‘We own Ecolabs’

A small UK based NGO, EcoLabs, using the domain eco-labs.org, is being taken to the .org arbitration process by the US cleaning company Ecolab. The corporation claims that the NGO EcoLabs is infringing their trademark by using the name “Eco labs” and the domain should therefore be withdrawn from the NGO.

According to their website the UK NGO helps visual artists illustrate environmental problems and helps their businesses become more sustainable. Not much likelihood they’ll be confused with the cleaning company, then.

Believing they had a strong case, the NGO resisted threats to their hosts and registrars from the US company last year. This year, they are being taken to the .org arbitration process.

To ORG, this is clear corporate bullying. The term itself is pretty generic and there is no cross over or likely confusion. It appears the UK EcoLabs were formed and registered before the US company registered trademarks in the UK.

But for two years running this voluntary group have had to pay legal fees to fend off takedown requests. If you have a multi-billion dollar turnover, this is not a problem. But for a small NGO, a few hundred pounds for legal help can be quite difficult. Which is why we are supporting their call for people to give them a few quid to help their defence.

This is the second threatening claim over a UK group using a domain claimed as a trade mark drawn to ORG’s attention in a matter of weeks. We regard these as a serious potential infringement of people’s freedom of expression. It is very important, therefore, that small groups know their rights and are able to stand up for themselves.

We welcome EcoLabs’ intention to defend their use of the name and domain, and encourage ORG supporters to help them in their fight, by donating a tenner.