MINIUSA Responds to the MCO Legal Situation

On behalf of MINI USA, thank you for your comments regarding this issue, and we are sorry to hear of your concerns.

With reference to our trademark protection, we have no wish to prevent independent businesses from trading. However, just like any other business, MINI USA is duty bound to defend its MINI trademarks, and also needs to ensure that consumers clearly understand when they are dealing with official MINI outlets.

With reference to our trademark protection, we have no wish to prevent independent businesses from trading. However, just like any other business, MINI USA is duty bound to defend its MINI trademarks, and also needs to ensure that consumers clearly understand when they are dealing with official MINI outlets.

Also, we wish to make clear that we do distinguish between enthusiast and commercial websites. We welcome enthusiast-only websites, and they are free to use the MINI wordmark in their domain names, tradenames and otherwise, as long as they are clear that the sites are independent of MINI.

To ensure our trademarks are protected, we ask that third parties engaged in commercial MINI-related activities make clear that they are not officially licensed, and limit themselves to “fair use” textural references to MINI in their literature. For example, a commercial website may not use MINI in its domain name or tradename, nor may it make trademark use of the MINI mark. It must ensure there is no suggestion that it is an authorized, licensed, sponsored or affiliated MINI portal. Neither enthusiast nor commercial sites may use the MINI logo or any imitation thereof without permission.

We hope that you understand our obligation to protect the MINI trademarks. Again, thank you for your comments and concerns.

Sincerely, Emily Hatley MINI Division 866-ASK-MINI

This letter was sent in by Victoria Landau who wrote MINIUSA about the current trademark situation.

While what Ms. Hatley says is very understandable I can't help but think that MINIUSA is still missing a golden opportunity here. Letting a couple of a better MINI sites use the word MINI would really be in their best interest since they do so much good for the companies bottom line not to mention the culture around the car.

Written By: MF Staff

  • Jay

    This is ridiculous… I agree with a post on MCO I saw…

    Let's shoot are selves in the foot, Let's litigate.

    That says it all…. MINI… oops I just used their “wordmark”… just try and sue me BMW! What exactly does BMW think they will gain from this venture? Anger in the community… Poor PR… Poor Image…. I think the best thing we can do about this… is spread the word about it… tell everyone you know… MAKE this bad PR for BMW, then we'll see how they change their tune….

    Try to hype this issue up on non-mini related sites…. its time for politics people!

  • Ellen

    With all due respect, isn't Emily one of those folks who we talked to while waiting for our MINI to arrive, who never knew exactly where the MINIs were.

    Not knowing the term 'wordmark,' I googled it. First meaningful site was Carnegie Mellon which gave an extensive list of instructions about using those two words. Then came the U of Chicago Grad School of Business, and on and on … eeeeeeeegads .. what is the world coming to.

    Anyway, I'm ignoring what Emily said but I am surprized that they delegated the corporate answer. Maybe just buying time to see how far the ground swell goes.

    BTW, is this happening to MINI2 also?


  • http://www.geocities.com/blue_mini_cooper_2003/ drew

    Ellen wrote: BTW, is this happening to MINI2 also?

    I was wondering that too. And what about the scads of companies in the U.K. who have been using the Mini name for decades, some of which are now doing business here? Are they affected by this?

  • Mike

    Hi Gabe. I also received this letter today. Have you thought what might happen to the Chicago Mini Motoring Club? Mike

  • Ellen

    After I wrote my early post, I received a one paragraph version of the larger letter. Guess she knew I planned to ignore her. I'm rethinking that strategy and will try to win her over instead … ;-D

  • Frank

    I think her response was very fair. I fail to understand why so many continue to take this situation so personal.

  • David

    This was the same letter I received in response to my email to MINI. I have a feeling that this is very much the result of US lawyers not consulting with Munich on their plans to tighten up the “wordmark” re: MINI. I don't know how they can do the same for “Cooper” since that is a common name.
    The solution is easy enough — websites, enthusiast groups, clubs, etc, can ask BMW/MINI for permission to use their copyright for non-commercial purposes. Other users – aftermarket suppliers — might offer to pay a modest “good faith” royalty to use MINI in cases where they must specify say an air filter that fits a MINI. Additionally, if they state they have no relationship to MINIUSA or BMW, and that those companies don't specifically endorse their products, there might be a way out of this corporate silliness.

  • Jay

    Frank I'm sorry if I came off as some anti-legal activist, its just that if you follow this type of action through to its eventual end… it will eventually destroy the purpose of having trademark/copyright law… this type of nonsense along with the ridiculous mp3 debate shows a serious weakness in the US court system…. which is a lack of knowledge regarding technology and its proper use. And it gives many people the (false) belief that there should be no intellectual property….

    Just lit an already flaring spark… thats all… Jay

  • http://bridger.us/mini Gabe

    Ellen – to answer your question MINI2 hasn't been sent anything yet. They may be treated differently since they are based in the UK (there are more lawyers in Chicago than all of the UK!)

  • http://www.club-nouvelle-mini.com Laurent

    As President of The “Club-Nouvelle-MINI”(in France and Belgium), I'm really sorry to read this debat. In Europe, we haven't hear such thinks. But now that we know this, we will pay more attention. We are following the debats and if necessary, we'll support all MINI fan's in US by talking of this issues on our forums, with our dealers,…etc…

  • http://bridger.us/mini Gabe

    Merci pour votre appui Laurent!

    While I can't speak on MCO's behalf I'm sure that Mark and other involved really appreciate your support. Let us know if you hear anything about similar legal action in Europe.

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