back to article Phorm in phormulaic logo phorm storm

It's come to our attention that "pimp my data" outfit Phorm may not have been as ground-breakingly creative as we'd have expected when knocking together its logo. The logos of Phorm design and Phorm Compare if you will the logo of Sheffield-based Phorm Design (top) with that of the world's favourite adware company. Quite …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tricky...

    They're in radically different businesses so trademark damage will be hard to demonstrate...

    ..although bad phorm has a pretty terrible reputation, and that's likely to brush off onto good phorm.

  2. Florence Stanfield
    Thumb Down

    Just Typical

    I am not suprised by this at all, they wish to copy our data also under the flag of protecting us wouldnt trust the pimp firm an inch. He seems to have the moto what is yours is mine and what is mine is mine.. Time the ISPs took off the rose coloured glasses and saw this companies true colours..

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not worth going to court over ...

    ... they will be called something else next year.

  4. Slaine
    Thumb Up

    phormulaic phantasy

    see - they can't even rip off someone else's logo without getting it mixed up

  5. Shinobi87
    Alien

    sue them

    sue them for everything they have! tell them that their recently dealings have made the public fear their name and thus yours! bring them downnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But we anonymised it...

    Phorm anonymised Phorm Design's logo then allocated a cookie to it and redirected it a few times before they copied it...

    So that makes it ok then... nothing illegal there... and, so what if it was illegal... as we're such an ethical and honest bunch at Phorm we can do what we like...

  7. James Pickett
    Thumb Down

    Never mind the logo...

    What about the name? I assume good Phorm registered theirs..?

  8. Richie M
    Pirate

    fantastic

    lol this story has made my day!

    I'm no legal expert but I reckon Phorm Design have a good case, along with bringing the name into distripute (spl?)

    DIE PHORM DIE! (not Design, the crap one)

  9. Ash
    Happy

    Personal opinion...

    I wouldn't use that Sheffield company for fear of it being linked with (previously) 121 Media, purely because their branding is so similar. I view the logos to be so similar that it bring an image of a subsidiary company or franchise.

    There you have it, proof that they are indeed similar from a customers' perspective. You can now sue them for loss of business, because i'd never, EVER deal with a company I thought REMOTELY linked to Phorm (advertising).

  10. Toby Rose
    Go

    Out of Phorm

    Time for the Sheffield designers to come up with another logo! They don't want to be associated with these lot do they!

  11. Paul Talbot

    Name

    if I were the design company, I'd be more worried about the fact that the name has become a byword for scam artists than anything to do with the logo...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New Standard.

    You all misunderstand. This is a new standard in original logos to go along with the new standard in privacy. Look at those big bad google with their logo. Their logo is much worse then Phorm. Neener neener neener.

  13. Mike Crawshaw
    Go

    It might....

    work if they do take them to court. With the sheer volume of negative publicity surrounding Phorm (Data Whores), a very-similar logo could be argued as having a negative impact on Phorm Design, and thus leave Phorm Design with a case for damages (lost revenue - potential clients assume that they are connected with Phorm (the Big Bitches) and thus take their business elsewhere).

    I've seen court cases succeed on flimsier grounds than that!

  14. 3x2
    Thumb Up

    Err

    Phorm's entire business plan is based on co-opting everyone else's work. Hi-jacking your corporate symbol from the mass of 'free content' that is the Internet is entirely appropriate.

  15. Stef
    Paris Hilton

    close, so close

    however, even though I want to scream "SUE THEM" it would have to go to a court of law.

    While there is no doubt that the logo is derived from the earlier Phorm there are enough differences that mean they could get away with it. The font is different as are the treatment of the letterforms (i've just had a play with them in photoshop). They've got a decent designer to take the original Phorm logo and morph it just enough to make any legal comeback in doubt.

    sneaky bastards.

    PH 'cos she knows her logo's

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Confusion

    I'm sorry to say that I would certainly have been confused if I had seen that logo on the side of an office of a company with the same name. I would have assumed that they were related, possibly through acquisition, and as a result would have warned people I knew, to stay well away from them.

    I think therefore, it is quite reasonable to assume that there could have been collateral damage to the "good" Phorms reputation.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is the donation account

    I bet I am not the only person which will be extremely happy to donate towards their litigation costs.

    Anonymously, as I happen to work for a one of the Phoem Phimps nowdays.

  18. g e

    If they sue

    I'll send a fiver to their legal fund. Anyone else in?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Fighting fund?

    How about if someone establishes a fighting fund or pledgebank to help fund good Phorm's fight to stop bad Phorm blackening their name and plagiarising their logo?

    I'd pledge £20 (or more) to the fund to see these parasites taken down.

  20. Alex
    Flame

    true to phorm

    Well it appears K*nt's company are setting a 'Gold Standard' in breaches of trust, morals & decent business practice. but then parasites like K*nt have been selling iron pyrite since gold rushes began!

    If I was a designer in Sheffield I'd be undertaking a re branding exercise and stinging K*nt & co for the costs & dephormation of your business name!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    No Win, No Fee

    There must be some charitable (sic) legal outfit who will take this on as a No Win, No Fee case. Just for the publicity. Come one guys...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trademark

    I'm pretty sure that if Phorm Design had registered their trademark that the Phorm Phuckers would go down in a court. Phorm the phuckers have done appreciable harm to the brand of Phorm Design and deserve to be sued, and forced to change their name to "scurrilous spying sossidges".

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    trademark

    By looking at the logo from good phorm, and i know it's very small but hasn't it got the little (r) under the o. If this is true then does it mean that phorm is a registered trademark of phorm design. Because if that is true couldn't they sue bad phorm for trade mark infringement with in the uk.

    Also i agree that if i was sent a letter from good phorm about something then i would automatically associate it with bad phorm.

    Paris:- because she couldn't tell the difference between good and bad

  24. Man Outraged
    Flame

    Why not pledge for a real court case?

    Why not pledge yer money at a real court case. The people vs. BT PLC.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the name?

    If you recall the battle of the apples, that only became an issue when apple (guess which!) started operating in the music industry.

    If they are in distinct businesses or geographically separated then it's not normally a problem, thus bob the butcher and bob the builder don't have a trademark dispute.

    >Confusion

    If you want design work done are you going to accidentally give your business to bad phorm?

    If you want a creepy snooping possibly criminal wiretap done are you accidentally going to give your business to good phorm?

    No confusion.

    I suggest a name change, good phorm to erm.. "good phorm" - the pun still works see.. and bad phorm to "Nosey wiretapping possibly criminal scum suckers from hell". Should sort out the too quite nicely.

  26. alistair millington Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I like this

    We already brand him (the sheffield design company) "good phorm" against the "bad phorm".

    NIce pack mentality El reg readers have developed..

    Give it a few months and they won't have the clout to defend the legal challenge...

    :)

  27. dephormation.org.uk
    Stop

    Kent: All your content belong to us

    This is the Phorm modus operandi.

    Steal valuable content from people who take time to design and create it, and use the keywords obtained to advertise third party sites.

    And assume the consent of the creator, because its waaay too difficult to actually bother asking for permission before you gorge on the juicy luscious forbidden fruit.

    If content creators don't want to splatter ads their content? They get ripped off and exploited, but that's ok because Simon Watkin @ Home Office says so. The consent of the creative types can be assumed.

    Complain to your MP, and get these evil chimps stopped.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Phorm sometimes pay...

    ... if the story about them paying for the phorm domain name is true, then they must have been doing some searching around the internet to see who else was there. It would be very hard to prove that they had not seen phorm design's logo during their travels.

    Coincidence ? - unlikely.

  29. Thomas Silver badge

    Re: Apple

    Thinking about Apple v Apple isn't very helpful here - Apple Corps (the Beatles lot) first sued Apple Computer (as was) in the late 70s. The only reason that Apple Computer entering the music industry made it all flare up again was that they'd agreed not to enter the music business as part of the first settlement.

  30. Brad

    Re: Not worth going to court over ...

    You're obviously not a lawyer.

  31. Geoff Mackenzie

    I'm skint ...

    ... but I'd throw in a tenner.

  32. Ferry Boat

    LONG LIVE SHEFFIELD!

    Errr... am I on the right forum?

  33. David Pollard

    Psst... Copyright 1998-2003 W3C (MIT, ERCIM, Keio)?

    See, e.g., http://www.w3.org/Voice/2003/ir/489/489.txml

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Spot the similarity

    http://www.somerset.gov.uk/images/feature/feature_SouthWest1.gif

    http://www.da-net.dk/images/Prodigy.jpg

    Anyone else spot the similarity between a outsourcing venture's corporate logo & a cover by a certain band?

    Skull & Crossbones (Self explanatory)

  35. Paolo
    Dead Vulture

    Now I've been to the pub but...

    Are you f**king kidding me? "3 man band in Sheffield has same name as hated spyware outfit shocker" on the front page?

    Come on, are you phoning these articles in from the pub?

  36. Matt Thornton
    Alert

    Good phorm...

    Perhaps off-topic, but Good Phorm's gallery browser is extremely Cover Flow-esque... be interesting to know if they had that before Apple / pre-Leopard... these guys could retire off proceeds of the various lawsuits they might have on...

  37. Alex

    @Paolo

    Welcome to Friday afternoon at The Register.

  38. gothicform

    All in the Overlays

    If you can overlay one over the other and they match up then you have copyright infringement regardless of whether there's also trademark infringement.

  39. PReDiToR
    Thumb Down

    Nissan Computers

    Nissan Computers vs Nissan Motors

    http://www.nissan.com/Digest/The_Story.php

    Not the first time someone big has tried to steal the little guy's logo/name.

    This has been going on just about forever.

  40. Anteaus
    Unhappy

    Unfortunate

    Unfortunate for the design company though, since even if they win they'll probably want to change their logo. Even if they stop the data-pimpers from (mis)using it, the association is now too strong to go away.

    About as unfortunate as if you'd started a company called Swastika Designs in 1930. :-(

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Shouldn't it be...

    "Sheffield design company cries *phoul*"?

  42. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Trademark law in a nutshell

    Good Phorm have taken the trouble to register their trademark and have used the little R symbol. This gives them quite a lot of protection under the law - with one proviso (see below)

    Bad Phorm have chosen to use the weaker TM on their logo. Anyone who wants to assert a trademark can include the TM. It does not need to be registered and no money changes hands. HOWEVER in exchange for being cheap, courts are unlikely to be sympathetic when that trademark comes into conflict with a registered mark.

    There's an obvious risk of confusion - 'Phorm' is not a word in the dictionary (which is one defence out of the window - you could start a company called Apple and still be protected) and both companies are in the Internet business (which would be a problem if your Apple startup was a computer company).

    If I was Good Phorm, I'd love to know how Bad Phorm can claim to have independently hit upon their logo design - right down to the font. That takes coincidence too far.

    So the name and the logo of Bad Phorm could, and should, be seen as a case of 'passing off'.

    Actually Good Phorm *MUST* defend their trademark. If they choose not to do so in this case, their mark is in danger of become genericised, in which case *anyone* can use it. Good Phorm need to talk to their lawyers as a matter of urgency and get them issue a cease and desist order against Bad Phorm ordering them withdraw their logo and cease trading under that name.

    Bad Phorm can claim an innocent error, even blame their designers who may be liable for any costs of infringement. In any case it'd make sense for them to withdraw the logo and the name as they'd almost certainly lose in court.

    And if Good Phorm they need money, I'm willing to throw in a £20 to the Register defence fund.

  43. Mark

    True to phorm

    Even the bloody type is identical. If the design agency was to start a fighting fund, I'm sure he'd be inundated with offers - I'd certainly chip in. War by proxy is still a worthy cause in this case.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Got if from the magic routing cookies perhaps.

    Oh the irony -

    'Identity is everything - without it we are nothing' - phorm quote that is phorm without the bits gouged out.

    I do hope the Sheffield Phorm takes the Russian Phorm to the cleaners over this.

  45. Andus McCoatover
    Happy

    It first struck me...

    ...that Bad Phorm's logo is simply shot to bits...

  46. Jeff Deacon
    Unhappy

    Another snag

    I think it should also be noted that Good Phorm are also claiming copyright on the whole of their web page, therefore including their logo. More grist to their mill.

    BUT ... I've just been for a look at www.companieshouse.gov.uk and followed the WebCheck link. I searched for "Phorm". As I expected, I found the two registrations for Phorm UK Inc, a couple of branch offices of the outfit from Delaware. I also found a Phorm Designs Ltd with a Registered Office in the Fulham High Street.

    As I am unwilling to pay for the detailed file I am not certain that they are different from the Sheffield team, but it seems likely.

    Alas, the waters get muddier the more you look!

  47. James Condron

    Music..

    Nah.. see its like changing the odd note in a song here- they cut out the odd part of the letter to make it different.. Not very subtle, they could have at least changed the font, but fuck it- they'll have a new name soon anyway

  48. heystoopid
    Pirate

    What a bunch of .......

    What a bunch of corrupt pirates indeed , mind in the land of self induced paranoia , all one needed is a DMCA take down letter and they be history !

  49. steve hayes
    Coat

    I would also contribute a fiver

    Good Cause - I would however post it anonymously.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Not so much a base as an "all your phorm" rephorm metphinks

    To misquote, elucidate, edutain & annoy:

    CRIBS: You have no chance to survive make your time

    Reg: Take off every 'ZIG'

    Reg: You know what you doing

    Reg: Move 'ZIG'

    Reg: For great Justice

    http://www.scene.org/redhound/AYB.swf

  51. Bobby
    Stop

    Implied consent.

    'Implied consent' I think Ertugrul has gone a bit far with it this time..

  52. Kanhef

    trademarks

    http://www.lightphorm.co.uk/mm/bg.gif

    Enlarging it, you will find a small but distinct © mark under the 'm', not a ®. I'll let the lawyers have fun with the distinction.

  53. Dave

    @Mike Richards

    Of course, Bad Phorm might be able to use it as a good excuse to change their name ("because we were sued and agreed out of court") given how reviled they now are.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    @Bobby

    Maybe not. If Phorm Design don't defend their IP then it can be shown that they didn't and they may well lose the right to defend it in the future. This may indeed be "implied consent." IANAL but I think a cease and desist letter would be the bare minimum.

    If stories of Phorm's past are accurate (and I have no reason to suspect they aren't) then they may just have stolen the logo with either the assumption that they have more money and will win or that the small guy won't have enough resources to even take them on. To them the legal action, if any, may just be a cost of business.

    This one isn't going to just go away. If the phorm.com site is hosted in the US a DMCA takedown notice might do something. It also might get the poor guy from Sheffield sued. Do Phorm UK have any money? It's all well and good Phorm Design taking them on but if they've been set up to lose money on paper and all the cash is in the US operation can they be touched?

    Another thought... The font they used. I wonder if Phorm can demonstrate that the have a legitimate license for that font from the maker. If they've just lifted it then the font house would have a legitimate copyright complaint against them.

  55. Midnight_Voice
    Paris Hilton

    Parasitic Inphection

    On BadPhorm, we were aware of this several weeks ago. On 14th March, I posted:

    "I used to be in a six-person company called XYZ Ltd. (Not really XYZ, but that will protect their privacy). We'd been going for about 8 years, a small fish in a small pond, when a reporter called us up to ask about our involvement with the (Government) Department of Something-Or-Other's new XYZ initiative, which they were rolling out bigtime across the UK.

    Not us, we said, and thought no more about it. But after the third reporter had called us, we got worried. When we talked to our solicitor, he was clear that even though we were XYZ Ltd and this was just a scheme called XYZ, they were infringing our rights. And worse, that if we did nothing, then once this scheme was widely public, they could (and probably would) come back and stop us using our name, on the grounds we were passing off.

    Accordingly, our small provincial solicitor wrote a letter to the Department concerned, setting out our position, notably our claim to prior usage.

    Back came a six-page reply from the biggest name in intellectual property protection, very serious London law firm heavyweights. The first five pages huffed and puffed, but on the sixth page they blew their own house down, instead of ours, and announced that the initiative would be choosing a new name. No conditions, no non-disclosure, no gagging clause; just total and utter capitulation.

    You probably know that initiative - it appears in the press all the time - but I'm not going to name it.

    The letter cost us £600, but this was peanuts compared to losing and having to change all our business paperwork, product documentation, and the sign outside our door, etc.

    So if you guys at Phorm Design are watching (and I'm told you are), then make no mistake:

    (i) you need to act unless you want to lose your company name;

    (ii) Phorm may claim that no-one could accuse them of passing-off as you, but that isn't the issue;

    (ii) you should expect to win, and relatively cheaply.

    If you want to know any more, leave a message here, and I'll get in touch about this."

    But they didn't :-(

    Paris Hilton, as she could easily be conphused with a French hotel.....

  56. dervheid
    Pirate

    Take 'em to...

    the phucking cleaners!

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I suspect coincidence.

    'Creative' types tend to have actually quite a small stock collection of ideas (they aren't nearly as innovative as they like to think), and this coupled with the natural conservatism of many clients who buy designs tend to force a particular appearance. I notice that this appearance often dates quite fast BTW, as new 'ideas' slowly trickle into the design gene pool, then out again.

  58. Gordon Pryra
    Unhappy

    Director of Phorm Design in trouble

    I reckon someone is going to go to jail for the Phorm criminal activity.

    And guess what

    It won’t be any labour Politicians

    It will be the poor director of Phorm designs :(

    Can I hear the sound of a goat being scraped?

  59. Sceptical Bastard

    Are you reading this, K(u)nt?

    I've got this great idea! I'm going to start a web search service with a ranking system to match pages to queries. I'll call it Goggle (you know, like looking for something).

    I need a logo. I think I'll design a logotype based on a serif typeface. Hey! I could colour each character differently - a blue one, a red one, a yellow one, another blue, a green one, another red...

    Then I will sell out to K(u)nt Etrugul because he loves a rip-off.

    PS. How's your share price, you spiv?

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Time to change logo

    Do they know any good designers?

  61. Julian
    Thumb Down

    Not Actually About The Logo

    The Register has just posted and article about 'ComScore', a really very nasty bit of work that puts Phorm in the shade. Read all about here.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/12/inside_comscore/

    After reading this, you will really want to check for and remove any instances of this abomination as a matter of urgency. Apparently it will even obtain all the details of your online banking activity, for example.

    Ugh! Is this the future? Yes, but it's already here!

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