I truly wish you luck in your fight against Instagram. Name stealing is a rough game. I know because I have been traveling on Bolt buses for 8 years now (http://www.boltbus.com/). I know there is some confusion because you have basically the same symbol. Maybe there aren't too many ways to vary a lightning bolt shooting through an "O" in the word "Bolt" but I welcome you (and Instagram to try).
A bus rider.
As bolt.co is claiming, there are many people who appear to be confused between instagram's offering and the company's product (they are arguably in the same space and possibly competitors).
For example if Microsoft Combine Harvesters popped up, it would be relatively straightforward to argue that they are making use of the Microsoft mark for the sole purpose of attracting attention to its product, by effectively piggy-backing on the real Microsoft's reputation.
Proving reputation is difficult but generally you will have to show substantial investment in marketing/advertising in the relevant territories.
If I can't show reputation I am limited to actions for straight infringement (identical mark/identical services/goods) or confusion-based actions (similar mark/similar services/goods).
A good example was the Budweiser v Budvar saga http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budweiser_Budvar_Brewery#Tradem...
Generally, you would hope that the parties could come to an agreement and enter what's known as a co-existence agreement where they just agreed to continue but in some cases agree not to further encroach on each other's markets for example.
The above example just ran and ran with each filing suits around the world, showing the difficulties of deciding who should have sole rights to a name when both have built up substantial goodwill over a long period of time.
Side Note: trademark protection is more focused on protecting consumers than companies - unless the company has spent an excessive amount promoting and selling their products, at which point, they are given special protection/rights.
(I'm amazed The Beatles let them get away with it).
So, while I get your intention, that's not how trademarks work. If Bolt doesn't have a trademark, they should stop complaining.
From recent cases I only remember Microsoft to change their mind in regards to their "Metro" OS. However, even in that case Microsoft decided to back off because "Metro" was a big retailer that sold Microsoft's products, so bad blood could cause bottom line to take a hit.
I'm curious who got this name earlier.
Bolt.cm registered 2012-09-19
Bolt.cd earliest record 2011-01-04
Bolt Bus will definitely not be confused with the Bolt App.
Bolt (the Disney movie): http://cdnvideo.dolimg.com/cdn_assets/abd7aa3a4851f515796d9d...
Bolt Browser: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolt_(web_browser)
I always find it annoying when the blog company logo doesn't bring you back to the company's homepage.
I put together a simple layout for my company's blog and made this link very explicit specific, see: http://blog.vidoyen.com
Is that more in line with a blog reader would generally expect? I'm genuinely curious, because I've seen variants of this comment time and time again on HN.
This approach works for me though, because I find most company-blogs to have a much lower volume of published content than a website whose primary function is that of a blog. In most cases, I've wound up on the site from a direct-link to whatever blog post I'm reading. If what I've read in that post is interesting, I'm probably going to want to check out the product or service they're selling before reading any more of their company blog.
Have the logo redirect to your homepage. Have the 'Blog' go to the blog feed.
Logos that don't go to the homepage drive me batty.
They will need to compel Instagram into doing so.
"Bolt" is a short, common word. "Instagram" is not (it's also more descriptive.)
Unfortunately, the days of naming products desirable things like "bolt," and being able to defend them, legally or not, are over.
The strange-made-up-word naming trend is annoying, but at least you're guaranteed a name no one else wants.
Why? Is it really a “trend”?
Chevrolet, Toyota, Lexus, Microsoft, Kodak, Leica, Nikon, Canon, Nokia, Rolex. Some of these are not entirely made up, but they sound like it if you are not familiar with small Japanese towns.
"Rolex" has certainly played out to be a great made-up name.
"Weebly"... eh, I'm not putting my money on that one.
> But Risaburō Toyoda, who had married into the family and was not born with that name, preferred "Toyota" (トヨタ) because it took eight brush strokes (a lucky number) to write in Japanese, was visually simpler (leaving off the diacritic at the end) and with a voiceless consonant instead of a voiced one (voiced consonants are considered to have a "murky" or "muddy" sound compared to voiceless consonants, which are "clear").
Obviously, though, I don't speak Japanese. Would both the family name and the company name be Latinized as Toyoda?
But back to the naming thing, I think it is not the worst idea to name things after japanese terms, because often they can be pronounced quite easily and are often rather memorable. I have often forgotten company names because they sounded so stupid and hard to remember.
Actually, Toyota (豊田) is indeed a Japanese town, not even particularly small and is the home of Toyota Motor Corporation.
The company, in turn, is named after the Toyoda family that founded it. The spelling was changed for aesthetics and connotation.
So yeah, made-up word.
"The area was a major producer of silk and prospered from the Meiji period through the Taishō periods. As the demand for raw silk declined in Japan and abroad, Koromo entered a period of gradual decline after 1930. The decline encouraged Kiichiro Toyoda, cousin of Eiji Toyoda, to look for alternatives to the family's automatic loom manufacturing business. The search led to the founding of what became the Toyota Motor Corporation.
On March 1, 1951, Koromo gained city status, and absorbed the village of Takahashi from Nishikamo District on September 30, 1956. Due to the fame and economic importance of its major employer, the city of Koromo (挙母市?) changed its name to Toyota on January 1, 1959."
Simply put, if you create a fanciful term you will be able to operate with greater reassurance that you will not face trouble in the future in relation to your choice of name.
Part of the problem here is the imbalance between the parties' respective positions. The article in fact admits that it is not users being confused that Instagram's app is related to their existing app, but the other way round. You might say that due to Instagram's size, they have the ability to instantly develop goodwill around a new app and its name (I am playing devil's advocate here to an extent).
If I was Instagram I would probably offer a small sum to Bolt.co to change their name on the basis that I could offer a sum now or know I have a deep reserve of budget for legal fees to argue that Bolt.co has not developed sufficient goodwill/reputation to be entitled to prevent Instagram's usage of 'Bolt'.
What? That is not at all how trademark works.
If Instagram wanted, it might have a shot at a protracted lawsuit, attempting to make it not worth Bolt's time to defend the trademark .
If that were to happen, though, I would hope that the suit would be dismissed with prejudice because in my non-legal opinion, any reasonable person would agree that Instagram is directly infringing Bolt's trademark in an area of business that is too similar for the average consumer to be able to differentiate.
 either by bankrupting them if they decide to defend it, or if Bolt can successfully mount a defense, it would require a large time investment by key employees like all the C-level executives, meanwhile Instagram (having more resources by far) is not impeded in its business nearly as much.
I have a feeling the guys at King disagree with you.
But maybe that was obviously the point to everyone, and my comment is rendered unnecessary.
It seems like a pretty clear-cut public appeal to Instagram/Facebook to actually do something, which is to choose a different name before the product launches..
One has to hope/assume that Bolt has already tried private channels and met with little or no success, which is what forced them to go this public route..
Or are you implying they want to be paid off?
Obviously, I'm not Bolt and can't know what their thought process was. If it were me, though, here's what I'd do:
I'd be angry that they're probably stealing my app's name, enough to write something like this with genuine feeling behind it. I mean, it sucks. But I'd also realize that (1) they're a big company with no prevailing need to listen to me, (2) any attempt on my part to force them to give up the name would result in lengthy, unpleasant legal proceedings I might very well lose, and (3) without some upset customers, they have zero incentive to do anything but throw lawyers at me till I go away.
So I would take my appeal, which I wrote back at the beginning, and instead of sending it through private channels, I'd post it online. This way, I win (or at least suffer less) no matter what happens. My app gets free publicity (and sympathy), users might feel like they need to pressure Facebook/Instagram to not let this happen, and even if neither of those occur, my company looks like a good and reasonable company.
I believe that if they had tried back-channels and failed, they would have said so in the letter (probably not with details, but with some sort of mention). I don't think they want to be "paid off" per se (i. e., settle for a large sum of money), but I think they want to reap some benefit from this circumstance mostly out of their control, and I don't blame them.
GP means with this blog post Bolt is using this opportunity not to appeal to Istangram, but to get free publicity for the company.
> We've been using the Bolt name in the mobile messaging market for a year, and technically we have to "police our mark", otherwise we risk losing it.
> We don't want a legal battle over this, and we think it's not too late for you to consider an alternate name before launch.
I disagree. A web browser is used for person to person communication too. All three are used for very, very different forms of it, though.
The presence of a word in a dictionary/its length has no bearing on its registrability as a trade mark.
That's my point. There's a maximum lifespan; the life of the company. Since Bolt browser no longer exists, I doubt they would renew the trademark.
One was filed in the 22nd and the other on the 23rd July 2014. Seems like something they should have done earlier but I do feel for them none the less, potentially going up against FB's legal team seems less than fun.
>"IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Computer application software for mobile phones, namely, software for use in text, voice and video communication between users. FIRST USE: 20131014. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20131014"
Bolt is used too often and the only way you would succeed in a reverse confusion trial is to show that you own the Bolt trademark when it comes to mobile communication - no easy task. Just look at FiftyThree's USPTO application for "Paper" and the letter of protest that was submitted.
You only recently filed for the mark in the USPTO, and even by some miracle you get it through the PTO, Facebook/Instagram can still file a Letter of Protest or file an Opposition in the TTAB.
Unfortunately, even though you have rights to the name Bolt, you likely won't be able to enforce it. That said, neither Facebook nor Instagram can successfully litigate against you in court.
'its a really utilitarian, no-nonsense product for People Who Just Get It Done, like me & my team, so naming it out of the common English vocabulary was really the most natural expression of this'
Naming your products tired names like 'Bolt' is not bold, it's just uncreative. It helps no one: it's pretentious, it makes your product harder to find (regardless of 'how dissimilar it is to previous products'), and it makes your brand less memorable. Why would anyone want to do this to their company or their customers?
Maybe people who perpetrate this sort of situation will continue to have tensions like this one and the trend will gracefully(?) self-destruct. Hopefully the people who are capable of building valuable products will choose names which don't cost them!
Now Pages and Numbers, on the other hand...
Since Instagram is owned by Facebook and Facebook has launched Slingshot, a Snapchat rival, I'm wondering why they need another one?
It's almost as if they took their lessons from the struggles in becoming a platform for third parties and decided that there are only a small number of core applications people use. Instead of waiting for, and having less control of these high profile apps, Facebook instead is just owning them outright.
Their goal is more data, not less competition.
My theory is that Facebook (the company) is preparing for the day when Facebook (the website) goes the way of Friendster and Myspace, and they're attempting to have other lines of business when that happens.
Facebook must be trying for a round 3.
tl;dr Using a word to name a company is easy, but indefensible.
You are correct in that they don't make an explicit claim, but I'm not sure if trademark law actually requires you to do that. It would certainly make everything less messy.
It definitely does not. It certainly could influence a court decision (there's always a degree of uncertainty with any court case), but you absolutely can defend a mark that you have not explicitly claimed or registered, as long as you can demonstrate sufficiently widespread prior use.
This is a very common misconception. Trademarks do not need to be registered in order to be defended (and even registering a trademark does not mean you can defend it).
Registering a trademark might have prevented this situation, but only if the Instagram lawyers took the time to search the USPTO database for marks matching "Bolt" (but even then, it's not a guarantee since (A) the search interface is pretty bad, and (B) they may have decided to go ahead and use it anyway).