Almost from the get-go it seems that Deron was keen on trademarking the word “freecycle”, which it is stated time and time again is for the greater good. Now why is it that Deron is holding onto total control of TFN?
There is a very significant danger to the freecycling world that “should” the trademark be recognised then the power to control that word rests with one man. If for some unforeseen circumstance it was necessary for a company like WMI to somehow takeover the TFN business then they would de facto take over the trademark.
At this point the gifting economy, the freecycling world would no longer have access to that word. And that decision making power and control to decide rests right now with just one man. All I ask, is it right that that decision should rest with one man. Is it right that 4,000 group owner and moderator teams should have no say, no right to speak? Is it right that 4,000,000 members should similarly have no rights in such a matter?
The only protection TFN members, moderators, owners, volunteers have right now is Deron’s good will. Once any trademark assignment is made then TFN may have a very valuable asset and a company like WMI (though not necessarily WMI) might become very interested. All they then have to do is to go behind closed doors with Deron and work out how to effect the transfer – legally, and then sign papers.
Right now moderators do not even have a forum for debating this issue. Any such attempt on OIDG would be sat upon with an ADMIN notice. Any such repeated attempt would end up with the “Two strikes and you are out” rule being imposed without a second thought.
Well, I say unfortunately. I guess the result will be seen as unfortunate if you are one of TPTB in TFN. If however you are me, then in fact YOU WANT TO SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS.
The Freecycle Network did not just lose, but they lost on all counts. You can read more at the Ninth Circuit Blog in which is a link to the PDF that has the complete decision.
Thanks to the generosity of fcnext member Paul Hurteau, the word freecycling is offered to the world for free as a generic word, with absolutely no plans to trademark or copyright it. Thus this word is now in the public domain, as it has been at least since the start of The Freecycle Network, and thus no one else will be able to copyright or trademark it.
There is no doubt that TFN’s TPTB are on a campaign to improve the public perception of TFN. Unfortunately they always shoot themselves in the foot by doing something very unnatural in their posts. Take this one from People of the Web, for example:
“Congratulations Deron. What you have created for us Freecycle (TM) Members is amazing. I am proud to be a groups senior Moderator amongst being part of many other events with Freecycle (TM). Please keep up the good work! Folks, If you haven’t joined up to Freecycle (TM), Then your totally missing out! Give it a shot. Trust me, its worth the time!”
Now do you have time to read TM three times in one paragraph? I mean, how to put someone off an organisation in one fell swoop.
There is a more subtle clue as to this being a member of the core TPTB – they describe themselves as a “groups senior moderator.” Well, apart from the lack of an apostrophe I thought all moderators were equal, except for the owner.
The final clue is that it is posted anonymously.
Shame about this comment which sadly belittles what is in many ways both good press and a good article and video in favour of TFN.
In one piece of evidence (pdf) submitted on behalf of SunnyvaleFreecycle in paragraph 30 it is asserted that groups that did not have ErsatzFriend as a co-owner where therefore they were not trademark compliant. For these groups TFN filed an application to Yahoo and the group was deleted and Yahoo deleted the groups for not being trademark compliant.
Forgive me for being stupid but how on earth can the existence of an email address being a member of a group ever mean that a group is or is not trademark compliant? I thought that trademarks were to do with logos and brand names.
If I was part of the Yahoo team that acted many times on the existence of ErsatzFriend being deemed a reason for deleting groups I think I would be very concerned and would ask some questions.
TFN have formally asked that this evidence be rejected citing they did not know the person whose statement this is. Note they do not deny the evidence, their objection is purely procedural. Mind you even their “procedural” argument is debatable. The objection cites that there are many 1000’s of volunteers. However this person rose to the status of GOA. How many GOAs can there be? These must be in the 100’s if not less. And this particular volunteer was around for a long time so it is hardly as if he came one day and went the next.
You know you would think that after blogging this subject to death The Freecycle Network (TFN) would learn and work hard to promote the word freecycle as a noun occasionally. But no, it continues to promote the word “freecycling”. On the 13th September 2007 its very own website has an article called, “Freecycling By CORY HURLEY The Western Star.”
The mind boggles at the incredulity of an organisation that is supposedly attempting to trademark one word when they actively promote another in its place.
I am not sure you are doing your job properly. There are 1000’s of places showing groups, individuals and organisation are flagrantly abusing your trademark claim. If you want to outsource this work I can send out Cease and Desist letters for you. If you do this I can assure you that everyone who abuses your trademark will be challenged properly. If necessary I will allocate a team of people to send these out. This service will cost you nothing. You will receive a full list of places where Cease and Desist letters and emails are sent. Of course if either party are not happy with the service they can terminate it at any stage.
Benefits to TFN include:
- full challenging of any abuse of trademark
- no cost
- no volunteer effort required
- full monitoring of service
- independently audited
- immediate termination by either party
Can I say fairer than that! If you wish to take up this offer please do within the coming week from posting at which point I will close the offer. This is intended to demonstrate that this blog is acting as independently as humanly possible.