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Subject: HOA Trademark?
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Author Messages
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1263


12/13/2018 3:54 PM  
I know zip about this topic - or the process.

I'm interested because two of "my" neighborhoods have websites, and both have a non-Board supported, disgruntled website owner that tend to cast a negative light on the neighborhoods - old grudges, anger, etc ...

Has anyone done something like this that could be used as the basis to make the offending website owner - we know who they are - stop using the neighborhood's corporate name?

Looking for ideas ... thanks!
AugustinD


Posts:1886


12/13/2018 5:36 PM  
Does the creator of the web site lead the reader to believe it is an official site of the HOA corporation?

If yes, then this is serious. Have the HOA attorney send him or her a cease and desist letter.

If not, then the only recourse the HOA might have is to threaten legal action for corporate defamation. The bar for defamation is high. Mere opinion; hyperbole that is obviously nonsense; and similar are protected speech. Also, many states have statutes prohibiting "strategic lawsuits against public participation." If for example the HOA sued the creator of the web site claiming he or she was spewing defamatory remarks, when in fact the remarks were nowhere near defamatory, then the defendant could counter sue using the state's SLAPP statute.

Many boards try to shut down legitimate public comment. They should get thicker skins. Or maybe they do this because it's easier than trying to figure out, say, reserve funding.

If the creator of the web site is spewing falsehoods about a past or present HOA director, and is doing so maliciously and in a way that hurts the targe financially, then the past or present HOA director may have a viable defamation lawsuit.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1263


12/13/2018 8:30 PM  
Nothing defamatory - can’t approach it that way - hence the trademark angle ...

Would prefer to avoid cost of an attorney and if we did spend money, then trademark protection would be a better investment.
AugustinD


Posts:1886


12/13/2018 8:45 PM  
For what it is worth, I think the basis of a cease and desist order from the HOA would be that the HOA as a corporation has the legal, 'exclusive use of its corporate name.' Where I live (which is not Florida), a state statute for corporations includes such a provision.
MarkM19
(Texas)

Posts:371


12/14/2018 7:05 AM  
George,
This reminds me of an issue I had in Ca. a few years back. We had an Ex Board President that was very anti new board and was running to get re elected. He had a lot of access to our existing stationary and screen shots of our Water Tower that was used as our Community "Trademark" It drove me crazy when I would see anti board nasty messages on what was our community letterhead. I was told that we never officially Trademarked our Logo's by our board attorney. We could have gone after him but did not see it as a good use of HOA funds.


Luckily in our case after losing 2 elections by resounding numbers he and his nasty group gave up the fight to take by the board.
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3300


12/14/2018 9:36 AM  
Would prefer to avoid cost of an attorney and if we did spend money, then trademark protection would be a better investment.


Whats the point of getting a trademark if you dont pay an attorney to go after people?

At the end of the day, anyone can make a website and call it whatever they want. They can even re-name it after you go after them. Gotta decide what a good use of your HOA funds are.

GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1263


12/14/2018 9:56 AM  
An attorney is not necessarily required - sometimes just showing people is enough to get them to fold their tent.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:738


12/14/2018 2:46 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 12/13/2018 8:30 PM
Nothing defamatory - can’t approach it that way - hence the trademark angle ...

Would prefer to avoid cost of an attorney and if we did spend money, then trademark protection would be a better investment.




Many companies with deep pockets have tried and failed at going after websites and administrators that run company "x" sucks dot com. Nothing you can do about it.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:1263


12/14/2018 2:49 PM  
Understand, but in this case it would be a legal entity HOA reminding a small time homeowner ... fact with bluff might be enough.
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3300


12/14/2018 4:41 PM  
Gotta honestly ask yourself, is there anything we can do to shut this guy up?

The answer is probably "no".

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