Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cialis Blog Shut Down

Not exactly shut down, but close enough!

A few days ago I reported that cialisblog.com was apparently using the Cialis brand logo without the consent of Lilly ICOS -- although I questioned how this could have been going on for over a year after the blog was mentioned in Pharmaceutical Executive (PE) Magazine.


I contacted Google and Blogger.com, which hosts cialisblog.com, to complain that the site was in violation of Blogger.com's terms of use (namely, using a trademark without the owner's permission). No response.


I then sent the following e-mail not to ICOS's general counsel:

From: JOHN MACK [mailto:johnjmack@verizon.net]
Sent: Friday, February 03, 2006 11:26 AM
To: generalcounsel
Subject: Cialis Brand Logo infringement
Importance: High

Dear sir or madam:

It has come to my attention that a rogue web site (www.cialisblog.com) is using the Cialis logo and thus misrepresenting the brand. I just thought you would want to protect your brand's integrity and have this unauthorized use of the Cialis logo stopped.

It would be a simple matter to contact Google or Blogger.com and have them take down the site, which violates their terms of use.

Please advise me on your action, as I will be reporting further on this issue in my newsletter, web site and blog (see http://pharmamkting.blogspot.com/2006/02/cialis-blog-shame-on-lilly-icos.html) which reaches over 40,000 readers per month.
And wouldn't you know, I got a reply!
Dear Mr. Mack:

Thank you for your note regarding the site at www.cialisblog.com . We monitor the Internet on a regular basis and take action as appropriate to prevent the unauthorized use of our trademarks by third parties. We are aware of this site and will follow up according to our standard processes.

John Kliewer, Vice President and General Counsel
Now when you visit cialisblog.com, this is what you find:
CialisBlog is not affiliated with Lilly ICOS

Rercent (sic) articles in various newspapers mentioned CialisBlog.com as belonging to Lilly Icos. CialisBlog is no way affiliated, endorsed, or sponsored Lilly Icos.

CialisBlog is not an attempt to hijack the Cialis brand. The site contains only news and information about Cialis and makes no claims whatsoever as being affiliated with Lilly Icos.
You know what people from New York would say to that? "Yeah, if you believe that, then I have a bridge to sell you!" Anyway, the logo has been removed. Success!

Why did it take so long after cialisblog was mentioned in PE Magazine in October, 2004, for someone to notify Icos? You would think that ONE of the thousands of readers of that prestigious trade publication would have said something! Maybe someone did, but unfortunately it took a more public outing to get action.


Thanks to Fard Johnmar for bringing this to my attention in the first place.

NOTE ADDED: A commenter suggested it was impossible to monitor all the sites -- like cialis-blog.com -- that use the name Cialis.

That is true, but these sites do not use the Cialis graphical logo. Anyone can use the name of a product. That's protected by free speech in many cases and may not be purposely deceptive. But using a graphical logo takes it to level another level, into the realm of purposeful deception and misrepresentation. That's why I do not believe that cialisblog.com when it says it did not intend to hijack the logo to misrepresent itself as being an "official" Cialis site. Obviously, the ruse worked and several of us savvy editor-types believed it was an official Cialis site. Also, the signature was "Cialis" as the creator ("Who am I"), whereas I am sure is not the case in other sites using the Cialis name.

It is also suspicious that the identity of the site's creator was hidden and difficult to pin down. I actually believe the site was sanctioned by Icos and/or Lilly who were put up to it by an overzealous ad agency or PR firm who hid their tracks. Maybe a zealous sales rep is responsoble. Who knows?

It might be instructive to ask the editor of PE mag how the site got mentioned in their magazine (although I am sure they will claim not to remember). Very few references to these things are made in the press without the editor first being informed of the existence of the site by a PR person and doing some fact checking. But that's a whole 'nuther matter!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:48 PM

    Ummmm ... what about http://cialis-blog.com?

    And a thousand (million?) other webscam sites using branded names and images to attract traffic and sell crap?

    Global whack-a-mole game that no general counsel @ Lilly can win. Google et al must step up ... but they won't do so without pressure.

    ReplyDelete