nor have I looked into the sites that people put up with the express purpose of voicing their particular grievances.

How to Lose Customers 101

You are suing a fan site. honda.net is about honda cars. Fan sites are built people for pursuing their passion, hobby or reason for living.

Here is a group of people who share tips, news, good and bad experiences about their cars. They get news, information, rumors and share it with each other.

The biggest reasons that cars sites are everywhere is that almost everybody owns a car, most people try to get them repaired without having to go to the bank for a loan. The dealers are real poor about making people welcome. This is not a Honda issue, this is an Industry issue.

The quickest way to promote ill-will and get less than favorable publicity for your products on the web is to play the lawsuit game. Marketing rules state that you make one customer unhappy they will tell 7 friends. You make someone unhappy with an Internet connection, you up the stakes by a couple orders of magnitude.

Removing the 'brown ring' from your neck

Since you have a product that people are building websites and newsgroups about, you would be better served by supporting these sites. After all, they are costing you nothing and providing you with marketing and business information you will not get anywhere else.

Unsolicited testimonials are the most powerful form of advertising available, and are costing you the price of an Internet Connection.

Pro or Con, you would be finding out what people think about your products and could be a better and more responsive company. Futhermore, you would have the opportunity to respond to comments, correct mis-information, become a pro-active company and save a whole bunch of money on lawyers.

The whole point of the internet and hypertext is to link and present information from whatever source for whatever reason. It is not just about selling stuff.

Search Results

Websites serving Honda Banner Ads

Yahoo search Search Result Found 86 categories and 1245 sites for honda
Alta Vista WEB PAGES About 925,307 pages found.
Infoseek Web search results 443,882 matches

Websites not serving Honda Banner Ads

Northern Light 566,641 items for: honda
HotBot WEB RESULTS more than 50,000
Google Google results 1-10 of about 119,000 for honda. Search took 0.05 seconds.
FAST Search 709418 documents found - 0.1733 seconds search time

References

Honda
Honda.net
Wired News: Honda isn't happy.

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