In The News (freecycle) Being Sued!
At present freecycle is in a court battle and being sued by
FreecycleSunnyvale for damages incurred by freecycle falsely claiming
trademark infringement toYahoo. In Deron Beal's (freecycle owner) own
on this page you will see that this could be the end of freecycle
FreecycleSunnyvale win the lawsuit. You can read the legal filing
Further at present freecycles trademark applications have been
But it does not look good for freecycle as the evidence has been
in this case against freecycle. Just read the .pdf above.
Subject: Important: freecycle trademark opposition & lawsuit
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As you probably remember, The Freecycle Network (TFN) took issue with
Sunnyvale's great freecycling group. Below are some consequences that
now faces. FreecycleSunnyvale continues to believe that it is best for
freecycle to be free for everyone. The freecycle grassroots movement
stay true to its own freecycling philosophy.
1) On 1/17/2006, The Freecycle Network's (TFN's) proposed trademark
registration was published for opposition in the Trademark Official
2) On 1/18/2006, the unincorporated non-profit association
FreecycleSunnyvale filed a formal opposition to TFN's trademark
with the USPTO. You can read it at:
3) On 1/19/2006, FreecycleSunnyvale also filed a lawsuit against The
Freecycle Network in federal court (US District Court, Northern
We will point you to a copy of this filing as soon as we can.
4) Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP (one of the 10 largest law firms in the
world) are the attorneys for FreecycleSunnyvale and are providing their
services pro bono. None of the members of FreecycleSunnyvale (which
includes Tim Oey) are spending any of their own money for the
the lawsuit. You can read more about the law firm at:
5) Anyone else who wishes may now file an opposition to TFN's proposed
trademark registration (please note that there is a fee to file such an
opposition). If you or your group has been harmed by TFN, you may also
a lawsuit of your own against TFN.
6) Since a lawsuit and an opposition are now underway, the members of
FreecycleSunnyvale may be restricted in what they say.
7) If TFN chooses to negotiate, these cases could be settled in a few
months. If not, they may take many months.
Tim Oey on behalf of FreecycleSunnyvale
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2006 17:12:41 -0000
Subject: SPECIAL NOTICE / ADMIN: WANTED: pro bono legal aid in N.
This special notice is not an easy one to write. It relates to our
trademark. But it is also very important for you to have this info.
We have a trademark and have applied for its further registration with
US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). Registration of a trademark
strengthens one's legal right to the use of the name and/or logo.
trademark (or TM) becomes an "R," or registered trademark, it is first
published for opposition for a period of one month by the USPTO. Our
trademark for this nonprofit organization has now been published. As
be expected, Tim Oey, a former local
volunteer mod in Sunnyvale, is opposing our registration.
In a letter from his legal counsel, he demanded from us as an
that we renounce our trademark and allow Mr. Oey to use it for his own
group. If we did not comply with his demands he said he would oppose
trademark registration. This letter was in October. Our trademark
registration which has been pending for about 1 ½ years was
opposition two days ago and he is indeed opposing it. *But*
he is also
us in the US District Court of
Appeals of Northern California (more later on this one).
Now, the opposition of our registration is a case which will go before
USPTO to determine. This will cost both sides tens of thousands of
The outcome will either be that the trademark is registered or that
declared generic. On the most basic level, it would mean that
local and overlapping Yahoo Groups could then be set up in every
with any methods, rules or purposes which they like. Whether for
gain, for-sale, items, fees, for-profit interests: all would be fair
This would naturally lead to intergroup flaming amongst competing group
members, the splintering of groups, and other messy scenarios, etc.
the picture. This would then also mean that the goodwill that each of
have worked so hard to establish as associated with the name and the
and volunteer community nature would be lost to any commercial
with the investment capital to invest in a Freecycle.com site. It would
tragic and singular loss of what is a movement of caring and
But, well beyond this loss, Mr. Oey also is suing the organization in
US Federal District Court of Northern California. This is an entirely
separate lawsuit. He is suing for damages resulting from "trademark
infringement" supposedly by us as a nonprofit using our own name and
claiming it as a trademark. This goes well beyond the USPTO
also enables Mr. Oey to seek monetary damages from The Freecycle
other words, if he should win, he could get anywhere from just
legal-related expenses to say a million dollars in damages. It really
doesn't matter what the sum, because even the lowest end would lead
bankruptcy as an organization and, lacking an organization, a legal
a right to the name, it would likely be the final blow to this movement
whole. To be clear this goes well beyond his earlier expressed
intent "merely" to oppose our trademark with the USPTO. It is a court
which would not only cause us to lose the trademark but also to have
shut our doors as an organization. This is quite serious.
I just found all of this out yesterday. I'll be meeting with our pro
lawyers here in Tucson on Monday or Tuesday. But there is little they
as this will be a case in northern California in the Bay Area, not in
Arizona and they don't have a license to practice in California. This
we need to do our darnedest as an organization to find a really good
bono lawyer in the Bay Area who is a patent and trademark specialist
a litigator. Mr. Oey has a lawyer with one of the ten largest legal
the world which also specializes in this field. If you have any leads
finding such a lawyer, please let me know personally at
Obviously this situation will dramatically hinder current projects
take time or funding, such as the current website design project. All
are off until we are able to deal with this legal issue. We'll need
penny we can get. From here forward for the coming months, my time
also be extremely limited as you can imagine.
Sorry about the bad news. I'll let you know as I learn more. This
be fun, but is extremely critical to our survival to pursue our legal
defense as best we possibly can.
What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, right?