Apparently Only eHarmony Is The eHarmony Of eHarmony

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As long-time readers are likely aware, from time to time we get legal threats (or potential legal threats) sent our way. But instead of running off to go cower in a corner, we like to post these threats — particularly when they’re ridiculous. And most of them are just that. Take this week, for example.

In this past week alone, we’ve gotten not one but two emails from two different companies on the same issue: brand and trademark usage in our headlines and articles. The two companies in question, TV Guide and eHarmony, don’t like us using their names as frames of reference for other products and/or services.

In other words, they’re saying we can’t use a headline like “XXXXX is the eHarmony of YYYYY”. And they’re also saying that in our articles, we can’t compare other products to their’s (or at least, we can’t use their name if we do it).

Yes, seriously.

Now, I’m not a lawyer (Mike is, but this wasn’t his field, specifically), but come on — it’s true that companies have to protect their trademarks and brands, but this is just silly. We consider this to be fair use. It would be one thing if Clicker said on their site that they’re the “TV Guide for the web”, but they don’t, for obvious reasons.

But there should be no reason why we can’t say that. And so we’ll continue to, because such comparisons often help put things in perspective for our readers.

Below, find the emails sent our way. Note that only the eHarmony one is actually from their legal department. TV Guide merely “requests” that we “correct” our story. Obviously, we’re not going to do that.

TV Guide:

TV Guide brand correction request on your Clicker.com story

Hi Leena,

I’m writing from TV Guide to request a correction/update to your earlier post on Clicker.com’s acquisition by CBS. In both the headline and lead paragraph, the TV Guide brand and trademark are used to describe Clicker’s services. I’m hoping you’ll be able to correct this online.

Thanks in advance, and please let me if you have any questions.

Regards,

Leslie Furuta

Vice President, Communications

TV Guide Network & TVGuide.com

eHarmony:

Genericization of “eHarmony” trademark

Hello,

On February 18, 2011, TechCrunch correspondent Leena Rao published an article entitled “RoundPegg Raises $1.27 Million To Be The eHarmony For Jobs.”  While we appreciate the reference to our business and matching technology that were intended to be communicated via the title, I’m sure you can appreciate that such use of our eHarmony brand can lead to genericization of the brand, thereby affecting the goodwill and other intangible trademark rights we have so heavily invested in.

From that perspective, we ask that TechCrunch refrain from using the eHarmony brand in any way that would compare other companies’ products to that of ours, especially when it comes to their matching technology or algorithm (e.g. “eHarmony of ___________”).

Thanks for your attention to this matter.

Best Regards,

Steve

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Steve S. Nikkhou || Sr. Director, Legal Affairs || eHarmony, Inc.