Uber Takes On Beautician/Barber Over Her BeauBer Mobile App
There's a perception among some that the forward-looking tech companies throughout the country are more permissive in intellectual property concerns than other industries or marketplaces. And perhaps there is some truth to that. But certainly this is not without exception. For instance, you can bear witness to Uber going after a beautician over her stylist-booking app, called BeauBer.
Carolina Vengoechea, 45, tells The Post that Uber has demanded she give up the name of her beauty salon app, called “BeauBer.” But she has refused, arguing that the name is the combination of her two job titles, beautician and barber — and has nothing to do with the San Francisco-based company.Vengoechea says she has already turned down multiple settlement offers from the $60 billion Uber, which is hell-bent on destroying trademarks that include its name. Unless the company backs down, she said, she will be forced to face them in court next year.The fact that the portmanteau barely contains the word "uber" if you squint at it really hard is hardly any reason for Uber to have turned this into a trademark dispute. Let's just go down the list of reasons why this is ridiculous. First, these two companies are in wildly different industries. The fact that both have an app doesn't change that. Second, there is little potential for actual public confusion, given that the name in total and branding for BeauBer is quite different. Finally, the idea of Uber going after a sole proprietor in this way is ironic in the worst of ways.Fortunately, Vengochea appears to be the rare small business owner with a backbone when it comes to trademark bullying.
“I've already spent money on BeauBer,” Vengoechea said of her app. “I feel like settling is just giving up. I know I’m not doing anything wrong. Why do I have to settle just because they have more money than me?”Others seem to agree.
“Here, it appears that Uber has gone outside their normal zone of necessary protection and have opposed a mark which should not reasonably be opposed,” Steven Gursky, a partner at law firm Oshlan, said. “Perhaps being ‘uber’ wealthy allows them to be overly aggressive.”Which is a shame, really. It would be rather nice if Silicon Valley companies could lead the way in having a different attitude when it comes to intellectual property issues. Apparently, though, money does in fact corrupt all things.