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MOZIs Doz too close to Moz?

That’s the question in a naming dispute which has arisen between the marketing software companies, both of which have undergone business and moniker changes in recent months.

Here’s the gist of the dispute: Seattle-based Moz — which ditched the name SEOmoz in late May — thinks the name Doz — launched in March 2013 by France-based Capseo — is just too close for comfort given that the two companies play in the same space.

Even though Moz’s name change occurred after the launch of Doz, lawyers for Moz believe they have the upper hand since they filed for a trademark application for the Moz name in August 2011. Doz followed suit with its own trademark filing in December 2012, three months before its public debut at the Launch conference in San Francisco.

doz11In an email to GeekWire, Moz Chief Operations Officer Sarah Bird called the situation “tragic” and pointed to a letter she sent to Doz CEO Anji Ismail in March in which she explained the rationale for sending the trademark takedown notice. Basically, Bird argued that the Moz and Doz products are very similar. She wrote:

“Allowing Doz to stay on the trademark register would substantially weaken our brands, confuse our customers, and probably cause all manner of major problems for us down the line as we have already sunk a lot of time, money and energy into Moz, and have built up substantial goodwill over the years with SEOmoz,” she wrote.

The letter continued:

“I realize that you may have sunk a lot of time, money and energy into Doz. And just to be clear, I don’t want to discourage you from offering complementary (or even competing) services to SEOmoz – just under a less confusing brand. So, we are open to suggestions about how to resolve this in the most friendly and least painful manner possible, but if we don’t hear from you soon we will just have to initiate the cancellation process.”

So far, the companies have not come to terms, and the legal salvos are progressing through a discovery phase. In April, Moz asked the registrar to take down the Doz name.

Sarah Bird
Sarah Bird

Ismail followed up with a guest post in the French online news site Rude Baguette in which the entrepreneur expressed anger and frustration about the trademark issue, calling the suit “meritless.”

“Why SEOmoz would like to cancel DOZ? No idea! “MOZ” is the ISO code for Mozambique. What if the President of Mozambique (Armando Guebuza) decides to claim moz.com? When approaching bigger companies be careful.”

Nonetheless, Moz still feels as if it has a stronger legal standing, and Bird tells us that she’s hopeful the issue can still be resolved without getting the lawyers involved.

“It is my sincere hope that Anji can continue to be successful with his product under a different brand,” Bird tells GeekWire. “And maybe he can use the Doz domain for a project other than inbound marketing software. I think he’s a very smart guy and he’s trying to solve tough problems. I hope he succeeds…. Trust me guys, I take no pleasure in this process. It sucks.”

Editor’s note: Moz is a GeekWire annual sponsor.

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