After 2 months and 7 days of operation, Canon Camera Shop – an AWS site selling Canon cameras and accessories exclusively – has been taken down.
This comes after I received a certified letter from Canon U.S.A., Inc. yesterday afternoon. They feel that my use of the domain name canoncamerashop.com conveys a false impression that I am affiliated with or authorized by Canon. They said that my use of the domain name is intended to attract and divert consumers who are strictly searching for Canon’s own site.
They say that my use of the domain constitutes trademark infringement, false designation of origin and trademark dilution (I’m not too clear on what those last two are, to be honest). They say that I am creating the incorrect impression that people will be dealing with Canon when they contact me.
They demanded that I immediately change the name of the website and leave out the word Canon and any other Canon trademark, immediately cease any and all use of the canoncamerashop.com domain name, arrange to transfer the domain name to them and agree to not use in the future any designation containing the word Canon, as a domain name or otherwise in a manner that gives the impression that I am affiliated with Canon.
They wanted to be notified within 10 days of the letter (which was dated May 5). That notification was sent a few minutes ago via fax.
In order to give some idea of my feelings, here was my response:
May 12, 2005
Dear Ms. -Last Name Removed-,
I received your letter dated May 5, 2005 yesterday afternoon, May 11, 2005.
I will be happy to comply with your demands. I have taken the Canon Camera Shop website down and I have redirected the canoncamerashop.com domain name to http://www.canon.com. If you will initiate the domain name transfer, I will approve it.
I do want to say, however, that some of the assertions that you made in your letter are not accurate. My “use of the Canon name” is not “intended … to attract and divert consumers whose only interest is to search for Canon USA’s own internet site.” That was not my intention at all.
I am a fan of Canon products. I could have created a shop about anything. Yet, I choose Canon cameras and accessories. Not just cameras. Not just digital cameras. But Canon cameras. Why? Because I am a fan of Canon products. I recommend them and use them (I have a Canon Powershot A80). I’m a fan of the company. I keep tabs on Canon’s stock price waiting for a good opportunity to buy. All of that changes just a little bit today.
In the header of all of the pages on that website, you could see “The Unofficial Shop of Canon Fans”. Unofficial because it’s not affiliated with Canon. Fans because that’s what I am. In the footer on every page, you could see “We are in no way affiliated with Canon Inc. We’re just fans of their products.” Again, not affiliated and fans, which is 100% true and not at all misleading.
This was a fan shop for Canon products. I was considering creating a community for Canon fans in the future because I generally create websites about things I like or things that interest me. But, in line with your demands, I have now agreed not to buy a domain name with the word Canon in it ever again. And so, another thing changes. My admiration of the company changes, as well. You can consider me one Canon fan changed, for whatever it’s worth.
Even though I am disappointed in this development, I am still a fan of Canon and I would still like to promote your products. I would like to know what the rules are for doing so. Can I promote your products as long as the domain name is generic? Please let me know.
I will await the domain name transfer request e-mail. In addition, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m not going to fight because… well, what’s to fight? They are right about some things. I am using their trademark in a domain name. I understand that. If they want it, they can take it from me. I also understand (or have heard) that if they don’t defend their trademarks, they can lose them.
At the same time, I’m being dead honest: I’m a fan of them. All I was doing was promoting their products. I was not trying to… confuse people, steal their traffic and so on and so forth. Never even entered my mind. I wouldn’t do anything like that because I couldn’t in good conscience.
If I was them, I would want people to do what I was doing. I mean, I could understand it more if it was a valuable domain. Perhaps canon.com or canonusa.com or even canoncameras.com (which redirects to http://www.uniquephoto.com?) But, canoncamerashop.com? I didn’t even like the name very much when I bought it. But, I wanted to start a fan shop for Canon stuff because I liked them and it was the best I could find.
So, where to from here? I still have the design and it is entirely possible that I will open a generic camera shop – but, this one won’t just sell Canon stuff.
(Screenshots of the site as it was when taken down: Top – Bottom.)