Back in October I received an email from the owner(s) of the domain Tozzl.com. It was a cease and desist notice for using the word “Tozzl” in some of my old blog posts and videos. Today, I received a second one from them. In both cases I’m telling the to take a flying leap…Here’s why. There is a lesson in Trademark, Copyright, and Fair Use here for anyone who cares to continue reading.
Years ago the domain Tozzl.com was owned by an independent developer who created a nice backchannel tool. I wrote quite a few blog posts about various ways to use it classrooms. I also made a tutorial video about it. Unfortunately, it no longer exists and the new owners of the domain are upset because blogs like this one rank higher in search engines than the new Tozzl website does.
The email that I received in October and again this morning threatened a lawsuit if I didn’t remove all references to Tozzl because it was their trademarked term according to them. Unfortunately for them, Tozzl isn’t actually a registered trademark in the U.S. Trademark database. Furthermore, using the word Tozzl in an editorial context is a fair use.
I responded to Tozzl’s email in October by pointing out that their claim had no merit and they should get lost. This morning I responded a bit more strongly by threatening to sue them for harassment and emotional distress. Then as I always try to do, I decided to turn this into a teaching moment and made this video about how to search the U.S. Trademark database know as TESS. You can watch that video on my YouTube channel or as embedded below.