I am no longer a ‘Shark Diver’   15 comments

Hi everyone, this particular blog post is an industry rant. So, if you don’t like petty politics you’ll probably want to skip it.

You would think that the term ‘shark diver’ refers to all of us. For example, I have been shark diving every chance I get for more than a decade. I have photographed more species of sharks than most people on this planet and therefore I thought (in my naivety) that I might indeed be a ‘shark diver’. Therefore, a few years ago, as an extension of my passion for shark diving, it seemed appropriate to call my WordPress blog ‘Shark Diver’.

I had heard horror stories of an over zealous operator who theatens other operators and magazines with court action if they use the the term ‘shark diver’ but I believed that being a shark photographer and generally a magnanimous guy with a reputation for being neutral, that the operator would be gracious enough to realize that I was indeed a ‘shark diver’ and that my blog was appropriately named.

Considering that my website Elasmodiver.com (BTW, that means SHARKDIVER IN LATIN!!!!!!)  links to ALL shark diving operators (including the one that has registered ‘shark diver’) I thought I would be left in peace to come up with more hair-brained expeditions, take people shark diving (can I even say that now?), showcase endangered shark species on my website and generally have fun with sharks.

Apparently I was mistaken. Yesterday, I was unable to access my WordPress account because it had been suspended. The operator has trademarked the term shark diver. They presented WordPress with enough legalese to scare them into suspending my blog. I don’t blame WordPress at all for agreeing. After all, who wants to fight a court case if you don’t have to? Well, the operator does but he doesn’t really count.

How someone can trademark the generic term shark diver is beyond me but there are some devious people out there that will do whatever they can to get ahead. I’m not saying that the company that trademarked (and is trying to monopolize) the term ‘shark diver’ is devious. Far from it! Its a completely legitimate thing to do, like trademarking the term scuba diver or horse rider or hiker or person. Obviously its very specific to what that company does and we should all respect that. And, even if I secretly thought that it was a low move to stop other companies from using the term ‘shark diver’ I wouldn’t dream of saying it! I might get sued by them! That would be kinda fun especially because I’m Canadian and our court system is a lot different. But, at the end of the day I’d rather be in the water with sharks than in the courtroom with them.

So from now on, I guess that I should be very careful about using the term ‘shark diver’. Perhaps we should all consider a ‘shark diver’ as someone who dives exclusively with the company that has trademarked the term ‘shark diver’. That would make the rest of us ‘cartilaginous fish divers’. Its a bit wordy but I’m sure we’ll all get used to it.

For the cartilaginous fishes,

Andy Murch

Oh, and before I forget, I better take the link to their website off of the Elasmodiver links page. I’ve been displaying it for free for them for many years without their permission and I wouldn’t want them to get even more upset 😉

15 responses to “I am no longer a ‘Shark Diver’

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  1. Andy,
    Sorry to hear that some greedy operator has the determined he has the right to register a name we have all been using for years. Now I am not sure how he has registered the name “shark diver” and how detailed the registration is but I think I may have to register & trademark the verb “shark diver” as they may just have a generic wording named so detailing the registration & trademark “shark diver” as a specific verb and activity would give me the right to use the wording and keep people from using the term “shark diver” in the verb context in any material. I am a ” SHARK DIVER” and have been for many years and no one has the right to tell me otherwise, I am sure myself and others have been using this term long before this operator registered this and have dated documents to prove this fact. Peter Gimble & Stan Waterman used the term shark divers during the filming of Blue Water White Death back in 1971 and let someone say that neither one of these men have the right to use this term!
    Time to get the legal pen writing and my patent lawyer working on this for all of us who have the privileged of diving with these animals that we love and want to protect. Should I be able to get this done and passed through the system I promise that the verb “shark diver” will be available for you to use.

  2. I guess I won’t call myself by such a title as one might use if they dive with sharks anymore, either. Bummer they’ve felt they had to push it to this point (but from what I’ve seen, I believe posturing is what some folks apparently do best, no matter what they call themselves…).
    For me, as much as I love sharks I’m still a “diver” first, so I don’t think I have anything to fear from these folks…. yet……..

  3. Trademarking a name is industry standard. If the company was the URL and has been using it for 10 years or more it is imperative that they trademark to stop others from offering similar services undr that name. I assume you are attempting to slander sharkdiver.com

    All I can suggest is that you might have considered acquiring the name URL and trademark a decade ago prior to them.

    Coming in with a blog that offers your shark trips under the trademarked name sharkdiver is bad form.

    Would you start a blog called Stuart Coves?

    You should read up on trademarks before you do posts like these. Just a fair word of advice from a friendly lawyer who knows;)

    • Now Bill, thats cleverly put so I’m happy to approve your comment and add it to the blog.
      You’re so right, I probably should have acquired that domain a decade ago. If I’d had the budget and foresight I probably should have purchased lots of good combinations that divers use as search terms that might direct them to my expeditions, images, stories and information. What I wouldn’t have done is tried to trademark a generic term that everyone in the industry uses. There have been many elasmo blogs and elasmo websites since mine came into being twelve years ago. Have I tried to shut them all down? Of course not. Why? For one thing, I believe that there is room for all of us. For another, I believe that the shark diving industry itself actually benefits from there being many options for shark divers. And even more importantly, more shark diving websites helps to spread a broader ‘sharks aren’t monsters’ message into mainstream society.
      But I digress, your menacing suggestion that I’m attempting to slander a particular company is comical. I am entitled to have the opinion that stopping people in this industry from using the term ‘shark diver’ is ridiculous. Whether the trademark office agrees or whether a US court agrees, it doesn’t change the fact that ‘shark diver’ is the best and virtually the only term that describes what I am and do. I should be entitled to blog under that generic moniker.
      As for you being a friendly lawyer, that remains to be seen. But I will say that if it comes down to it, I nominate all of my friends as my council. Every threat of legal action, every email and every transcript will make its way onto my websites, blogs and Facebook. So, regardless of what the courts decide, my peers will be the real judges.
      For the cartilaginous fishes,
      Andy Murch

  4. Hi Andy,

    I am glad to see their are other people who are prepared to stand up and voice their honest opinions. Well done.

    Kind Regards,

  5. Andy- if I follow your blog, if I have you among my friends on Facebook, it is because you are….a shark diver!! Most of my friends are!
    It seems ludicrous to me that an activity practised by so many people around the world, has become a ‘trademark.’ Does that mean that the activity of ‘shark diving’ is now obsolete? Or worse, an illegal activity?
    With the numbers of sharks diminishing, conservation measures and awareness is growing- more & more divers want to dive with them while they still can; it’s a growing (and very lucrative) industry, so it’s hardly surprising that some bright spark would want to cash in on it. What surprises me, though, is that through their actions, they’re just ostracising other members of the shark diving community. Shark awareness & protection should bring people together for the good of the greater goal. This guy is more interested in his bank balance than he is for the future of the very animals who are making him rich.
    As far as I’m concerned, Andy, you’ll still be a shark diver- one of the best- and no amount of red tape & petty politics will change that!

  6. According to a search of the US Patent & Trademark Office on 6.3.11 the Word Mark of “Shark Diver” was registered August 9, 2002, to Pioneer & Company, Registration Number 2967600. The only other live registration referring to ‘Shark Diver” belongs to a Patrick Douglas. This registration is for a Mark Drawing Code 3 – which is words plus designs. Looking at the filing & original application what IS covered is “the Mark itself” described as: The mark consists of the words Shark Diver in white, over a shark graphic that is blue, gray and white, over a blue background. So the words Shark Diver, as long as they are not styled as described in the “Mark” above should not be any type of infringement of Mr. Douglas’ Mark.

  7. Great blog entry and perspective, Andy. Of course, there are some business elements that can become involved in shark diving, but I would hope these people eventually realize the sharks should be the focus. Besides, there aren’t that many alternative words to use! So, should we become shark swimmers, shark encounterists, shark whisperers?!? I guess I’m really in trouble since Prilosec named me their “Official Shark Diver” when they gave me a grant to take cancer survivors out on shark encounters! Clearly, there are more important and pressing issues (in the shark world and beyond), and I hope we can all focus more on them instead.

  8. So can I go and get a Trademark for the word ” Footballer ” and then all those over paid and over rated guys that kick a ball around a pitch can just go find themselves another name for their chosen careers. Keep up your hard work Andy

  9. I wonder why he did not name his own blog shark diver way back when? Maybe because Andy had it first? In my humble opinion, anyone who attacks another for using this widely used name in such a way speaks volumes about their true motives and shows they really don’t care about anything but themselves. Glad more people are going to learn about this individual. There is wreckage from the Bahamas to New Zealand from this guy and not many people are surprised by this latest event. Word sure gets around quickly with all the social networks. I know my box is filling up from folks from Central America to South Africa about this. We are all sorry that you had to experience this Andy. But keep up the good work and fight the good fight as you always do. Oh yeah and watch out for those friendly lawyers too! What a joker ;)~

    Lawrence Groth
  10. Andy,
    I am sorry you too have joined the club, What you are doing is great, please keep it up, hold your ground on this and your passion for sharks and I will support you 100% in any way.

  11. I seriously doubt that Patric Douglas has the money to do much more than send threatening letters around to people. A trademark lawsuit costs a fortune and he would likely not win anyway. Having a trademark registered doesn’t restrict others from using it. Besides, if you are not using it in the same type of commerce, his claims are invalid anyway. A blog is totally different than operating tours. He has no case.

    IC 039. US 100 105. G & S: Arranging and conducting sightseeing tours, namely shark diving excursions. FIRST USE: 20011212. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20011212

  12. I propose quite the opposite idea…I think everyone should email them staff@sharkdiver.com and write the following:

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I am a “Shark Diver” as defined by the dictionary:

    shark :noun \ˈshärk\
    : any of numerous mostly marine cartilaginous fishes of medium to large size that have a fusiform body, lateral branchial clefts, and a tough usually dull gray skin roughened by minute tubercles and are typically active predators sometimes dangerous to humans
    div•er :noun \ˈdī-vər\
    1 : one that dives
    2 a : a person who stays underwater for long periods by having air supplied from the surface or by carrying a supply of compressed air b : any of various birds that obtain food by diving in water; especially : loon
    shark div•er :noun \ˈshärkˈdī-vər\
    1 : a person who performs the action of diving and is defined as a diver in the presence of sharks.

    You’re company name is in violation of Trademark rules as:

    “…words in the ‘public domain’, by themselves, cannot be trademarked.”
    1. Use Marks As Adjectives–Not As Nouns.
    Trademarks are adjectives that modify a generic noun. So, a mark needs to be used as an adjective and not as a noun. (In fact, once a trademark is earned, it needs to be carefully used and protected by earned company so that it is not used “in the public domain”–else it can lose the trademark)

    Chris Hartzell
    • Excellent idea, excellent “explanation” 🙂 I will be sending this, hopefully they haven’t changed their e-mail! Thank you for such a thorough post, they can’t question a thing about it!

  13. Just saw this today Andy. Wow, great rant and very well deserved by Mr. “Shark Diver”. You’re absolutely entitled to your opinion, which is absolutely correct in this case, maybe there are more used generic terms than “shark diver” but it is certainly a high-traffic term. I really cannot understand why someone who is a true shark lover would want to mess with the industry in any way, shape, or form. It’s the sharks and family that benefit from the work
    that people like you do by providing critical information to the scientific community, especially in the case of the shark and the great dangers that face them. I thank you for being an awesome dedicated shark diver, and devoting so much time to these beautiful and beloved creatures! You know what? I like “Elasmodiver” better anyway! You are a hero to many of us, don’t let this kind of thing get to you 😉

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