Start-ups use “shaming” to fight trademark infringement claims

Smaller companies are using websites, social media to battle expensive suits

 Phil Michaelson found himself embroiled in a modern-day David and Goliath story last year when his web cookbook,, came under fire for trademark infringement, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The complaint centered on his website’s use of a “keep” button that allowed users to save recipes. A New York-based site called AdKeeper, which allows users to “keep” ads by clicking a button, thought that Michaelson’s website constituted trademark infringement, and sent him a cease-and-desist letter.

Unable to afford a costly legal battle, but unwilling to alter his website, Michaelson posted the letter on The web site, a joint project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and seven university law schools, aims to protect online activity from overreaching intellectual property claims. A group of lawyers eventually offered to represent Michaelson at no cost after seeing his letter, but no claim was ever filed.

Alanna Byrne

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