Jason Gambert – New Low in the SEO Trademark Saga

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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 ( 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!

SEO Mystery Inc

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:

Korny, The Ban Wagon, 2 Cents, James Duffree, The Big Debate, Con Standards, Third World, NoTaHater and Not a hater.

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?

What do you think?
Should Jason Gambert be allowed to trademark SEO?
( surveys)

Will you be harmed if the SEO trademark is registered?
Do you provide clients SEO marketing services?
( surveys)

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.

Rhea Drysdale
Rhea Drysdale is Co-founder and CEO of Outspoken Media, which specializes in SEO consulting, link building, reputation management and social media. With more than seven... Read Full Bio
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  • Reilly O’Donnell

    he made it almost a year into the process without anyone noticing him…

    now he is obviously scrambling to try and make it through the process before his “genius” plan is foiled

    …whats the process for filing an official opposition?

  • Michael VanDeMar

    Reilly – the deadline for filing an NOO has passed, unfortunately.

  • Reilly O’Donnell

    that is unfortunate…

  • Josh Garner

    Wouldn’t it be funny if he were actually trademarking “PPC” and “SEM,” all the while gaining our attention on SEO? I doubt he’s that smart though….

    Crap…I hope I didn’t give him any ideas.

    On another note, I will be trademarking the words “yes” and “no.” All uses of these words in your polls must now go through my approval process πŸ™‚

  • TheMadHat

    “the industry has been riddled with used car salesmen, con-artists and rip-offs, resulting in a black-eye within the industry”

    Hello pot. Meet Kettle.

  • Web Site Design Orange County

    I am in the process of trademarking the entire english alphabet, so from hence forth anyone who uses said alphabet in spoken, written (digital or hard copy), pantomime, Kabuki theater, or even the Pony Express, shall owe me a small “stipend”.

  • Sarah Bird


    Thank you for really stepping up to the plate on this one. I admire you for standing up for what you believe in and going the extra mile here.

    Thank you Thank you Thank you for unmasking the alleged Gambert coalition.

    Keep up the terrific work!

  • Richard Burckhardt

    VERY nice reporting. Break out the Scooby snacks for everyone!

  • Natasha Robinson

    This is the funniest article I’ve read all year! Rhea You Rock!!! I love the Scooby Doo references!!!

    Per my article at Sphinn: If I were Jason, I’d pay no attention to the naysayers. I’d keep doing what I’m doing. Hopefully he is doing this to create a search related product. And it the product is even remotely decent then many of the people who are saying this is outrageous will be the same people who will call him a “brilliant marketer” in a few months, write articles about how clever he is, invite him to speak at conferences, invite him to speak on their podcasts, debate him, write more articles about how they think he’s no good, which will only build his brand even more, etc. Hey it happened for to that Jason who called SEO Bullshit why not this Jason? πŸ˜‰

  • Anthony a.k.a. OldSchoolSEO

    OK, let me see if I’ve got this right. This guy who next to no one in the SEO business has heard of is trying to trademark a term that we have all used for years. to protect people from scam artists. And is doing so is misrepresenting himself… seems quite ironic.

    I know a patent attorney whose office is right next to the USPTO office in VA. I am going to drop him a line and see if he wants to be involved in helping the USPTO not get scammed by someone claiming to help others from not being scammed.

  • Steve Smit

    This guy is a total dick. I don’t want him stealing a word like that. Stealing things from the internet is a bad idea, the net can be very cruel.

    Launch Denial Of Service attacks stat!

  • cohnsey

    Do you think he has a shot to do it? It doesnt seem too possible to me.

  • Matt Foster

    Those two emails he sent me proved fatal! It’s like in movies, right when the villain is about to prevail, he goes into a monologue, which always proves to be his downfall. Always! If the villain would just shut the heck up, and put a quick end to his enemy, he would win! But there always has to be a monologue, or as I called his email in my blog, a “Manifesto”, which ends the reign.

    Lesson to be learned: Villians, keep your mouth shut!

  • Matt Foster

    Here’s the email header, if anyone wants to see the proof:

    Received: from smtpauth02.prod.mesa1.secureserver.net ([]) by home with MailEnable ESMTP; Wed, 23 Apr 2008 17:07:46 -0700

    Received: (qmail 944 invoked from network); 24 Apr 2008 00:07:44 -0000

    Received: from unknown (

    by smtpauth02.prod.mesa1.secureserver.net ( with ESMTP; 24 Apr 2008 00:07:44 -0000

    From: “Jason Gambert”

    To: “‘Matt Foster'”



    Subject: Peace

    Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2008 17:07:39 -0700


    MIME-Version: 1.0

    Content-Type: multipart/alternative;


    X-Mailer: Microsoft Office Outlook 12.0

    Thread-Index: AciliVsrDKmXE5RXQxyIe8LboF6ySgAB1HAwAAI5ZUA=

    Content-Language: en-us


  • Michael VanDeMar

    Matt – the monologuing thing is a trip, I hadn’t thought of that. πŸ˜€

    Thank you so much for being willing to provide that data, btw. That is the one that was needed to seal the deal. Without that it could have just been some random dweeb stirring the fire… knowing (and being able to prove) that it was Jason himself leaving all those comments makes all the difference.

  • jonson roth

    Fantastic detective work, Rhea. Let’s hope there’s someone in the trademark office who has the sense to consult the industry. That aside, I thought that you can’t trademark a term that has been in the public domain for over a year. That’s what I remember, anyway.

  • SEO Canada

    Some people are udderly unbelievable. Even if he managed to obtain the trademark he couldn’t launch a single lawsuit without the entire industry ganging up on him like how those open sauces operate with the free software foundation. Given the prior use of this term its amazing he has gotten this far.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    This guy is horrible and had not a leg to stand on! Take a look at a more recent post at SEO Chat:

  • Peter Hamilton

    more fun stuff about Jason:) The best way to be right is to cite yourself!

  • Mahesh Kapshikar

    I am shocked by reading this news….

  • fotosCR

    is unfortunate.

  • fotosCR

    is unfortunate.