We learned tonight from James Yu’s blog that Utah software engineer and professional genealogist Matt Misbach has posted a letter online that appears to be from an Indianapolis law firm representing Digg.com. The letter demands that Misbach immediately stop using the trademarked name Digg on his site DiggGames.com. Misbach used that site to highlight flash games he found on the front page of Digg and says he thought he was only fueling Digg’s popularity. He was profiting from ads on the site, is that what you’d call part of the long tail? I suppose there’s nothing in the long tail theory about riding the coat-tails of some one else’s domain name. Still, if this is true it strikes me as at least foreboding if not a mistake.
The letter, which is posted in PDF format on DiggGames.com, was dated August 17th. Misbach has since moved his site over to the much less exciting domain Games1.org. There are many other sites online that use the Digg name and it will be interesting to see what the Digg founders have to say about this instead of just their lawyers. Or perhaps it’s all a fraud to get…on the front page of Digg. We await comment. (Update again: here’s Digg founder Kevin Rose on the matter.)
Update: As Alex Bosworth points out in comments below, US law demands action by trademark holders demonstrating defense of trademarks they claim an exclusive commercial right to or they risk losing their right to claim exclusive commercial rights later. Look out other Digg related sites! This may be another indictment of US intellectual property law more than of over zealous lawyers. Or it may be perfectly reasonable, I haven’t made up my mind yet. It does seem like a shame, though, as Misbach’s site seems to provide a valuable service.