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Would the real Zebra, please stand up? Realtor, blogger, sued

Daniel Rothamel, popular blogger, Realtor, and friend to many was sued on Febuary 22, 2011 in Seattle District Court demanding relief in regards to Rothamel’s use of the Zebra stripes “trade dress” violations. The suit alleges that Rothamel and the Strong Team Realtors have violated their trademark by using the zebra stripes and alleges use of their trademark “was and is calculated to cause injury to Plaintiff in the State of Washington” which is why they’re seeking $75,000 in damages.

In the online real estate community, Rothamel is well known as a blogger and speaker who has worked at Inman News and is an alumni columnist here at AgentGenius (AG), yet his focus is his real estate practice in Virginia which most agree is not easily confused with a coaching group out of Washington, yet the lawsuit has been filed and a legal defense fund has been set up.

It has been a long time AG policy not to comment on ongoing litigation and we will not enter an opinion one way or another, however, should any of our readers, writers, advertisers or sponsors feel so inclined to help Daniel Rothamel and his young family, his website with his contact information is here and we urge you to do what you can. Rothamel denies all claims in the lawsuit according to an Inman News interview yesterday.

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Mark Land via Facebook

    February 26, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Gotta love a good lawsuit. 🙂

  2. Dan Connolly

    February 26, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Here is their Facebook fan page. on.fb.me/frzgcd They only have 78 fans which seems odd since they started the real estate marketing revolution, you know 😉 The comments are starting to come in. This should be interesting.

  3. Ken Brand

    February 26, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    How to start a stupid-wildfire and burn your business to the ground. I think that’s what’s happening. The agressor is a crispy critter.

  4. Thomas A B Johnson

    February 26, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Channeling Spartacus:
    I AM THE REAL ESTATE ZEBRA!

  5. Bruce Lemieux

    February 26, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    For a marketing company, their branding is muddled. They are the Lones Group.. with a Zebra Report…. a Safari Club…? Cleaning-up and consolidating their own disparate websites and better communicating their own products would be a better use of their time instead of spending time suing another agent who doesn’t compete with them.

    Reviewing their marketing products, they look a lot like Hobbs/Herder. Hmmm, I wonder who had the original ideas when coming up with a product portfolio?

  6. Dan Connolly

    February 26, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    My prediction is that this will turn out like the “Columbus SEO” fight. After spending awhile on the USPTO site, I don’t see a registered trademark with the words Real Estate Zebra, Zebra Report, or anything related to the Londes brand. There are 350 or so registered trademarks with the word Zebra in them so I would assume claiming absolute control over the word Zebra is a little ambitious. I think the whole thing is an elaborate link bait scheme. How to move yourself from relative obscurity to some kind of viral phenom. Probably has something to do with the idea that there is no such thing as bad publicity?

  7. Fred Romano

    February 27, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I read the complaint and took a look at the websites… To me, the question is who copied who? They are both sites that have been online for several years… But how lame is the Lones Group for not having their own domain name and using the default WordPress theme!

  8. Melissa Zavala

    February 27, 2011 at 10:08 am

    While I understand that AG has a long time policy not to comment on ongoing litigation of this nature, you have to wonder why zebras around the world are not involved in some sort of class action suit 😉

  9. Coy Davidson

    February 28, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    As a blogger and real estate agent this story caught my attention after seeing it show up in various places on-line. However, since I am a commercial real estate broker, before reading about this story, I can honestly say I wasn’t familiar with Daniel Rothamel or the Lones Group, so I can offer an unbiased opinion.

    I understand trademark and copyright law can be a little tricky. The Lones Group may very well have a case. However in the court of common sense the suit appears frivolous and desperate. Based on what I have read it appears the claim that the Lones Group business has been damaged seems ludicrous.

    Furthermore, even if the Lones Group legally prevails, it has already lost dramatically in the court of public opinion and Daniel Rothamel wins. Angering the community which is your customer bases wasn’t the brightest of decisions and even if Rothamel is forced to change his branding, all the positive public support he has received has only elevated his personal brand and in the long run probably turns out to benefit him. Based on the word of mouth testimonials, I would hire Daniel Rothamel to sell my house. The Lones group has already suffered serious damage to the image of its brand with this suit that they may never able to repair.

    PS. As has been pointed out, The Lones Group on their website claims to be darn proud of starting the Marketing Revolution. Even if they hadn’t filed suit, if I were a residential agent I wouldn’t hire them based solely on that statement.

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