I was recently tipped off to a court case involving the job board network RegionalHelpWanted. In the case, they claimed exclusive rights to the use of “Helpwanted”. Here’s a link to the case. They are suing a company called “Olson Media” which I’ve never heard of. If I had to guess that might be the owner of LocalHelpWanted.net, but don’t quote me. At the bottom of their sites in the footer they say “we are not affiliated” with several other job boards and RHW is among those listed. The case was filed 7 months ago so it may have been settled already. But if anyone knows more about this story give me a shout.
Here’s the gist of the suit:
Through RegionalHelpWanted’s advertising, online coverage, and continuous and exclusive use over a period of nearly 15 years, RegionalHelpWanted’s geographic descriptor + “help wanted” trademark and naming convention (the Case 1:14-cv-03611-WHP Document 2 Filed 05/20/14 Page 4 of 45 5 “REGIONALHELPWANTED Mark”) has acquired distinctiveness and secondary meaning in the minds of consumers, such that a person encountering websites, advertisements and other materials displaying a geographic descriptor + “help wanted” and offering similar services, is likely to believe that the source or sponsor of those websites or advertisements is RegionalHelpWanted, or that they are affiliated with RegionalHelpWanted.
RegionalHelpWanted has prior and superior use of the REGIONALHELPWANTED Mark over any other entity in the world by using the marks to identify the source of goods, services, and information through its Internet websites located on the 452 domain names that are identical to these marks.
Full Documents are on Pacer.gov
I’m not a laywer but I thought generic names were not able to be trademarked. Though if I read the above correctly they appear to be after any job sites that have a specific region in front of the help wanted domain name. There are other “Help Wanted” sites such as HelpWanted.com that have existed for many years. HelpWanted.com appears to be an affiliate of Indeed.com. I’m not sure who owns LocalHelpWanted.net but to the average job seeker I’m not sure they would know the difference between the 2 companies other than the design of the website. They both do the same thing.
Since RHW was bought by OnTarget Jobs a few years ago they seem to be in protection mode. This is a case that bears watching though. It’s curious because just about every job board uses the word ‘job‘ in it so does that mean any job board can sue any other job board? It could come down to which company was first to market. If in fact they are suing the owner of LocalHelpWanted.net that domain name appears to have been registered in 2006, well after RHW first came to market.
In the early days (1999-2000) when I ran FairfieldCountyJobs.com, RHW launched FairfieldCountyHelpWanted.com and started doing radio ads. People heard those ads and began confusing my site with theirs. I happened to be first in that market and it ended up being to my advantage because people were always telling me “oh I heard your ad on the radio” when they were actually hearing ads for FCHW. It gave my site extra credibility in the market.