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MetsOnline.net reportedly thwacked with trademark threats





http://www.metsonline.net/metsonline-ceaseanddesist.html

    MetsOnline.net Ordered To Cease & Desist

    MetsOnline.net site administrator Bryan Hoch -- a 20-year-old college
    student at the State University of New York at Rockland -- received a
    cease-and-desist order via electronic mail from Major League Baseball
    Properties dated July 25, 2002. The e-mail ordered Hoch to deactivate
    MetsOnline.net and transfer its domain name, as well as all
    information regarding its operations, to MLBP effective 5 p.m. July
    30.

    The order also threatened Hoch with further legal action to recover
    appropriate compensation for use of the Mets marks.

    Note: When Hoch placed a call to a Mets official, he was told that not
    only that the Mets were unaware of MLBP's actions, but that: "We
    really appreciate our fan sites, because they promote the game and our
    product. We hope you'll be able to keep on doing what you've been
    doing, and that's creating a great resource for Mets fans."

    The grounds of the order from MLBP are as follows:
      * "Your registration of www.metsonline.net violates the
        Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act ("ACPA") (15 U.S.C. 
        1125(d)), a federal statute which provides a cause of action to
        eliminate the practice of those who, with a bad faith intent to
        profit, register and use the marks of others as domain names.
        Given that (1) you have no trademark right in the Mets' Marks; (2)
        your intent in registering www.metsonline.net was to divert
        consumers from the online location of the Mets to your own; (3)
        you have intentionally failed to maintain accurate contact
        information for www.metsonline.net; and (4) the famous nature of
        the Mets' Marks, it is clear that you have registered and used
        www.metsonline.net with a bad faith intent to profit. Therefore,
        your registration and use of www.metsonline.net establishes a
        violation of the ACPA and other federal and state laws."

    The truth of the matter, however, is far different.

    MetsOnline.net does not profit in any way from the service we provide
    to over 100,000 New York Mets fans who visit the site each week. In
    fact, any revenue received from advertising goes directly to
    CIHost.com, our web provider, who charges us a substantial fee for Web
    hosting and excessive traffic.

    While we respect the rights of both Major League Baseball and the Mets
    as trademark owners and profit centers, we do not view MetsOnline.net
    as a competitor to Mets.com. Rather, we fancy ourselves as a
    complement. MetsOnline.net offers original editorial content and
    fan-friendly multimedia extras, the vast majority of which have been
    submitted by passionate fans interested in advancing popular interest
    in the Mets. Furthermore, MetsOnline.net has provided links to
    official MLB Web sites as an additional service to its users (and a
    potential stream of profits for MLB).

    Its also curious why Major League Baseball would find such fault with
    MetsOnline.net when it has been indirectly supporting the site for
    several years. Hoch, in fact, was afforded a job opportunity with the
    Mets during the 2000 season as a direct result of his efforts with
    MetsOnline.net. He spent that summer working as an unpaid volunteer to
    help upgrade and maintain Mets.com (prior to MLB's takeover of all 30
    Major League sites before the 2001 season) all the while openly
    administering the competing MetsOnline.net.

    Additionally, he has since received numerous press credentials to
    represent MetsOnline.net at New York Mets home games and other events,
    signifying not only the Mets' acceptance of the site as a legitimate
    media outlet but also their support for it.

    A main sticking point of the order is the since-discontinued line of
    products (including t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc.) that were offered for
    a brief period on this site, produced by CafePress.com and featuring
    the MetsOnline.net name but not the logo or writings of the New York
    Mets or Major League Baseball. While we recognize that this legal
    claim may have some independent legal merit, it is notable that
    revenues from such merchandise sales totaled just $16.00 (four
    orders), $12.00 of which was to Hoch's girlfriend.

    At the end of the calendar year, Hoch intends to use all remaining
    proceeds from the site (if any are available) to the Twin Towers Fund
    (www.twintowersfund.org). Unfortunately, such previous intent would be
    impossible to prove in a court of law, as it was not stated in print
    on the site.

    MLB Properties' demands are as follows:
      * 1. "Cease and desist from all use of the domain name
        www.metsonline.net and transfer that domain name to MLBP."
      * 2. "Cease and desist from all unlawful use of the Mets' Marks and
        any other indicia that creates the impression that there is an
        association between your company and the Mets and/or MLBP and
        confirm to MLBP, in a writing signed by an officer of your
        company, that it has done so."
      * 3. "Cease and desist from the sale of unauthorized merchandise
        featuring the Mets' Marks and fully disclose in writing the extent
        of your company's sales of this infringing merchandise, including
        the number of goods sold and the prices at which they were sold,
        the remaining inventory of the infringing merchandise, as well as
        the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the supplier(s) of
        such merchandise."
      * We intend to collect appropriate compensation for your company's
        unauthorized use of the Mets' Marks. The exact amount of our
        demand will depend on the information you provide to us,
        information we gather from other sources and the extent of your
        cooperation.

    Put simply, we believe that Major League Baseballs insistence that
    MetsOnline.net violates ACPA simply holds no water simply because we
    have never, in six years of operation, held an intent to profit (much
    less a bad intent to profit!).

    With the state of the game's affairs as they currently stand, Hoch
    (and hundreds of fans who have voiced their opinion to him via e-mail)
    feel that it is unfortunate that Major League Baseball feels that it
    must go after fan sites that provide nothing more than promotion and
    love for the game of baseball.

    MetsOnline.net is prepared to make whatever legal adjustments may be
    necessary to continue our service and mission statement of providing
    baseball fans with timely and entertaining reports concerning the New
    York Mets National League baseball club. This site has never been
    about making a profit -- it is with the intention of providing a
    service to fans of the Mets that would only increase their interest
    and enjoyment of the team.

      About MetsOnline.net: Since 1996, MetsOnline.net has provided New
    York Mets fans with a constant stream of original editorial and
    multimedia content devoted to their favorite baseball team. The site
    which appeared on the Internet before the Mets official Web site was
    founded by then-14-year-old Bryan Hoch, a native of Sloatsburg, New
    York. Hoch continues to administer the site to this day, but a team of
    unpaid writers who cover every angle of the Mets organization
    (including many that are not covered on mets.com) has since joined
    him. The site averages 10,000-15,000 visits per day and has been
    featured/cited in the Wall Street Journal, Newsday, MSNBC television,
    ESPN.com and the New York Daily News, among other media outlets and
    sources. The site has organized public events including two "Field
    Trip" outings to Shea Stadium in 2001 and 2002, and a well-attended
    "MetsOnline Night" at Mets manager Bobby Valentine's Queens-based
    restaurant earlier in July.

      Further info regarding Bryan Hoch: Hoch, 20, is a resident of
    Sloatsburg, New York, where he resides with his parents and brother,
    Shawn, 16. He is currently a full-time college student at SUNY
    Rockland, majoring in liberal arts, and is also employed as a
    free-lance journalist, appearing regularly as a baseball columnist in
    the Rockaway Wave of Long Island (www.rockawave.com) and as a periodic
    contributor to New York Mets Inside Pitch, the club's official
    newspaper. His past experience includes work as a writer and site
    maintainer for Mets.com. He can be contacted via e-mail at
    bryanhoch@metsonline.net.

                                                                    BH/jcm




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