On May 7th, I received a trademark infringement / cease and desist email from a guy named Steve Roose, claiming that this website, Power Hour HQ, is in violation of his trademark for the term “Power Hour”:
Your entire website at www.powerhourhq.com is in violation of my trademark. You are sharing and promoting digital media with the term “Power Hour” of products that are not related to my company. This violates my trademark for “Power Hour” drinking games in the form of digital media. You are violating my trademark for “Power Hour” Serial Number 77805395 and Registration Number 3780534.
I will also be contacting viddler.com to have all videos removed.
Please remove any additional known content that infringes upon my company’s mark immediately. My legal team has been notified of this violation. Your expedited action and confirmation is appreciated. Any delay and continued infringement will result in legal action.
Initial response: You’ve got to be kidding me.
Upon further inspection, I discovered that through some oversight in the trademark office, Steve Roose of “Power Hour, LLC” had indeed been granted the trademark for the words “Power Hour.” It went into effect on April 27th, 2010. (See the trademark here.)
Wait, what? How?
A little background on Steve Roose
Steve runs a series of spammy websites where he sells a power hour DVD and power hour software. The main one is PowerHourGame.com.
The power hours all feature a character called “The Beer Man” and are essentially just PowerPoint presentations that burp. The graphics are terrible, and there is no music or sound other than belching every sixty seconds. Anyone who has done any other video power hour will recognize immediately that this is a pathetic representation of our favorite drinking game.
A few years ago, Steve somehow managed to get his DVD into Spencer’s Gifts, and has also listed it for sale on Amazon.com for poor saps to buy. He claims he has sold a total of 20,000 copies — which is a complete tragedy.
Now that Steve has been granted this trademark, he’s trying to bully all other power hour websites into shutting down with legal threats. He threatened Power Hour HQ. He also started harassing Ali Spagnola, the artist and musician behind Ali Spagnola’s Power Hour Drinking Game. He’s trying to wipe out ALL the power hours off the Internet except his own!
Steve Roose is a sleazebag and a bully. He didn’t invent the power hour. The term was in wide use years before he started selling his terrible power hours. Now he’s trying to use an oversight by the trademark office to commandeer the term and force out any “competitors.” We believe that Steve Roose is wrong and doesn’t deserve to own OUR term. And we’re not going to stand by and let him ruin power hours for everyone else!
Why Steve’s trademark is bogus
The term “power hour” has been around for years and years, and was already widely used long before Steve Roose began marketing his products. He didn’t invent the term or the power hour game, he just created one variation of it. Lots of other people have created power hour music mixes, DVDs and software.
Trademark law states that “Registration of a mark that is merely descriptive should be refused.”
Additionally, trademark law prohibits the registration of terms that have become genericized. Millions of people already use the term “power hour” to refer to this game and have never even heard of Steve’s power hours. His claim to “Power Hour” as a brand name is bogus.
It’s like if I suddenly trademarked the word “Basketball” and tried to sue anyone who sold basketball jerseys or Michael Jordan videos!
(I suspect Steve’s application only managed to slip through because there aren’t many binge drinkers in the Trademark Dept.)
How do we fight it?
Luckily for drinkers everywhere, Ali Spagnola has hired a lawyer and has launched a campaign to get Steve Roose’s trademark rescinded!
Ali created her own original power hour, consisting of 60 original, one-minute songs about drinking. She sells her power hour as a DVD online, and she also performs live power hour concerts and sells an audio CD. Ali has put a lot of work and creative energy into her power hour, and she is fighting back.
Ali’s lawyer has already begun the legal paperwork and accumulated large amounts of evidence for refusal of the trademark. Ali has shelled out lots of her own money to pay for the legal expenses so far.
However, the estimated cost to file the lawsuit and rescue “Power Hour” back from Steve is a whopping $15,000. This is where you come in. Ali is accepting donations to help pay for the costs, but she can’t do it without your support. Even a few dollars will help, and if you donate more, she will send you things like signed copies of the DVD, or fly to your city and do a live power hour concert!
To find out more about Ali’s legal struggle (as well as some of the incentive to donate), you can read about it on her website.
Donate if you can, and be sure to share this with all of your friends! You could even throw a power hour party as a fund raiser.
Also, you can feel free to NOT BUY Steve Roose’s products. That will help too!
What else can we do?
Well, first off, DON’T buy any of Steve’s power hours or products. Not only are they all TERRIBLE, but why would you want to support this jerk?
Secondly, you can use your free speech to help warn other consumers about how truly lame these products are.
Power Hour, LLC sells its power hours on several websites that allow public reviews and commenting. Feel free to check out the products and post your thoughts on them!
- Facebook Fan Page for Power Hour, LLC – Post your comments on the Wall, and also be sure to write reviews on the Reviews tab.
- Power Hour Video Download on Amazon.com – Steve is trying to sell a digital download of his power hour for $10! Share your thoughts in the reviews section.
- Power Hour DVD on Amazon.com – Write reviews of Steve’s belching power hour DVD
- Power Hour Software v6.9 on Amazon.com – Review the software version too.
- Power Hour Bachelor Party Software on Amazon.com – Another version of his lame software that currently has a 5/5 star rating! I suppose that’s what happens when ALL THE REVIEWS are written by “S. Roose” and other friends/family of Steve.
Please keep your reviews civil and make them about the quality of the products (not about this trademark issue)!
If we work together, we can save “Power Hour” for binge drinkers everywhere!