When you first signed up for a social media account, such as Twitter or Facebook, you probably thought it would be a cool way to keep in contact with friends, classmates, colleagues, etc. But did you ever imagine that it would result in you getting sued? Neither did we, yet this is the position that the co-Founder of Mikogo now finds himself in.
How it started:
In 2007, Mark Zondler registered a Twitter account: http://twitter.com/mannheim. Mark had plans to use this account as Mikogo was launched in 2007 and our company is based in Mannheim, Germany.
Introducing the City of Mannheim, their Legal Team and their Fail
Mark has now received a letter via registered mail from the City of Mannheim, which says that he must sign the letter and give up the Twitter account, or suffer the full force of a city’s legal team as they try to drag our a**es through the courts.
Are they serious?
But how can they do this? Just because they are a city (with no doubt an expensive and deadly legal team) and we are only a small private company, does not give them the right to push their weight around like this and threaten us.
Listen up City of Mannheim – we will not go down quietly!
The Twitter Mannheim account has never been used in a negative way, nor did we ever pretend to in fact be the City of Mannheim. Mark registered the account fair and square, just as any user would have done to get their personal Twitter account. So why does the City of Mannheim think they can flex their muscles like this? In my opinion, they could use another Twitter name, such as “city_mannheim”.
What does this mean for social media and you?
There are many other Twitter users who have accounts named after famous cities. And what about everyone else on the Web who has a blog, email address, or Facebook fan page that includes a city or famous location name? There are even people in Germany with Mannheim as a surname. Can they also expect a cease and desist order?
Well, we say NO! We might be a small private entity, but we are far from trembling in our boots. Quite the opposite – instead we are calling out the City of Mannheim as they are the ones who initiated this epic FAIL and soon they will experience the true power of social media and teh interweb!
This is not just to save our own skins, because I’m sure that there are many private individuals who have found themselves in a similar situation, but perhaps did not react like we will. So for their sake and ours, this blog post is us making a stand as we feel the City of Mannheim breathing down our necks and into our wallets.
Would you let Mannheim walk all over you?
I can only assume that the good people at the City of Mannheim actually expect us to roll over and die. Well, the reality is not quite that. Instead we are putting it to the people of teh Interweb.
Are they allowed to do this? Are the Goliaths of this world allowed to rule the Internet and social media, or will the Davids out there stand up for themselves?
If you think the City of Mannheim has a point, then where does it end? How far is too far?
Also consider this: the City of Mannheim never contacted Mark directly to enquire about the Twitter account. Instead first contact was this cease and desist order threatening legal action. We are a taxpaying company of Mannheim, yet this is how they treat us. Is this how you expect to be treated as a taxpayer, and hence a city customer?