To Denise Lones of the Lones Group Fame...
For years, I had a “don’t steal from the starving artists…” line that followed each and every post of mine. Those concerned things that weren’t terribly important, just words, and I’d gladly let anyone borrow those if asked. When it comes to what I do for a living though, and the products of those labors, I’m extremely protective, as I believe every business owner should be. My husband and I make our living by providing marketing services, at times, to the folks in the real estate industry. We have our own style when it comes to most things, and I’d be the first to jump all over someone claiming anything of ours as theirs… Well, almost anything.
You see, Denise, my company’s logo is a red circle with two letters in it, in white. There are a million and change other instances of a red circle with white something or other in it, some more famous than others, and I am sure some belonging to various marketing companies. But I can’t imagine suing any one of these companies for ‘infringing’ on my brand. Heck, there are even companies in the same business I am in with the same name, and yet, to date not a single one of my clients became confused, dizzy or otherwise indisposed as a result of that coincidence.
The reason none of my past, present or future clients are ever confused is because they KNOW the people behind our company via our work examples, our blogs and our interactions with folks on FB and the like. I highly doubt anyone is sitting there googling “real estate marketing company with a red circle in their logo” to figure out who to give their money to. In much the same way I highly doubt there has ever been a possibility of confusing your company and services for those of Daniel Rothamel. You claim to provide marketing services to the real estate industry. Daniel sells real estate and occasionally speaks at peer conferences. I can’t imagine any of your past, present of future clients ever facing a dilemma of who to give their money to, you or Daniel, unless one if facing a rather strange choice of a house in Charlottesville VA vs. a set of glossy postcards.
Which leads me to two possible scenarios: you are suing this family brokerage because Daniel is known as the brand you wish you had, but didn’t have the ability to pull off. You are pissed as hell that someone out there is referred to as the real estate zebra, and it’s not you. But you see, once someone successfully builds a brand, it stays with them, and they DON”T have to resort to suing for it. No piece of paper proving ownership will result in additional business for you, Denise. Your reputation and skills are the only things that can (and should) result in new business. This lawsuit is boding rather ill for your reputation in the circles you are selling to. Your name, previously unknown to most of us, now has all the connotations of the horse’s ass, and none of the zebra, because zebras are smart, hence they travel in herds. Their stripes are there not to stand out, but to blend in, hence making each individual zebra less vulnerable to attack. Survival of an individual zebra depends on having a large herd, and a herd is something you belong to by engagement and cooperation. From what I’ve seen – you have no herd to speak of.
Or, maybe this is all just a ploy to get your name out there. In which case, I congratulate you. More people now know something about you than probably ever before. You’ve successfully burned more bridges and lost more potential clients than you could have done by any other means. Even producing lousy work would have been less damaging than this campaign to cost someone thousands of miles away time, money and heartache. Most people I know would rather give their money to an underdog than a bully, no matter what their brand.
You can rectify this to the extent that a small part of your reputation may be salvageable by retracting this asinine lawsuit and apologizing to those involved. We are all human, and we all pee on our turf when we feel our livelihoods threatened, but knowing where your turf begins and ends is imperative to not accidentally peeing on someone else’s. We, humans, also have a very high tolerance for those who make mistakes, so long as they own up to them and make amends. With the first page of Google results on your name dominated by this silly lawsuit – here is your golden opportunity to change that. There is honor in doing the right thing. A smart zebra would know that.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am not an attorney, none of this should be construed as legal advice, and this post, in case it's not blatantly obvious is just one gal's opinion. Additionally, I am not in any way connected to any party involved, and up until yesterday was blissfully ignorant of the existence of any of the people named here, but I will always side with the underdog where an injustice has been done...
For anyone who wants to help Daniel fight this battle, Jay Thompson set up a site where you can show your support or donate a couple of bucks. Click the following link: real-realestatezebra's-defense-fund. Also, help spread the word via Twitter here and FaceBook wherever on FB you dwell.