Yup, the watch police exits. They don't carry a gun or a badge, but they do carry a law degree and an over-priced ball point pen/legal assistant.
And I am one of their most recent victims -- and I do mean victim.
To preface, even though my first amendment rights protect my right to free speech, for this post only, and because I will refer to something legal that happened to me, I will refrain from referring to any particular watch company by name. I think its such an obvious problem in the watch world, that names aren't necessary anyway.
I'd also like to state the super obvious and mention that websites like mine rely on traffic more than anything to survive. So as a marketing strategy, we're always trying to do things that generate traffic, and get people to read our blogs. And this is especially true when it comes to search engine optimization.
So, what did I do that was horrible?
I bought a domain name that included a certain watch company's name in it.
The letter I got from their lawyer ordered me to "immediately consent to transfer the domain and registration to their client", because not doing so would "confuse and infringe upon their clients property right".
They refer to the anti cybersquatting protection act as proof, and then threatened to "amicably" come after me for up to $100,000 if I didn't do exactly as I was told.
The obvious question is if this domain was so important, why didn't their client already register it? But, I digress...
It was a very defensive and aggressive letter all at the same time. It had a total disregard for who I am, and what it was I was doing, and if what I was doing was even good or bad for "their client".
To illustrate, I will refer to similar situation that ended exactly as it should have. And the company in question was Ferrari.
Back in the day, I registered a different domain name that referred to a very specific Ferrari model/brand, and Ferrari was extremely aware that I did so.
They contacted me too, but the correspondence I received from Ferrari was very different. They kicked a couple tires (no pun untended), and realized I was nothing more than a fan. One of millions of people who love the prancing horse. And they embraced that fact. They sent me constructive criticism, and even offered high resolution photos and logos to make my site better.
The same cybersquatting laws were in place then as they are now, but the difference is Ferrari used logic and realized I was an opportunity, albeit a small one. And squashing me a like a bug had no positive effects for anyone.
But there's another truth as well.
Unlike Ferrari, who's cars are at the pinnacle of automotive prowess, literally on the cutting edge of what is even possible in the automotive world and speak for themselves, the watch company who's lawyers contacted me today, no longer makes "innovative" or "interesting" watches.
They're boring, technically speaking 'middle of the road', and extremely overpriced. A shadow of what they once were. In fact, today they are the antithesis of what once made them great. The antithesis of their founding principles.
So, no wonder they attached me like they did.
The only way to preserve their reputation is to continue to brainwash consumers via advertising campaigns, celebrity endorsements, and making sure they control as much as possible of what ever is said about them.
And that included me, because somehow I was perceived as a threat. Their insecurity must be at such a high level that even low production sites like mine warrant the wrath of their lawyers in the form of a $100,000 threat, all the while hiding behind some cybersquatting law.
Just consider that for a while and try to put that into perspective.
And now think of the alternative:
Like Ferrari, they could have "touched base" to see what I was up to. Making sure I was not really a threat. And if in fact my website was that noticeable, why not stroke me a bit? Why not make me go "go go ga ga"? Why not send me a watch so I could go "ooo ahhh" and then stroke them back with an awesome review?
In other words, instead of spending thousands to send me a threatening lawyer's letter, why not spend a heck of of a lot less and turn me into an asset? Turn me into a life-long fan, or at least someone who would come to their defense, because guess what? We're talking about a polarizing company and a little extra defense from a 'new adoring fan', wouldn't hurt.
It shows a lack of foresight, the same lack of foresight in their watchmaking.
And it's sad.
Of course, I replied with compliance.
I have no time for lawyers let alone access to an extra $100,000 to throw away on some bullshit.
Instead, I immediately opened my blog and wrote this post instead.