Recently we filed a law suit in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska against David Sullivan individually and d/b/a Big Blue Dots. You can see the full suit here.
The short story is Mr. Sullivan was using my face and copyrighted photograph to promote his fake news site. You can see his site here.
We allege, in our lawsuit, that Mr. Sullivan’s web site contains a fake news story and fake comments from fake people in an attempt to dupe unsuspecting consumers into signing up for a monthly subscription service. In the suit we are seeking recovery of damages, profits from the infringing use, our attorney fees and some other miscellaneous stuff.
We have had to defend our trademark and copyrights many times this year against people who have used our images and trademarks on Google AdWords, Twitter, eBay, Facebook and other means.
In some of our more public lawsuits there were a lot of very disparaging comments made about em and my company. For example comments that we are now the RIAA of the affiliate marketing world. That we are trying to get rich off of suing others and many other comments that kept me up at night.
The fact some people think we were making money from lawsuits is pretty crazy. I guess most people have no clue how expensive litigation is. In 2009 even after all the successful settlements we were still very close to $100k in the red for legal.
Defending your brand is not cheap.
Let me take you through the process to help you understand how it works and how it comes to this point.
Some people might ask why all the hassle if it is not profitable. Well if you do not defend your trademarks/copyrights you can lose them. You have to take action.
The problem is that most of these people make it very difficult to contact them. They use anonymous registration services and other means to protect their identity.
You can try to send your cease and desist letter to each and every contact you can come across. But, I have never had anyone ever return my email complying with what I asked for.
So, then you have to pay your lawyer to subpoenas to the web hosting company, domain registrar, and/or affiliate company to get them to release the information. Not all of them cooperate, and some go out of their way to be very uncooperative. This costs time and money.
Sometimes just to break through all the barriers these guys setup to protect their identity can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
At that point you are not just sending a cease and desist letter for them to stop using your banner, you also have to try to recoup your legal fees + damages.
The person who is using your stuff probably thinks you’re bluffing and ignores your settlement demands.
At that point you have little choice but to either take the loss, or file suit. Jurisdiction is argued, motions are filed, more motions are filed and soon you probably have racked up $25 to $50k in legal expenses.
I never understand why these people let it get this far. If they just would have complied with your original C&D it would have been much cheaper for them.
I know what some of you are thinking: why is my brand so important to me? Well for those who aren’t familiar I will tell you.
I have been drawing the ShoeMoney logo since I was 12 years old. It’s something I am very proud of. I have come a long way with a lot of hard work. A long the way we have been able to create many products and services to help people make a lot of money on the internet. We have built up trust with a lot of companies and people. People who we have done business with in one way or another for the last 7 years.
The ShoeMoney Blog was my first entry into helping people make money online. I never really intended it to be that though. The ShoeMoney blog was just a place where I could throw up pictures, rants, and occasionally walk throughs on how to make money on the internet from my own experiences. Somewhere along the line it gained some traction and became an authority in the space of making money on the internet.
I have spoken at over 50 industry leading events world wide in the last 7 years almost all of them in regards to making money on the internet.
I put on free local meetings (Nebraska People Making Money Online Group) for individuals and businesses to assist people in making money on the internet.
I host my own conference called the Elite Retreat. We charge $5,000 per person but limit the capacity to only 30 people. The events sell out usually the first week. We have always offered a no questions ask money back guarantee. In 5 years nobody has ever taken us up on that.
I started a advertising network called AuctionAds in March of 2007. When we launched AuctionAds there were many companies doing the exact same thing that we were (display advertising network built around the eBay API and affiliate network) including eBay who at the time we launched had millions of dollars and many years invested in their product. We worked 20 hour days during AuctionAds. David did all the technical stuff and me doing all the marketing. We did what other companies were not willing to do and were rewarded handsomely for it. By July of 2007 (only 4 months after launch) we had 25,000 active publishers doing millions in revenue. AuctionAds was a great new alternative for people to make money but it quickly grew too big for a company of 2 people to handle. So we sold it. After only operating it for 4 months. It was the hardest but most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life.
In late 2008 we launched ShoeMoney Tools. A very advanced suite of internet marketing tools to help people make money online. The site has been very successful for us. We currently have over 2,000 paying members. On the bottom of every page on the site is a cancel link. To cancel your account you just click a button, not many people take us up on that either. Often times we refund people if there is any question or misunderstanding.
In May 2009 I released the ShoeMoneyX free 12 week training course. It was a very low level “introduction” to the world of making money on the internet. We have had hundreds of thousands of people download the course and the feedback has been amazing.
This January we are going to launch the ShoeMoney System. Highly influenced by the ShoeMoneyX feedback, the ShoeMoney System will be a complete step by step video walk through on how to make money on the internet. No fancy theories, no bullshit. I take regular people of the street many who never even used Facebook or twitter at all and step by step teach them how to make money. Unlike many systems out there this one will be amazingly low priced but have a huge library of content. But if for whatever reason doesn’t think it’s worth the cost there will be a 30 day money back guarantee.
So, why am I telling you this? Because I want you to understand all the blood sweat and tears I have put in for the last 7 years to build an incredibly strong and trusted brand in the field of making money on the internet. I also back up every product I have ever sold with a zero hassle money back guarantee.
I am also a very public person. If someone needs to get a hold of me I have made it extremely easy for them to do so. In addition to the contact form on my blog – my personal cellphone number, email, and business address are publicly listed on every domain we own. Sure I get a lot of solicitations and crap but it’s more important to me that people get ahold of me if they need to. As I said before I speak at many conferences all over the world and have no plans to stop any time soon. I am not hiding from anyone.
My mom says since I was born I always tried to be the hero to everyone. I still have the problem. I don’t care who you are or what you do or even what you have said about me previously on the internet. If I think I can help you and I have the time I will. Ask anyone who has ever met me in person.
I wrote last week about where there is trust there is always someone willing to buy it. Our brand has become so trusted and authoritative in the space of making money online that we have occasionally selectively licensed out the use of our copyrighted photos to companies.
But in my opinion people like this David Sullivan guy are just outright stealing trust… Using my face to promote… well just look at his site. It’s my nightmare.
In the Sullivan case we fully expect to be awarded a 6 figure judgement + legal fees. We have Google, the FTC, and most importantly the law on our side.
Shoemoney is the main man behind….. Who am I kidding? You already know who he is!