|By PR Newswire||
|August 19, 2014 09:32 AM EDT||
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Facebook's Instagram is lawyering up to attack tiny SF-based startup Evergram.com for using the word "gram" in its name. The case, Instagram v. Evergram No. 91216122, is being argued in The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in Washington, D.C.
"This is ridiculous, bullying behavior. Our two trademarks and companies couldn't be more different, plus the words "Ever" and Insta" have entirely different meanings," says Evergram's Co-Founder, Duncan Seay. Which is why Evergram is calling attention to the bullying nature of Facebook's actions through BullyGram.com.
Shortly after Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, Facebook commenced a systematic and ongoing legal strategy, evidenced by the multiple legal actions (see link below) filed against companies with "Insta" or "Gram" in their names. "It's as if these guys think they have rights to the entire dictionary," says Mr. Seay.
Furthermore, after the acquisition, Facebook buried several important changes within Instagram's brand policies. Prior to these changes, the use of the terms "Insta" and "Gram" were actually encouraged by Instagram's API (application programming interface) documentation. You could use "Insta" or "Gram," but not both together in the name of the app.
While the immediate dispute resides in the "gram" name, a substantially larger issue may exist according to Seay: "The attempt of a large organization with vast resources to assert a legal position with a goal of outspending a smaller company into compliance or abandonment of it efforts is objectionable on many levels, not to mention the possible violations of trademark misuse and unfair competition laws."
The two companies, however, remain very different. Instagram was launched as a photo-sharing app to capture one's photos, select a filter, and instantly share those photos with the public. On the other hand, Seay said "Evergram was designed to deliver peoples' special memories at special times, now or in the future. In fact, the Company was founded shortly after I was diagnosed with Cancer. During that period my co-founder conceived of the idea to send special memories (with an intentional delay) into the future for my loved ones, as opposed to an instant focus. We are a modern day 'gram' just as a Telegram is an old-fashioned way to send a message, or MoneyGram is an old-fashioned way to send money."
"Facebook's deep pockets and aggressive use of taxpayer-funded government agencies in Washington to try and stop smaller companies with trademark applications from using either "Gram" or "Insta" in their names, while selectively allowing others to co-exist with Instagram points to the fundamental legal weakness of Facebook's position. Why attack Evergram yet ignore the 250 plus registered trademarks ending in 'gram' or the 100 plus mobile apps using 'gram' in their name? Plus, many of these products are for photographic apps marketed under registered names in the same classes as Instagram: Infogram, Photogram, Cinemagram, Panogram and Pictogram," says Owen Ryan, a trademark expert well known in the Federal Courts for prevailing against trademark cancellation attacks from Facebook-sized competitors such as Anheuser Busch and The Coca-Cola Company.
"When a company with the deep pockets of Facebook and Instagram decides to pick on a non-competitive startup, the public should have an opportunity to voice their opinions. This is currently possible on the website BullyGram.com and through a just released Change.org petition," said Mr. Seay. "Besides, there are larger issues than just the Evergram name at stake here. I think it's reasonable to worry that Facebook and Instagram might end up monopolizing the social networking landscape in the same way John D. Rockefeller worked to monopolize the oil business a hundred fifty years ago, leaving consumers with fewer and eventually more expensive choices."
BullyGram.com is a blogging forum dedicated to a free flowing discussion about corporate bullying and its effects on free enterprise in America.
To kick-start these efforts, Mr. Seay will be handing out BullyGram leaflets to the employees of Facebook's archrival Google as they board company busses to work. Seay hopes this tech savvy crowd in the Bay Area will enjoy the opportunity to comment on Facebook's corporate bullying practices and over-reaching name grabs, while also prompting discussions at the public policy level in Washington and Sacramento.
"The irony is that Evergram lives in the epicenter of the tech world, yet is using this old-fashioned hand-delivered leaflet method to launch their counter attack on Facebook and Instagram. In a case like this one, nobody cheers for the bully to win," says Mr. Ryan.
Instagram's legal actions against "gram" and "insta" companies: http://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/v?pnam=Instagram
About Evergram, Inc.
The Company markets a line of consumer based future messaging products: an event based website called Evergram and a new mobile app called Fetch It. Fetch It is a treasure hunt inspired geo-location app that allows users to drop anonymous, public messages or private photos and notes for pickup at any location in the world. Using Fetch It, the Company has left photo-messages for Mark Zuckerberg and the public to "Fetch" at Facebook's Corporate Campus. Fetch It is available for download on the iTunes and Google Play stores.
For Interviews, call Duncan Seay, Evergram, Inc. at 415-572-7842. Twitter: @FetchItApp or @Evergram mailto:[email protected]
SOURCE Evergram, Inc.
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