Zen Fireflies Arise After Web site was Stolen

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If you have ever created something from nothing you are a true artist and you are most likely familiar with the feeling of contented satisfaction. Mix that with the excitement of being a powerful creator, and you may feel like this is your destiny. Whether it is a child, an oil painting, or a novel it is as if you are presenting a little bit of you to the world.

The same feeling applies if you have created your own Web site. Particularly, if you have introduced an absolutely unique and patented product on this Web site. The web is such a wonderful window to the world. Reaching millions upon millions of people, what could be a better place to show off your “baby?”

Hold on, though. Before you get too excited, I urge you to take some very important precautions. If you were taking your baby home from the hospital, would you make sure that some details are in place first? Of course, you would! You probably would get yourself a crib, some disposable diapers, formula, a car seat, etc.

Well, you should have an appropriate safety checklist for your Web site, as well. You will need certain details taken care of to protect your site from the greedy, unseen predators that stalk around cyberspace. If you don’t you could wind up losing what you spent so much time and money to build.

How do I know? Because it recently happened to me. So before you do anything else, stop, and read this very carefully. I am here to give you a heads up when it comes to protecting your Web site.

I manufacture and distribute an electronic fireflies product with my partner, Mark. Since 2003 we have sold this cool gadget as “a certain name.” In 2004 another Web site popped up selling their version of the electronic firefly. Their fireflies are stagnant lights that only blink and do not move (like Christmas lights on their last legs). For their uninspired product, they selected a url that was similar to the one that we were using at the time. This was fine with us, we just looked at it as healthy competition and we felt that our product was uniquely different (our fireflies actually moved), so we would always have a healthy flow of customers.

So what does our competition do? Five years later ( in January 2008) this business trademarks the exact name that we are using to sell our product. They proceed to hire a lawyer, and file a claim to have our Web site transferred to them. This unscrupulous business was not content with their current profitable situation, they wanted more and they were determined to take it.

Not once did they try to contact us in the five years we have been online. The only communication they initiated to us was to inform us that they were planning on stealing our Web site. We filed the response ourselves (lawyers cost too much!) to the National Arbitration Forum, confident with our overwhelming evidence. This was probably not wise, since their lawyer was obviously much more schooled in the domain registry law lingo. This was our second mistake. Our first mistake was not having our name trademarked from the get-go. We were naive to think that there were such unethical predators slinking around. We lost our PR 4 Web site and now our customers are left not knowing where to find us. Despite all that, we have bounced back under a new name … and yes, it is trademarked.

Do not let this happen to you. Keep in mind that Mark and I had our original Web site protected under copyright laws since 2003. We clearly used the name that our competitors wound up stealing from us, this is why we did not think we needed a lawyer. Copyright laws clearly state, material that is marked as copyrighted is protected. Under these federal laws, the descriptive works (whether is fireflies or socks) is yours, and no one has the right to take that from you. This is why we did not hire a lawyer … clearly we would win. Well, we did not. Apparently a trademark trumps a copyright, even if it is implemented in an unethical way.

When things like this happen, I always try to look at the bright side. I know our loyal customers will find us and karma will take care our greedy competitors (can’t escape the law of attraction!). And I also know whoever reads this article will spread the word, and learn from our unfortunate mistakes. Be prosperous and keep safe.


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