Here’s our response to the “#emailgeeks” confusion and speculation that blew up in the last few days since we announced that we received a service mark for the term “emailgeeks.” There’s a lot to unpack, and we know you’re all busy, so if you just want the TL:DR, these are the facts:
- We didn’t trademark or patent #emailgeeks.
- We got a service mark that protects our automated email job listings website, EmailGeeks.com.
- #emailgeeks will always rule in Twitter, Slack, LinkedIn and the world!
And now, here’s the rest of the story …
#Emailgeeks. That’s what we all are. “Emailgeek” is a badge of honor. It describes who we are as professionals and our passionate participation in an ecosystem that has evolved over the years.
Whether you’ve been in the industry for decades or just discovered the power and sophistication of the channel – we’re all #emailgeeks.
I caught the email bug in 1998 when I joined a startup in Omaha, Neb. I could see how email promotes, educates and builds relationships with our customers like no other channel.
John Caldwell, who started Red Pill Email, and I became an email geek because of all the possibilities and the true complexity just waiting to be unlocked. Like you, we chose email as our career and our passion. In fact, back in 2009, John penned the term “emailgeek,” and its use has permeated the industry.
We take some pride in that and applauded all the iterations, from #emailgeeksail to #emailgeekbar and all the others. It’s one of the things that defines this community and its collective soul.
Because of our dedication to email and the people who work in it, we started a jobs website, EmailGeeks.com, that searches the internet for email-related jobs and then tweets out links to those job listings to the 2,299 Twitter users who follow our handle, @emailgeeks (which we set up in 2009).
We do this for free – we don’t earn commissions or affiliate fees if you click on the link from our tweet or get the job. John created email-geeks.com even before emailgeeks.com and has been publishing jobs to emailgeeks everywhere since then. John also created the LinkedIn Email Geeks group.
In 2020, many members of our community lost their jobs in pandemic-driven layoffs and shutdowns. We relaunched this mission to expand its reach and help our fellow email geeks who were job-hunting along with managing all the other stresses of living in a pandemic.
A few days ago, we announced that we had obtained the service mark for EmailGeeks. That touched off an explosion of commentary, confusion, misunderstanding, speculation and snark. We’d like to explain what’s happening because we care about what our community thinks of us.
- We got a service mark, not a copyright or patent.
We applied for, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark office granted us, a service mark for EmailGeeks.com. A service mark identifies and distinguishes the services of one individual or organization, even a unique service, from those provided by others.
A copyright provides legal protection to the creator of an artistic or literary work. You can copyright a book, article, slogan or song. We did not copyright “email geeks” or “#emailgeeks.”
A patent is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period of years, in exchange for publishing an enabling public disclosure of the invention. We did not patent “email geeks” or “#emailgeeks.”
I confess – we feel a real pride that the Patent Office recognized “emailgeeks” in the official Register. That’s pretty cool, right?
The service mark description in the document itself relates back to this mission: “Email marketing career services in the nature of employment hiring, recruiting, staffing and career networking services provided online.”
- We did it to protect our website and make sure no one outside the email community profits off its members.
We wanted to ensure that those who are invested in the community are the ones helping the community.
We did not do it to make a buck, restrict the Slack channel or Twitter hashtag, or play the villain in a Bond movie. Someone even implied that we were patent-trolling. Honestly, we never expected this negative reaction, and it stings.
- Nothing else has changed.
We hope this clears up the confusion about the “EmailGeeks” service mark and the speculation and misinformation about how it applies to hashtags, Slack channels and LinkedIn groups. If you still have questions or concerns, hit up Ryan at @ryanpphelan or ping him on Slack at ryanphelan.
Thanks for reading this all the way through. We appreciate your interest in finding out what’s really going on.