If you’ve never heard of Jason Gambert before, don’t be alarmed, the rest of the search community hadn’t either until Sarah Bird, General Counsel for SEOmoz, discovered he was trying to trademark “SEO.” The jury is still out on whether this is a real flesh and blood individual or an opportunist preying on the misunderstanding of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Someone is trying to trademark SEO?!
While working on SEOmoz trademarks in early April 2008, Sarah stumbled upon Jason’s progress and quickly alerted the search community to his success at getting to the publication stage. You can view the trademark application here and read the details of the SEO Trademark discovery by Sarah. For extensive coverage of the news, read discussions on WebProNews, Marketing Pilgrim, WebmasterRadio and Sphinn.
Why is Jason Gambert doing this to the SEO industry?
Below is a direct quote from Jason’s site, which appeared at jasongambert.com after Sarah uncovered the registration:
While SEO as a process has plenty of processes suggested throughout the community, there is no “approved” process by any governing body. Because the Search community has no approved SEO process, the industry has been riddled with used car salesmen, con-artists and rip-offs, resulting in a black-eye within the industry, and thousands of ripped off businesses throughout the country. We can change this with the SEO trademark.
My goal in owning the trademark for the word SEO is not to try to force people to change their SEO process, but rather, prevent companies from selling “SEO” as a service under false pretenses.
While everyone talked about what an outrage this is and how unjust it would be if this passed, only a handful of official Notice of Oppositions were filed with the Patent and Trademark Office. Skip below to see details of the SEO Trademark timeline of events.
While the vast majority of the search community rallied against Jason Gambert’s endeavor to trademark SEO, it appears at first glance that he is not without his supporters. On sites where conversations about the SEO trademark occurred, we find support from such individuals as www[dot]jasongambert[dot]com, SEO Trademark and Steve on WebProNews, as well as LocoSEO on my own personal blog. This could lead one to postulate that perhaps there are in fact others who believe, as Jason does, that one man should be allowed to hold the trademark for the entire SEO industry… that is, except for one, tiny detail…
Hold onto your Scooby snacks, every one of those personalities is Jason Gambert pretending to be other people!
That’s right, apparently Jason had so much trouble finding people to support his utopian dream for SEO standards, he felt that he had to resort to making them up. SEO Mystery, Inc. kicked into full Scooby gear as Michael VanDeMar and myself cross-referenced the IP address used to post the comment on my own blog (126.96.36.199) with both the comments made on WebProNews and other sites. Paired with the email that Jason sent to Matt Foster, CEO of ArteWorks SEO, we discovered (oh no Scooby!) that they were all one and the same person: Mr. Jason Gambert himself!
And, he might have gotten away with it, too, if not for us meddling kids!
Here are a few of his confirmed alter ego’s comments:
We also reported several suspicious accounts to SEOmoz that appeared to fit the same profile and comment pattern as the Jason Gambert covers on other sites. They confirmed that those accounts were indeed spam and the accounts and IP have been banned. Those included:
Our powers of Scooby detection found those nine, but SEOmoz reported twelve in total were banned.
Some of the comments from those accounts included:
Our hunch is that if a Sphinn admin checked the IP for Search Savior, they would also find a matching address behind the comment as the profile creation date and comment pattern so closely match the others:
We’ll let “Jason’s” actions speak for themselves and we ask that you draw your own conclusions based on the evidence before us. If Jason Gambert has such noble aspirations for the search community, why then is he hiding behind a veil of secrecy? And, is this the type of individual that should be responsible for setting SEO standards that everyone must follow before being granted usage of the term?
Timeline of SEO Trademark Events:
- July 26, 1997 – First verified use of the term “search engine optimization” as documented by Danny Sullivan was a spam message on a Usenet group and referred to as “search engine optimization service.”
- February 24, 2003 – First inclusion of “SEO” on Wikipedia by Sherwood Stranieri (references SEO as a process AND a marketing service, Jason is filing trademark for the latter)
- May 2, 2007 – Jason applies for registration of the “SEO” mark
- August 15, 2007 – The Trademark Office rejects Jason’s application
- September 19, 2007 – Jason files a second registration having “fixed” the original
- September 22, 2007 – Jason argues common usage of “SEO” is a process rather than his application for “SEO” as it refers to a marketing service
- January 2, 2008 – The Trademark Office rejects his application for a second time
- January 3, 2008 – Jason refutes the denial in a letter to the Trademark Office
- January 8, 2008 – The Trademark Office rejects the application for a third time
- January 9 & 10, 2008 – Jason responds to the Trademark Office with a revision of his application citing Wikipedia!
- January 14, 2008 – The Trademark Office agrees with his definition of “SEO” as a service and requests a “specimen of the mark in use”
- January 15, 2008 – Jason sends a screenshot of his “SEO” services site and he amends his description of goods and services (again)
- January 17, 2008 – The mark is approved for publication
- March 5, 2008 – The mark is scheduled for publication to begin March 25, 2008
- April 7, 2008 – SEOmoz uncovers Jason Gambert’s attempt to register the SEO trademark
- April 9, 2008 – SEOmoz files a Notice of Opposition to the SEO trademark
- April 18, 2008 – ArteWorks SEO files Notice of Intent to Fight SEO trademark
- April 24, 2008 – Rhea Drysdale files a Notice of Opposition to the SEO trademark
- April 24, 2008 – JE Hochman & Associates LLC files a Notice of Opposition to the SEO trademark
*Trademark history compiled from research conducted by Sarah Bird, General Counsel for SEOmoz; Jonathan Hochman, Hochman Consultants; and myself.