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A Cease and Desist Demand from Gaijin Entertainment

On Friday, May 3rd, 2013, I received this missive via email in an attached PDF (full text below). In it, Gaijin Entertainment, a company founded in 2002, is claiming trademark infringement over this domain (“gaijin.com”), which I registered on May 22nd, 1995, and which shows content in the Internet Archive as early as November 5, 1996.

On that same afternoon, my attorney Mike Godwin sent their counsel the following email:

Dear Mr. Goldstein-Gureff,

Please be advised that my client, Brandon Harris, disputes your trademark-infringement claim in every particular.

That is the most polite way to state how vigorously we dispute your attempt to assert flat ownership of the word “gaijin,” a word so well-established in English that it is an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Currently, I’m advising my client to publicize your demand letter, so that the entire game-consuming public will be made aware of your client’s overreaching trademark assertions. In addition, we will of course continue to make clear that Brandon Harris’s website in no way gives rise to any kind of marketplace confusion of the sort that American trademark law is designed to address.

In the interests of allowing you and your client to gracefully retract your claim, we have chosen to refrain from publicizing your demand until you respond to this message, provided that you respond no later than close-of-business Monday. Since I am currently in DC, Eastern time applies.

–Mike Godwin

P.S. I understand that your clients are possibly Russian nationals. You may wish to explain to them the scope and limitations of the Lanham Act in the United States.

–MG

As the time granted to Mr. Goldstein-Gureff has expired, I am publishing this information.

The text of their letter is as follows, with contact information removed.

International Legal Counsels PC
[Contact information redacted]
Re: Trademark Infringement by Gaijin.com

Dear Mr. Harris:

Our firm represents Gaijin Entertainment Corporation (“Gaijin”). Gaijin is a well-known game development company that specializes in creating video games for various platforms (PlayStation3/Xbox 360/iOS/PC). Gaijin is the biggest independent PS3, Xbox 360 and iOS games developer in the Russia Federation and an official partner of Activision, 505 Games, Microsoft, TopWare Interactive, SouthPeak Interactive, Sony Computer Entertainment, 1C Company, Apple and many others. Gaijin’s games have received a range of media and game industry awards including such KRI Awards as “Best Simulation Game,” “Best Technology,” “Best sound” and many more. Gaijin also owns, among other intellectual property, a U.S. trademark registration “GAIJIN” (Reg. No. 4,037,227) (“Gaijin Mark”).

It came to our attention that you registered and maintain a website www.gaijin.com (“Infringing Website”) that infringes Gaijin Mark. By maintaining and offering to public your content via the website, i.e., Infringing Website, having the same domain as Gaijin Mark, you create consumer confusion and mistake as to the source, sponsorship and/or affiliation of the
Infringing Website and Gaijin, thereby infringing Gaijin Mark. Consequently, the main purpose of this letter is to demand that you immediately cease and desist from maintaining and offering your content via the Infringing Website or any other site having the domain substantially similar to Gaijin Mark. Gaijin also demands that you immediately transfer the Infringing Domain to Gaijin.

If you wish to amicably resolve this matter, we should hear from you not later than five days from the date of this letter regarding the demands listed above. Should we not receive your response that would be satisfactory to our client, we intend to undertake all legal actions and seek statutory and actual damages (including punitive damages and attorneys’ fees) afforded to our client under applicable law and equity, including, without limitation, pursuant to ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

This letter is written for the purpose of bringing to an end the illegal activities described above and with a view of potential settlement of our client’s claims and may not be used by you for any other purpose whatsoever without our written consent. Our client reserves all rights granted to it by law and specifically reserves the right to withdraw any offers before they are
accepted or before any payments are made and to avail itself of any enforcement, legal action or relief available to him in law or equity. Additionally, this letter is without prejudice to all further rights our client or its publishers, licensors or licensees may have, including, without limitation, rights to injunctive relief, profits, damages, statutory damages, royalties and attorney’s fees. Should you have any questions, please address any communications regarding this matter to us as follows:

Leo V. Goldstein-Gureff, Esq.

[Contact information redacted]

Posted in Life, Topical, Whatever. Tagged with , .


40 Responses

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  1. Philippe says

    Oh, now, this is just gonna be fun. Too easy, Brandon, too easy.

  2. Kelowna says

    When I hear (or see) Gaijin, I always think of you first ever since ’97 or ’98 when I first saw this site (looked a bit different then but still green!). I also working in the gaming industry for awhile and I had never heard of Gaijin applied to video games before you mentioned it.

  3. J Gingold says

    Ha. This should be good.

  4. Russ Nelson says

    You have Godwin for a lawyer? I just hope, I wish, I *plead* for Gaijin Entertainment to invoke Hitler, oh please please please.

  5. Devian says

    While I don’t share their enthusiasm, I hope this all goes in your favor. I view this a corporate bullying. Best of luck.

  6. Nate says

    I wonder if they meant to sent it to gaijingames.com. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaijin_Games

  7. Valgar says

    It seems that most of their games are rip-offs of current, mainstream, games. How wonderful.

  8. Brenda says

    Don’t be a dick. Let them have their domain.

    • Mikki says

      “Their domain?” No doubt you are confused as to “ownership” of words, and protections afforded thereof.

    • Brenda01 says

      @Brenda

      I have recently chosen to call myself Brenda as well, and am troubled to see that you are using the same name. This can cause confusion, and I insist that you stop using the name Brenda and call yourself something different.

      Since I know you don’t want to be a dick, I’m sure you will comply.

  9. dc0de says

    A-mazing. by their own reference to the ICANN rules, they filed a trademark and you have to give up your stuff, hah.

  10. Andrew says

    @Brenda: I do believe our host was THERE FIRST by about seven years If intellectual property is owned by the guys with the most money, our freedoms are certainly next.

  11. Jason Finegan says

    Isn’t the normal procedure to simply offer to buy the domain name?

    • Paul R. Gauthier says

      No. The normal procedure is to intimidate, cajole and otherwise scare the name-holder into giving it up for free. That’s how corporate bullying works.

  12. Stacey says

    I’m going to trademark the word “cat” and then I’m going to demand that everyone give me their cats! Muh ah ah!!

    I love cats.

    • Damion says

      won’t work. everyone knows that Jorm in the reason your cat is pregnant. Therefore, he owns all the cats already, by right of succession…n reverse…or something…whatever.

      • jorm says

        Damion is referring to an ancient SFNet meme, wherein I would log as an account “/DEV/NULL”, and describe how I was the reason for all your woes.

        /DEV/NULL is the reason you fear the night.
        /DEV/NULL is the reason your checkbook does not balance.
        /DEV/NULL is the reason your girlfriend is cheating on you.
        /DEV/NULL is the reason your cat is pregnant.

    • PennyJo says

      You laugh but ages ago “Gene Simmons” of the band KISS trademarked “O.J.” in reference to Orange Juice – that’s why in years past you would hear commercials, “Don’t for get your OJ” and now it’s “Don’t forget you orange juice”. I think I read he charges USD 1,000 per use of the word for commercial purposes.. LOL

      The story goes that he was goofing around and discovered that no one had trademarked the name so he did just for kicks and now history is set..Don’t say O.J. in reference to Orange Juice or you could get one of those letters.

      This information is used under the Free use for education exemption.

      • Philippe says

        PennyJo, that’s quite …. incorrect.

        See http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=doc&state=28t2ci.7.8 – the trademark OJ is owned by Dawn Foods (for sales in “Cake mixes and donuts”) , and about five other companies (depending on the industry they’re operating in). None of them, by the way, are Gene Simmons.

  13. Stacy says

    This is ridiculous! That company will never get a single penny from me now. What a bunch of idiotic bullies.

  14. skierpage says

    According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Domain_Name_Dispute_Resolution_Policy#Process , Gaijin Entertainment’s claim of trademark infringement fails EVERY factor used to assess a “bad faith” domain registration. Ding-ding-ding, we have a loser.

  15. Victor Grigas says

    Fucking hysterical

  16. RandomGuest says

    Maybe you should make a counter-proposal that they have to turn over their domain to you?

  17. Amy says

    Awww, this is precious! Copyright law: you’re doin’ it wrong.

  18. Ed Bear says

    Ummm. The PDF still has the contact information. Was this intentional?

  19. ruurd says

    One word: Streisand effect. :-) You have at least one extra RSS-subscriber.

  20. MrrX says

    Talk to the guy who runs Chevychase.com. He got a similar letter sometime back in the early ’90s. It looks like he’s still kept his site, though it looks a lot different.

  21. David Gerard says

    You had me at “my attorney Mike Godwin”. POPCORN TIME!

  22. Angry gaijin says

    I just sent them a nasty letter on their contact form: http://www.gaijinent.com/en/contact/#contacts_form

    I suggest you all do the same as well. Let’s teach these people what’s right and what’s not.

    • Teksura says

      I’m wondering about simply linking to this post on their own forums. The entire point of publishing the letter was to let their fans know of their overreaching trademark assertions.

      • Thomas says

        I tried, they don’t have a non-game specific forum.
        They deleted my post from the WarThunder forum.

  23. E-D-Insider says

    I got here via the Gaijin company forums. Anything relating to this is likely to be deleted. (They’re not known for their openness to criticism) so i’m just here to say, good luck, and I hope you guys win whatever happens next!

  24. HennaGaijin says

    Kambei shitteru direct them to the GaijinPot

  25. Christian says

    This whole thing comes as NO surprise to me anymore. They can barely handle game balance or clear development priorities, hell they’ll even lie on Steam forums about game features that are bugged but “working”. Makes sense they’d be just as inept at legalities. I truely hope you win, and should the opportunity present itself please tell them to blow it our their collect arses.

  26. xaneks says

    I want gaijin in Russia to bite my shiny white American ass. seriously though, fuck them

  27. mack says

    Just a thought: post it on their rival company forum: Wargaming – they won’t delete it for sure :)

    • mack says

      ops, I just noticed that its old story, so probably case is solved now

Continuing the Discussion

  1. A Tale of Russian Corporations | To Game For Life linked to this post on May 7, 2013

    [...] the Russian developers of War Thunder, have resorted to the lowest of internet lows – they’ve decided that gaijin.com should belong to them, and have made the appropriate legal threats to back up this [...]



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