LOS ANGELES—According to Catherine Dunn of MindGeek, that company is already the registered holder of several Men.com trademarks internationally, and it is not aware of any administrative proceedings against any of them at this time.
But a quick look at the Men.com trademark application here indicates that one international place where MindGeek doesn't have a registered international trademark is right here in the United States—and in fact, Adam Segel, CEO of OLB Media, which has been a leader in gay adult content for over a decade, has filed an objection to MindGeek being granted a trademark for Men.com in the U.S.
According to Segel, in May, OLB received a "cease and desist" notice from MindGeek's attorneys, demanding that OLB stop using the word "men" in, among others, the URL to OLB's popular website StraightMen.com, claiming that the use of the term "men.com" as part of that URL was an infringement on MindGeek's trademark. Just one problem: MindGeek hadn't yet been granted a trademark on "Men.com," even though the company had first filed an application for the mark on August 5, 2016.
"I looked up their [trademark application] after receiving their letter telling me I was in violation of it and to immediately hand over my URL," Segel told AVN. "I saw that it was not granted but was still in the approval process. I contacted our attorney and she explained that we were still within the window to contest their trademark so I filed a 30-day objection and we sent MindGeek a reply to their letter. We told them we were not handing the URL over to them, that they jumped the gun because their trademark isn’t approved yet, and that we would be willing to work something out with them."
But according to Segel, MindGeek never responded to his letter.
"The 30 days expired, and there was still with no word from them," Segel added, "and last week I filed a 90-day objection that will require them to respond (to the trademark office, not to us). The objection is based on the fact that the term 'men' is much too broad to be trademarked. Based on their letter to us, I can only presume they plan to exploit the trademark, if received, against any sites with the word 'men' in their title and I do not think that’s right."
Segel's attorney, Karen Tynan, agreed.
"We have to stand up to MindGeek," Tynan stated. "We don’t know how many other sites they have contacted with similar threats, or how many will follow if the mark is granted.
"This is legalized harassment and extortion," she opined, "from a company that has already taken over a large sector of the adult business, and is apparently hungry for even more."
A look at the home page for Men.com shows that its copyright is registered to "MG Cyprus Limited," the "MG" apparently referring to MindGeek, and it contains an address for MG Billing Limited at 195-197 Old Nicosia-Limassol Road, Dali Industrial Zone 2540, Block 1, Cyprus as well as one for "MG Billing US Corp" in Burbank. The site also contains the phrase, "Trademarks Licensing IP International S.À.r.l," suggesting that at least some European body recognizes MindGeek's Men.com trademark there—but that's not something that worries Segel.
"Right now I am focusing on the U.S. and have not thought about or looked into any other jurisdictions," he said. "This is a shocking claim with wide-ranging implications for adult businesses. We cannot allow a single corporation to trademark a word used in thousands of adult websites. If MindGeek is successful, this could allow them to demand the handover of any adult site that uses the term 'men,' positioning them to take over a large swath of the gay adult industry."
As of June 6, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had received a request for an extension of time to oppose the granting of the mark, which suggests that other companies that use some form of "men.com" in their URLs or the titles of their websites may wish to join OLB in its opposition.