Who would have guessed that I would have more to blog about during the off season than during baseball season?
Seems people are at it again, always trying to take advantage of the little guy. I got alerted last night to tweets coming from Chuck Knoblauch’s VERIFIED Twitter account promoting an Anti-Boston shirt. The email to me asked if we were partners, which was the first red flag. I logged in, went to Knob’s profile, and clicked the link. I was brought here:
As I am sure most of you are aware, the shirt on the right has been my best seller since 2007. Immediately, I felt the stab in the gut. I was being bootlegged, this time by Chuck Knoblauch. You can see the shirt for sale on my site here (this is the most recent version, produced in 2009. The 2007/08 version was grey with red print)
A bit of background: I was one of Chuck’s first followers on Twitter. Doc Gooden passed his account my way, because I helped Doc get his follower count up when HE first joined Twitter. Chuck and I hit it off right away, and I staunchly defended his identity, way before he became verified. He was so cool, that I sent him a box of shirts. Many of you have seen this pic:
Everything was all well and good. I got a b-day shout of from Knobby, and even sent him custom made baby apparel for the birth of his daughter. Now all of a sudden, I see the name and face I supported/defended/vouched for staring right back at me ripping me off.
First, I felt incredibly betrayed. Here is someone I went out of my way to be nice to, only to get stabbed in the back. I sent him a DM through Twitter asking about it and got the following response (he since deleted the conversation, so I only have screen caps of what he sent me. click pics for bigger versions)
I replied with clarification, and got this:
Now, I don't know about you, but if my name and face (and twitter) are being used without my knowledge, I'd be pretty pissed.
Not sure what the month ago comment meant, but I replied that I have ALWAYS supported him from day 1 and never once said one bad thing about him to anyone. Why would I? To me, my interaction with him was awesome.
After betrayal, I was infuriated. A few tweets and re-tweets later, and all of Yankee Universe has my back and is destroying Chuck's already tarnished reputation.
FOR THE RECORD: I do not think Chuck Knoblauch had any direct involvement with copying my shirt and posting it as his own. I do believe him, because he has no reason to lie to me. However, when your name and image (not to mention verified twitter account) are being used to promote an item, everyone thinks you are involved.
Once he claimed to not know anything, I acted on a hunch that I had all along. Obviously, I am not privy to details, but Knoblauch has some sort of business deal with some self proclaimed “music mogul” named Uncle Louie. I traced back the activity on Knoblauch's page and the Boston promotion all started with a re-tweet from Uncle Louie:
There were several more tweets in the timeline promoting the shirt. All of the bit URL's you see here linked back to the original store page that I posted:
Around this time I got an email from an inside source that shall remain nameless. This person confirmed what I already expected, which was Uncle Louie was bad business. He went on to explain how Louie has spoiled business deals with other athletes and entertainers. Due to advice from council, other details have been omitted.
Since it was getting late, I quickly made screen caps of everyone’s timeline promoting the shirts and went to bed:
The above has Louie tweeting links to the shirt to a ton of people. The one below really makes me laugh because it's sent to the members of New Kids on the Block:
This morning, I awoke to a few veiled threats from Uncle Louie, as well as a tweet to someone claiming to have no beef with me:
Got a message that said we should talk, told him he could talk to my lawyer.
He goes on to tell me that *I* handled this wrong, and he does not know me nor has he ever seen the shirt (which is odd how you can come up with an EXACT COPY of something you have never seen before)
Obviously, this is a flat out lie. When Knobby first started to work with Louie, we had exchanged a few tweets, including a direct message where Louie sent me his email address. I took the opportunity to send out my “Bald Vinny Pitch” in hopes that perhaps some of his connections could help me in some way. He tweeted me back that my shirts were creative and funny. I thanked him, of course.
Fast forward to Game 2 of the ALDS, Yanks getting beat by the Tigers. I get the following tweet (thanks to the site Topsy for being a great search utility)
Clearly, someone isn’t being truthful. Now, I'm no "Social Media Guru" but I'm gonna guess that ruining a clients reputation within his core target market is a no-no.
So, where does that leave us?
Well, I was alerted to the fact that Louie has applied to register the phrase as a trademark with the Federal Government:
Luckily, Federal registration is not required to establish rights in a trademark. Ownership of a mark can be proved by usage in commerce or publication. I have enough supporting evidence that I have been using the mark prior to Uncle Louie’s registration date of October 1st of this year. Last night I filed my own application, submitting dated evidence of usage dating to 5/17/2007. In addition, there are countless photos and witnesses that will verify I was selling the design for years (not to mention two separate, independent printing facilities that have handled my contracting since 2009).
I’m sure this will trigger a flood of unqualified legal advice. If you are a REAL and PRACTICING attorney in Trademark/Patent law and would like to work a slam-dunk case pro bono, please contact me directly through the form on my website, www.baldvinny.com as I do believe I need to file a formal injunction against his trademark claim.
Other than that, I would just like to send a heartfelt thanks to Yankee Universe for always stepping up and having my back. I know I am just a little guy, but it really makes me feel good to know that people wont stand for blatant stealing of ideas.