MS Steals GamerDad's name, popping children's balloons next on To Do list
October 19, 2006 10:41 PM   Subscribe

GamerDad, a site which has been around since 2003 (and is a registered trademark), has been a source of amusement and reviews for parents who play games, and parents who want to know what their kids are playing. Microsoft decided that they liked the name so much, they would steal it. But at least they had the courtesy to admit they knew about GamerDad before they stole the name.
posted by dejah420 (19 comments total)
So where's the fire? "Gamer Dad" is a column by a dad who's a gamer. To quote "In this column, I'll try to share my experience with my kids and I'll let you know what seems to be working and what isn't." GamerDad is a site. This isn't a huge leap... a column about parenting and games by a man called "Gamer Dad." The tip of the hat they gave the GamerDad site was more than generous.
posted by VulcanMike at 10:52 PM on October 19, 2006

VulcanMike: trademark law doesn't work that way.
posted by delmoi at 10:56 PM on October 19, 2006

Still, if the gamerdad site isn't complaining, I don't see why we should be. Are they?
posted by delmoi at 10:57 PM on October 19, 2006

Okay, looking through the forum it appears that the original gamerdad has referred the matter to his lawyer.
posted by delmoi at 10:59 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Furthermore, after reading some of the mindless comments to the first Xbox column, I've got to note that is a domain name. The column "Gamer Dad" lives here:

Anyone confused? It's a "Personality" column within the Xbox site. Did you mistake it for another website that's been around for many years and has tons of content?

If my last name were "Daley" and I wrote a political lampoon column for called "The Daley Show," would you think I were Jon Stewart? Would you accuse Slate of stealing?
posted by VulcanMike at 11:01 PM on October 19, 2006

Lame post. Hate MS much? Take it to Slashdot.
posted by Dunwitty at 11:22 PM on October 19, 2006

"But at least they had the courtesy to admit they knew about GamerDad before they stole the name."

Lying/Trying to be inflammatory? Or just confused about the direction of time? Your second link points to a blog entry about the first post, where the author says "Just saw this (MS's column), not be confused with this (GamerDad website)." So, the blog entry happens after the column existed... where's the "knew about it before hand" come from?
posted by Dunwitty at 11:27 PM on October 19, 2006

Just before I go to sleep...

(and is a registered trademark)

This is not an accurate statement. Per the USPTO Kids' Pages site :-) a trademark is not "registered" from a legal perspective until it has been processed in the affirmitave. Per the last USPTO database update on 23 June, this registration has not yet been assigned for processing.
posted by VulcanMike at 11:53 PM on October 19, 2006

Trademarks can be valid without ever being registered.
posted by Paris Hilton at 1:01 AM on October 20, 2006

finally even Microsoft -- whose software has been historically shared in massive, _massive_ amounts on P2P networks -- has joined the ranks of the "Some Rights Reserved" community.

I'm sure they'll be as flexible when _their_ trademarks are challenged, from now on. like, whenever somebody codes a word-processing software that you can use to write, well, words, and decides to call it Word. same for applications you use in the office, for spreadsheets and stuff like that -- it's neat to call them Office.

thanks for the post, dejah
posted by matteo at 2:15 AM on October 20, 2006

and the only thing sadder than the OMFGSTEVEJOBZRULZ fanboys are the shrill, childish MS lickspittles (as if a monopolist megacorporation needed random apologists on the Internet).

at least Apple products suck significantly less

posted by matteo at 2:18 AM on October 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

matteo writes "(as if a monopolist megacorporation needed random apologists on the Internet)"

Oh, come on. Nothing attracts broad, bullshit speculation and conclusion-jumping like a story about Microsoft. On the Mac side you have OMFGSTEVEJOBZRULZ. On the PC side, the analogue is not defenders of Microsoft, but rather the OMFGMICROSOFTISEVIL crowd.

I appreciate that GamerDad has worked hard to establish a name for the site and build it as a source of revenue. I simply can't accept outright that Microsoft naming a free column within a larger site threatens the reputation or revenue stream for a free, distinct and content-rich site with a differently-formatted name and a "Donate" button on its homepage.

Though it's still possible to defend a trademark regardless of registration, per Harvard Law, it's a different legal situation depending on status:
Although registration with the PTO is not required for a trademark to be protected, registration does confer a number of benefits to the registering party. 15 U.S.C. § 1051. As described above, registration gives a party the right to use the mark nationwide, subject to the limitations noted above. 15 U.S.C. § 1072. Registration constitutes nationwide constructive notice to others that the trademark is owned by the party. Registration enables a party to bring an infringement suit in federal court. 15 U.S.C. § 1121. Registration allows a party to potentially recover treble damages, attorneys fees, and other remedies. Finally, registered trademarks can, after five years, become "incontestable," at which point the exclusive right to use the mark is conclusively established. 15 U.S.C. § 1065.

Applications for registration are subject to approval by the PTO. The PTO may reject a registration on any number of grounds. 15 U.S.C. § 1052. For example, the PTO will refuse to register generic marks or descriptive marks that have not attained secondary meaning. The PTO can also reject "immoral or scandalous" marks, certain geographic marks, marks that are primarily surnames, and marks that are likely to cause confusion with existing marks. As noted above, rejection of the mark does not necessarily mean that it is not entitled to trademark protection; it means only that the mark is not entitled to the additional benefits listed above. 15 U.S.C. § 1125.

That seems like a more articulated opinion than most I've read on the subject thus far.
posted by VulcanMike at 5:12 AM on October 20, 2006

Vulcan, why so insistent on defending microsoft? I mean, you are by far the most noise on this thread, and all you've really said is "So what if Microsoft uses the name that another company has been using for 3 years." So, it would be ok with you if they used your brand, or decided that Metafilter would be a good name for a column?
posted by dejah420 at 8:34 AM on October 20, 2006

Look matteo, you caught one!
posted by JHarris at 10:53 AM on October 20, 2006

dejah, why are you so insistent on attacking Microsoft? If Sony or GE or Google or Red Robin or Kennebec Tool and Die had created a column on their website called "Gamer Dad", would that have even caught your attention, much less raised your ire?

Do you honestly believe that you are NOT on the OMFGMICROSOFTISEVIL train?
posted by Dunwitty at 1:47 PM on October 20, 2006

Dun, I'm a certified Microsoft developer. I've written 11 manuals for MS, created training systems, and regularly use their software. I'm not "antiMS" in the way you would very much like to portray me.

I am however, pro small business, pro entrepeneur, and pro GamerDad. Seriously, there is no difference between what MS did and someone going to any publishing company in the world and creating a column called "MetaFilter" and then copying the MeFi content.
posted by dejah420 at 1:58 PM on October 20, 2006

I've not read Gamer Dad before (either one of them). If I heard about Gamer Dad and googled for it and ended up at Microsoft's web site, I would not know the difference. I would not even consider that there are two writers using the same moniker. I would find zero value in reading Xbox advice from an official Xbox web site. I would immediately think Gamer Dad was nothing but a pathetic joke.
posted by fleener at 7:18 PM on October 22, 2006

An update:

MS realized the folly of their ways and have changed the name of their column to Xbox Dad. So, apparently, MS disagreed with the folks here who said they had a right to trample all over someone else's IP and trademark, and did the right thing by changing the name.
posted by dejah420 at 1:14 PM on October 26, 2006

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