To monitor discussions around my Joomla/WordPress products, I have setup Google Alerts to inform me when my plugin names are mentioned.
A week ago I got a notification that really scared me. Someone had setup a new site, with my actual brand name being the domain, with a .co domain ending.
Background on my Products
I don’t want to reveal the brand name here given the situation, so I will use the word “Pool” instead of my brand to explain how things relate.
Over 5 years ago I have launched my Joomla plugin “Pool”, it was and still is hosted under a company-name domain (= so not under a “Pool” domain).
Given the time span and that my brand name is a little bit of a made-up word, the majority of the Google results of “Pool” will actual relate to the Joomla plugin.
A few months ago, I have launched “Pool” for WordPress and, as I have not found anyone using the name, called it “WP Pool”. So identical name as the Joomla plugin, but with the WP-prefix. This time I decided to host in under a dedicated domain and use wpPool.com for the WordPress plugin.
My Brand in Danger
Now back to last week: someone is filling a new website “pool.co” with life.
Concerning is that this relates to a WordPress plugin (with a SaaS backend) in the same space as my plugin, named “Pool”. It is not a competitor, as the use case is really different, but it is in the same niche (in our example: the “garden” niche).
There is already a lot of content on the site (e.g. documentation), however it is probably not launched yet as many things including sign-up and checkout are leading to errors.
Thanks to the documentation I can see that the product powering “Pool” has been around for at least 4 years, however under a different name. So that old product seems to be re-named to my product’s name. Great!
What stresses me is that I seem to get a search term competitor in regards to the brand name “Pool” and related searches (“Pool WordPress”, “Pool garden niche”).
So my existing search rankings seems to be in danger. At worse is that my new “WP Pool” product being a WP-plugin like my competitor might be confused with the other one.
This incident makes me realize that I don’t own any “Pool”-only domains (like pool.com or pool.net), I only own “wpPool.com” and “getPool.com”.
And I don’t have registered any trademarks to protect me.
I am now struggling to decide how to take action in this situation.
The options I see are:
- Communicate Open
As the rebranding of that other person’s plugin is not official, yet I am thinking about reaching out to the guy (I think I know who it is, it seems to be a European like myself, however from another country) to see if he even is aware of the name overlap.
What holds me back from doing so is that:
- this might be a sign of weakness (and the weakness is true given I don’t think I have legal options without the registered trademark)
- the guy seems to earn about 2-5x of my revenue with his product (his product is public on Envato’s CodeCanyon site under the old name , so I can do an estimations of his earnings), so he probably has more money to spend on a lawsuit than I have
- Get a lawyer
I could spend money on a lawyer for registering a EU-wide trademark and then sending the guy a cease and desist letter.
What holds me back is:
- that getting a EU-wide trademark costs me at least 1200 Euro + probably around 300 Euro for the cease and desist letter
- that the outcome of the above might be a lawsuit which costs even more
- see my point under 1. in regards to the guy potentially having more funds available
- Do Nothing
Well, I could also ignore everything and try to make my peace with that.
What holds me back is:
- that I think this could have a large effect on the visibility of my products given that his product is way more known (under the old name) and thus probably will become more known under the name, as well
- doing nothing is not my strength
Do you see other options or have experience with a similar situation?
Any advice welcome, thank you!