Have a look around my site. I’m a criminal defense attorney. My website is designed to give ordinary people that are looking for information about criminal law what they want – information about the crimes they or their loved ones are facing.
But I’m also a human being.
One that happens to be a lawyer. And a consumer. And a small business owner.
I heard about a legal battle that two entrepreneurs find themselves in with a retail giant – Nordstrom. From an article on the Information Week website (as brought to my attention by law blogger Scott Greenfield), Nordstrom is using a clerical error as the basis for an all-out assault on a small business. Here’s the story:
Two women in Colorado began a clothing line and applied for a trademark through the US government’s Patent & Trademark office. They want to use the name “Beckons” for their yoga and lifestyle clothing line. After their application for a trademark on that name was filed, but not yet accepted, Nordstrom applied to the same office for use of the name “Beckon” as a Nordstrom brand. Nordie’s wanted to sell their own line of clothing and accessories under that name.
Call it an oversight. Call it governmental efficiency at its finest. Call it what you want, but somehow, the US Patent & Trademark office didn’t recognize that “Beckons” and “Beckon” – both lines of clothing – were so similar that whoever applied last should have their application rejected. What should have happened was a letter to Nordstrom saying in essence – day late, dollar short: a form of “Beckon” is taken. Try again.
But that didn’t happen. Nordstrom’s application to use “Beckon” was approved. Now, Nordstrom appears to be using that governmental error as the basis to bring the thunder of the Nordstrom legal department down on two women who just want to sell stretchy pants under the name they are rightfully entitled to.
You’ve got a legal department that has kept these two women busy, forcing them to rack up over $70,000 in legal bills to defend what they have, fair and square. You’re telling me you couldn’t have dumped a similar amount into coming up with an equally catchy name for your line of stretchy pants? Instead, you’re choosing to file suit. You’re choosing to try and drive two entrepreneurs out of business over a name. A word. A word that you should have never been approved to use in the first place.
I’m just one guy, and for the record, I do shop at Nordstrom. Well… at least I did. Take a look around. In case you hadn’t noticed, the good old U.S. of A. is in a bit of a financial pickle. I’ll admit your customer service is unparalleled. You sell upscale merchandise at upscale prices.
For my money, given this PR snafu, a tie from TJMaxx will suffice. Let me know when you want my business back. Beckon to me.