I was recently contacted by a law group representing IMDb to shut down! Due to trademark infringement of my domain name...
Here was my response:
From: Brian Fritz (Jul 30th)
To: Jim Struthers
Dear Mr. Struthers,
My site does not retrieve or republish information from IMDB's website nor does it use scraping. I also do not distribute a script or offer tools which help others scrape IMDB's data.
The data provided is compiled from a conglomerate of different API's and Sources:
Bing API - for searching
Freebase.com API - movie data
RottenTomatoes API - movie data / ratings
Wikipedia.org API - movie data
TheMovieDb.org API - movie data
Most of which are licensed under Creative Commons.
My site does not offer any commercial media (Photos, Trailers, Images, Audio) only non-commercial factual information about films.
In addition I believe the domain name "IMDB API" falls under nominative fair use.
I also made a strong effort to avoid any likeness or confusion between my site and IMDB.com by the use of colors (Pink/Silver) and graphics, that in no way resemble IMDB's registered mark, color theme (Yellow/Black) or brand. (see trademark: http://www.trademarkia.com/imdb-77920658.html)
I recently added a disclaimer at the bottom of my home page "This site is not endorsed by or affiliated with IMDb.com" to help avoid any association.
I hope this email enlightens you more on the situation and resolves any matters. Thanks
-Brian Fritz of the "Information Movie Database Application Programming Interface" not to be confused with "Internet Movie Database"
Jim's reponse to me + My response:
From: Jim Struthers (Aug 2nd)
To: Brian Fritz
BF: Hi Jim, Please see my response below...
Dear Mr. Fritz,
Thanks for your message, however nominative use definitely does not apply here. Nominative use only applies if, in addition to other requirements, you use IMDb to identify IMDb.com’s product and you do so in a manner that doesn’t suggest sponsorship or endorsement by IMDb. See New Kids on the Block v. News America Pub., Inc., 971 F.2d 302, 308 (9th Cir. 1992). Nominative use doesn’t apply at all when you use IMDb to identify your product, which you have represented has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual IMDb.
BF: The site no longer referrers to or uses the IMDb mark to identify any product or service.
Consumers encountering the domain names imdbapi.com/.net, or the script name IMDB API, are going to assume that this product has something to with IMDb – either that it accesses IMDb data (which as we have noted would constitute copyright infringement) or that it is sponsored or endorsed by IMDB. Per your representation on data sources, your script does not access IMDB data, and of course it is NOT sponsored or endorsed by IMDB, making consumer confusion inevitable. This constitutes trademark infringement. There’s no exception for non-commercial use.
BF: The domain is no longer used in the "IMDB API" context and is now just an acronym "IMDBAPI" with over 50,000+ different meanings, none of which resemble or relate to any of IMDb's products or services.
The disclaimer you have added doesn’t change this result. First, ordinary consumers don’t read fine print and so the potential for confusion is unaffected. Second, even a prominent disclaimer doesn’t allow you to adopt a competing product’s name as your own.
BF: "The Internet context, consumers are aware that domain names for different Web sites are quite often similar, because of the need for language economy, and that very small differences matter." See IMDb, Inc. v. Seventh Summit Ventures., Claim Number: FA0503000436735.
With regard to the color selection for your logo, IMDB is registered as a “word mark” – which means IMDb’s exclusive rights are in the mark itself, without any limits as to color scheme or presentation.
BF: All logos and reference to IMDb's word mark have been removed.
IMDb remains willing to resolve things amicably, but this is a serious matter requiring immediate action. As you’re now on express notice of IMDb’s rights and the applicable law, we require you to discontinue all use of IMDB in association with this script, and transfer imdbapi.com and imdbapi.net to IMDb, within 3 business days.
BF: As far as the domain names go, I've spent a lot of personal time and money on them, and can't justify the notion of simply handing it over. If however IMDb wants to acquire these domains from me, I'm sure we can come to some sort of agreement.
I look forward to hearing from you. All rights and remedies are reserved If we have to devote further resources to this matter.
BF: Sic semper tyrannis,
First off I would like to say the only legal knowledge I have is what I read on Google, and clearly cannot afford a lawyer to handle this for me, or have any plans on trying to fight against Amazon/IMDb in court. So what I have gathered from his response is, I could legally keep this domain under nominative use if I did in fact use it to "identify a IMDb.com product in a manner that doesn't suggest sponsorship"? It's also nice to get legal conformation that disclaimers on websites are apparently worthless. Owning a "word mark" on an acronym seems a little unfair also, who’s to say my URL doesn't actually mean "IM D BAPI" or maybe it's an anagram for "I Map Bid"! Nonetheless the only information I could find about my situation with IMDb was a case they lost trying to get the domain INDB.com on the grounds that "the Internet context, consumers are aware that domain names for different Web sites are quite often similar, because of the need for language economy, and that very small differences matter." Well I have THREE extra letters in my domain name! That’s pretty unconfusing I would say...
Drop me some feedback and share your thoughts on the situation! -b
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