January 4

Suprise Letters


I met a friend, an entrepreneur, and we started talking about his first startup. Turns out he got a letter from a law office representing Facebook, because his new platform for creatives ended in the word "BOOK". 

People like getting letters in the mail, but not this kind of letter. My friend innocently called the attorney on the letter CERTAIN that it must be some simple mistake. 

After all, his startup's brand didn't sound or look anything like Facebook! Facebook couldn't possibly exclude everyone from using the word "book"... 

When the attorney for Facebook answered the phone, he said his litigation budget was $50 million, without going back to Facebook for approval. 

That lawyer, with access to that much money, asked what my friend's budget was... 

My friend was LUCKY!

Usually a C&D letter comes AFTER the startup is getting good traction in the marketplace. Sometimes, real, tangible success is just within an entrepreneur's grasp! 

Then, BOOM! The loss of momentum is the biggest COST! 

So, yes, he was lucky! He was able to change his brand and made it even more distinctive, better. And it helped define his customer better. It wasn't like he was trying to imitate Facebook anyway. 

If he had fought it, it could have cost his startup $10's of thousands in legal fees, each month... maybe $100's of thousands.

A small business can't afford to waste that type of money, and time, when it could be spent on creating sales and building the value of intangible property. Instead, brands should be selected that are distinctive and avoid "surprise" letters from big corporate litigators. 


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