This morning I had brought to my attention (by Daryl Quenet, Beanstalk’s Director Of Optimization Services) a trademark application for – of all things – the term “SEO”. Jason Gambert has filed for the trademark. After his initial applications were declined he’s managed to wear down the fine folks at the trademark office and it’s passed the initial stages.
As part of the application Jason has referred to SEO as a process not a service. He claims to want to establish standards and anyone who doesn’t meet those standards cannot use the term SEO to refer to them. And who will dictate these standards? Why none other than Jason Gambert himself. Why do I have a hunch there will be a paid review fee to insure that your processes (not services) meet his “stringent” requirements (of course, this is just a guess).
Now one thing that REALLY irks me (well – one among many) can be encompassed by the question, “Who is Jason Gambert?” Before this issue arose I’d never heard of him, a number of other SEO community members had never heard of him so I have to ask, who the heck (the word I’ll use in a blog post and save more colorful terms for later) is he to appear out of nowhere and claim to know the standards we should all live up to? While the term SEO is so obviously a generic one that my main objection is that he shouldn’t be able to trademark it in the first place, my next opposition would be that Jason Gambert himself is not in a position of authority in the industry to set standards at all.
While I’d still object is it was Rand Fishkin, Danny Sullivan or the like – at least I’d be able to sleep knowing that the standards themselves would be legitimate ones. But Jason Gambert? I don’t think I’m going to try to build my business processes around tactics from some guy I don’t know and have never heard of.
But I digress. This is a HUGE issue. If you’re at all involved in the SEO or Internet communities you NEED to file a complaint.
Sarah Bird, legal counsel for SEOmoz was the first to file a formal complaint. You can read theirs at http://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/v?qs=91183449. You can also read an awesome summary of the issue, the history, etc. on the SEOmoz site here. It was a huge pleasure to have Sarah on the show to discuss this important issue. Now the work is up to you …
To file your opposition to this act (and you certainly should) you can do so on the Trademark Office site at http://estta.uspto.gov/filing-type.jsp. If you need more time you can also simply file for an extension that will give you 30 days to complete the process.
It important that you do one of the two today at it’s the last day to file.
On a slightly different note. Should this not work and should Jason Gambert actually get the trademark we’re going to have to ready ourselves for battle. it’s going to be important that the SEO community (I CAN still use that term for now) rallies together in defense of any companies charged by Jason. Beanstalk will commit to a $1000 donation to the first company taken to court in the event that Gambert actually get the right to do so to help cover the legal fees. I’d challenge other major SEO companies to do the same. We’ll need to make it so expensive to fight these ridiculous battles against anyone involved that it’s not worth it.
Now go get filing.
SEO news blog post by Dave Davies, CEO @ 2:35 pm on April 24, 2008