Biker Changes Domain Name Fearing Trademark Dispute with Harley-Davidson

By Joseph Mandour on April 19, 2012

motorcycle-harley-body-thumb-200x132-39954 Orange County – A thirty-six-year-old Delaware man has agreed to change the name of his social networking site for motorcycle enthusiasts after the world-renowned Harley-Davidson accused him of trademark infringement earlier this year.

According to Jimmy Coulbourne, the owner of the biker website HarleySpace.com, will now become IronRides.com to avoid any further conflict with Harley-Davidson. The famous Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer argued that Coulbourne’s use of the world “Harley” in his domain name, along with orange and black logos, constituted cybersquatting and trademark infringement. Harley insisted that by using the word Harley in the domain, Coulbourne was attempting to profit from its trademark.

Coulbourne, a one-time owner of a Harley-Davidson SuperGlide, acquired the HarleySpace.com domain two years ago, with the goal of uniting fellow bikers for rides and other social meet-ups.

“They said I was trying to profit off their name,” stated Coulbourne. “HarleySpace isn’t their name. It’s Harley-Davidson. If they think they own HarleySpace, why didn’t they own HarleySpace?” Coulbourne went on to say, “Harley is one of my favorite motorcycle brands. The passion that follows that brand is one that I embrace. I just wanted to target that lifestyle.”

However, as one of the world’s most identifiable brands, among motorcycle riders and non-riders alike, Harley-Davidson isn’t taking any chances with its name, which has been around for more than one hundred years. The iconic company has been serious about protecting its intellectual property, especially after taking the brand overseas. The company has numerous registered trademarks associated with the brand, including the word “Harley.”

Coulbourne’s similar domain name came onto Harley-Davidson’s “global brand protection” unit’s radar earlier this year after seeing that in just two months, HarleySpace.com had registered over eight hundred user accounts. The site included user forums and a members’ map for riders to plot their locations. Despite including a disclaimer that the site was operated independently from the iconic brand, Harley-Davidson was quick to send a cease and desist letter to Coulbourne.

After realizing he didn’t have the money to fight a large motorcycle company, Coulbourne gave in and changed the website name.

“I just felt like Harley was shoving their nose up at me,” he said. “They wouldn’t even talk to me,” he added. “I’m a human being, and they wouldn’t even pick up the phone to discuss my ideas, my thoughts. Anything.”

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