EDITOR: | June 15th, 2016 | 19 Comments

Intel v. InvestorIntel: Corporate Bullying by any other name is still bullying.

| June 15, 2016 | 19 Comments
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i_hangOn February 18, 2016, the microchip maker Intel Corporation served notice to InvestorIntel that InvestorIntel encroaches on Intel’s trademark by using “intel” in its name (see below letter). According to Gowlings, the law firm representing Intel, the Intel of InvestorIntel is confusing to customers who seek to buy computer microchips or software.

Seriously you ask? Yes, seriously.

Tracy Weslosky, Publisher of InvestorIntel, “This blows my mind. Since launch, our site server averages 7-9 million plus hits, 250,000 plus unique visitors and over 945,000 pages are read each month. Not a single person has mistakenly contacted us seeking microchips or asked whether we have any connection to Intel Corporation.”

Apparently, it is a common practice by Intel to go after anyone who uses “#####” in its trademark as a corporate hygiene measure, claiming the efforts are to prevent confusion among investors and consumers. Intel has gone after yoga studios, jeans manufacturers, website creators…and this time: InvestorIntel.

InvestorIntel is a Canadian corporation run by a well-known Toronto entrepreneur, a single mother – she employs her son, and a couple of dozen contractors worldwide. Having invested millions in branding InvestorIntel.com since going live with it in 2012, Tracy feels overwhelming resistance to the instruction of Intel’s counsel to “just” change the name of her site and her company, InvestorIntel Corp., or allow the dozens of domains she has with various versions of InvestorIntel to “just” expire.

According to the below letter, Intel will stop its ludicrous bullying if Tracy meets those demands. How magnanimous it that? The matter will be resolved amicably if Tracy does precisely as Intel demands!

Intel is infamous for being overly aggressive in so-called trademark enforcement. It has drawn a broad circle in the sand around the word #### to such extent that it is impossible to have an #####igent conversation with them, even if it is completely not germane to the microchip business or other areas in which Intel Corporation claims to have an interest.

Intel’s attitude and tactics suggest a return to feudal systems like in Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth” where serfs were at the mercy of barons, the barons at the at the mercy of earls, and the earls at the mercy of the king. The system was rigged so that the little guy always lost.

Do consumers confound the operating system Windows, a trademark of Microsoft, with manufacturers of actual windows? Of course not… that would be absurd. I have yet to see anyone trying to load a bay window into a disk drive.

Confusion, in this case, is solely in the eye of the beholder: Intel.

Common decency should prevail. Otherwise we have slipped back to the middle ages and we might as well forget the past 500 years of history and adopt a “corporate feudal system” where we all are at the whims of corporate royalty and their legal representatives.

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Comments

  • Grant Sawiak

    We seem to have started with schoolyard bullying, regressed to cyber bullying and now regressed even further to corporate bullying in an instance where there is no reasonable possibility of confusion between the respective names. Kudos to Intel and Gowlings for leading the charge down the ladder of legal and corporate morality. It would be interesting to start a blog and see how many other companies Intel and Gowlings have tried to harass and then publish all those names; now that’s the type of publicity money just can’t buy!

    June 14, 2016 - 8:20 PM

  • Carlo

    Pathetic in so many ways. I have always used Intel, but my next piece of hardware will be AMD powered I expect.

    June 14, 2016 - 10:13 PM

  • Graeme

    Why would anyone not in the microprocessor business want to pass themselves off as the rapacious firm known as “#####?” “#####” has the dubious reputation of being sued by its employees, for among other things, breach of fiduciary duty in pension investments, age discrimination in corporate layoffs, and were “settling defendants” in 2015 in a class action lawsuit that alleged violations of US anti-trust laws, while still denying such actions. No one in their right mind, not in the microprocessor business would want to associate themselves with a business that could only reflect poorly on themselves, such as “#####.” But since their legal hirelings say in theirofficious letter their client wishes to settle things amicably, I suggest that you take them up on their most kind and magnanimous offer.
    I suggest that “#####” make a goodwill payment to Investorintel of $100 million Canadian dollars, such as to allow the company to comply with their overreaching and bullying requests. Allowing Investorintel to rebrand itself and publicise that rebranding to mitigate any loss to Investorintel. All excess funding from “#####’s” goodwill payment to be donated to the people and the City of Fort McMurry, to help them recover from the recent wild fire.

    I am sure a firm as generous and magnanimous as “#####,”ranked #56 on the 2015 rankings of the world’s most valuable brands published by Millward Brown Optimor, wouldn’t baulk at such an opportunity to help their fellow Canadian citizens, in their time of need, and might actually be willing to go a little higher than $100 million Canadian. Perhaps their legal eagles could sound out their client on just how generous they would be willing to be to their unfortunate fellow citizens in Fort McMurray.

    June 15, 2016 - 1:21 AM

  • hackenzac

    Those bastards! You should counter by developing a 4 note piano jingle.

    June 15, 2016 - 2:02 AM

  • Graeme

    John
    An excellent link. I hope that Canada’s trade mark law follows along on similar lines. Even if it doesn’t, #####.s parent is HQ’d in La la land, which is still a part of the USA, which would allow cases from the USA to be cited with influencing effect, if not binding. With ##### becoming a “settling defendent” in a serious US anti-trust case last year, and absolutely no connection between Investorintel and the microchip industry, there is absolutely no sense in a financial intelligence website, where probity, impartiality, and integrity is vital, in seeking to pass itself off as being connected to “tainted” goods, so to speak. ##### risks losing and setting a bad precedent, in the process attracting a lot of attention to ####’s legal track record.

    June 15, 2016 - 7:56 AM

  • Jeff Thompson

    A shame that so many lawyers choose to become no better than parasites, living off of the hard work of the productive members of society, instead of applying their logic and reasoning skills towards something that improves society. We’d all be better off if the parasitic lawyer types had chosen to become mathematicians or computer programmers instead.

    June 15, 2016 - 8:37 AM

  • Marc

    Well, in simple terms and no emotion, you are pretty well stuffed. I would suggest you call Vince McMahon, CEO and Chairman of a much larger corporation, the WWE. Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment used to be Worldwide Wrestling Federation and had been for years, more than yours. However, a new kid on the block WWF, World Wildlife Federation applied for the TM and registration and bam! McMahon had to change all his branding and all his links to everything. WWE had a substantially larger position, more money in the bank, jada, jada jada…and Vince did the smart thing, he made a subtle change and avoided the pain of a major loss and saved millions of dollars to lawyers, which was a further waste of effort and money. Indignation won’t win any battles. So how about that Lithium movement…..

    June 15, 2016 - 8:39 AM

  • Stephanie B.

    I will not be buying anything Intel again. When doing a search, there are many companies they have gone after and destroyed since early 2000. They have also gone after anyone who dares to make a competing product. I saw many more besides the Yoga charity Intel has bullied. The government needs to stop this greedy company. The Yoga charity did not use “Intel” but used “Inside” which is Intel’s motto. This country would fall apart if companies like Home Depot and Windows did similar. “Intel” is short for intelligence. The US military uses the word, “Intel”, often so they need to go after them. Would love to see Intel pick on someone closer to their size.

    June 15, 2016 - 9:58 AM

  • jeff stufsky

    One would have thought that the obviously and materially different types of businesses, and logos, and elapse of time renders Intel’s claim intellectually specious. While trademark law is dense, it seems a stretch that the out-of-context use of a syllable in InvestorIntel coupled with Intel’s manufacture of computer chips to facilitate all types of research and analysis (“in the box”) compared to InvestorIntel’s forum for the direct production and exchange of certain types of financial information (out of the box) is a winning argument. Good luck in your defense against the 800 lb. gorilla. I suspect your service will be read regardless of outcome.

    June 15, 2016 - 10:08 AM

  • Fred Cowans

    John, your comment reminded me of the expression “pour encourager les autres” from Voltaire’s Candide. It was famously applied to the execution in 1756 of British Admiral John Byng. It seems Byng, sent to the Med to protect the strategic Island of Minorca from the French, withdrew to the safety of Gibralter rather than engage.
    In this case, the punishment was far in excess of any possible military misconduct and hence the irronic use of the expression today. Gowlings would do well in my opinion to suggest an “amicable” financial offer if they truly feel the public is confused and do not want to create a martyr.

    June 15, 2016 - 10:11 AM

  • Lara Smith

    I like Graeme’s idea of having Intel pay for the rebranding. Please Tracy don’t forget your editors when carving up your new found fortune.

    June 15, 2016 - 10:30 AM

  • Doug Mckern

    InverstorIntel and Investorintel yield essentially the same search results. Investorintel is a word, which does not connote the squid Intel. If you decide to fight perhaps you could crowd source the funds through getting the domain name http://www.fuckyouintel.com and using the money and publicity, you get through crowd source, to shame intel into a compromise. No matter what, this is a huge time dump for someone who has spent so much time to create a wonderful site for us all. Good luck Tracy. Please let us know if there is anything we can do.

    June 15, 2016 - 10:50 AM

  • RareEarthKing

    I agree with Intel here, you should change your name to avoid confusion.

    June 15, 2016 - 10:55 PM

  • Peter Clausi

    So, Paul Allen, founder of Microsoft and Intel: co-producer of the Girl Rising about girls from different parts of the world who seek an education. Over $2.1 million has been donated as a result of this film to help girls worldwide receive an education. So your response to female entrepreneurs like Ms. Weslosky is …. ? What are you going to tell the sequel?

    June 16, 2016 - 12:57 PM

  • George Byers

    Has anyone lately seen that Advanced Micro Devices has been sued by Microsoft using this same lame argument? Of course not – perhaps because Microsoft has both a brain and a heart and respects the abundant common sense of people everywhere who use their products.

    Tracy, your third para at the top (with the stats) should be in any brief you may have to file (and all of us hope you don’t have to go that far).

    June 16, 2016 - 1:03 PM

  • ann bridges

    Intel has always been aggressive in its business practices. What confuses me somewhat is that they think they can trademark a common abbreviation of the common term “intelligence” in such a broad set of industries outside the computer world & their branding efforts. Maybe you should ask the CIA to follow a countersuit on both your behalf, since apparently an arm of the US government might choose to use the term “intel” in its press releases–wait! It already does! I’m pretty sure there’s also BusinessIntel in the Financial Services industry, and probably many more.

    On a serious note, they DIDN’T trademark InvestorIntel, they trademarked Intel. Doesn’t sound like they have a case, but if you want me to reach out to SilVal attorneys eager to take on Intel, let me know.

    Maybe there’s a link to what you cover as a threat to Intel, and that’s behind this bullying. If others are more expert in technology investing than they, they can no longer use ignorance to command investment dollars or market dominance.

    June 16, 2016 - 4:19 PM

  • Robin Bromby

    If you do change the name, for goodness sake don’t make it InvestorInsight — or else General Pants will be after you, because they have a male clothing range called Insight, and your new name would confuse all those young guys who walk into clothing stores.

    Sound ridiculous? Of course, but not too much more ridiculous than what is happening today in the trademark space.

    June 16, 2016 - 5:54 PM

  • Byron King

    How lovely of Intel to offer to settle amicably, as long as you roll over, play dead, do exactly what they demand and obey their diktat. One of these days, big corps will copyright/trademark everything in the entire dictionary. We’ll have to pay them a license to be able to speak beyond guttural sounds — go back to cave-man talk. In essence, we’ll all just have to shut up and not make trouble. Of course, that’s the globalist, big-biz idea of a perfect world, right?

    June 17, 2016 - 12:24 PM

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