Ethics In Tech & Lack Thereof

Sleeping Under The Cell Tower

By Vahid Razavi

Taking On Titans

I wasn’t going to let the torture enablers at CSC steal my company’s name and trademark (as well as its good reputation) without one hell of a fight. I knew a lawsuit was our best chance at justice, but there was a huge problem. I was unable to secure outside capital to fund our legal defense and this battle was going to be a monumental expense that none but those with the deepest pockets could afford to fight and win. Nevertheless, we felt we stood on solid legal ground. Our suit, filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of California, targeted not only CSC but also AT&T, Cisco Systems, VMWare, and EMC — all of which partnered with CSC’s BizCloud knockoff—alleging trademark infringement plus unfair competition and business practices under the Lanham Act and California Business and Professions Code. We showed how CSC failed to cease and desist using BizCloud’s name and trademark, how its infringement confused and deceived the public, andhow this corporate malfeasance caused us irreparable harm. We proved that by using BizCloud’s name and mark without our approval, or without properly paying for any license, the defendants infringement was intentional. We knew it was a real-life David versus Goliath scenario we were getting into, but we felt sure that the facts of the case at hand would weigh heavily in our favor.

One reason why trademark law enforcement is so expensive is the need for expert testimony. Even Though we owned the trademark and domain and could show examples of confusion in the marketplace caused by CSC’s theft, we still needed experts to testify to this in court. Who are experts? They’re usually university professors in trademark law or industry analysts who charge$500-$1,000 an hour or more, usually with a 50-hour minimum retention. They are very expensive for anyone, let alone an organization of our size. Whoever has the most money gets the most and best experts. Considering the size of CSC and its deep pockets we decided to at least put up a good fight for as long as we could. During the subsequent six months from December 2013 to June of 2014 we expanded our legal representation with two freshly-minted attorneys who agreed to represent us on a contingency fee structure. At our initial and only court-assigned mediation I made it very clear that we would only settle the BizCloud matter via mediation. At no time was I willing to sacrifice my First Amendment rights and delete the CSCFraud or CSCSucks websites or content.In addition to suing CSC, we filed suit against a number of CSC Partners that were now resellingand infringing upon our trademark by marketing the CSC BizCloud product. These partners included VMWare, Cisco, AT&T, and EMC. Through it all, we continued to make headlines of our own by leveraging paid PR Wire distribution services to announce our lawsuits against CSC and its partners.

As part of the legal back-and-forth of our lawsuits we had already provided plenty of examples of confusion of our company and trademark within the tech sector caused by CSC’s trademark theft.We had been marketing a public cloud offering under BizCloud, and CSC was selling a “glorified server” private cloud with the same name as our business.

On mediation day we came prepared with records of our revenues from cloud brokerage via our content marketing efforts. My own attorney showed up late on mediation day. We were then placed in a small room while CSC occupied the courtroom in show of strength, as they were confident they owned the court system. Before mediation both parties had agreed to disclose revenue numbers associated with BizCloud. I can assure you that the revenue numbers that CSC BizCloud had produced belied a dismal and pathetic cloud computing business offering. Clearly, CSC is much better at getting awarded military industrial complex contracts for rendition flights than it is at selling cloud computing products. For a small company of our size we had done much better than CSC on revenue per employee in regard to the BizCloud trademark. During the session the mediator asked us to disclose our revenue numbers; the mediator repeatedly tried to pressure us to include other topics besides BizCloud. I made it very clear that I would not sacrifice my constitutional rights unless CSC acknowledged its crimes against humanity. CSCFraud was not up for mediation during the BizCloud trademark dispute.

For a brand that took six years of my life and family fortune to build, CSC offered less than what I Could buy a used recreational vehicle after Burning Man for. I had no intention of sharing my bandwidth CSC, and I refused to take the offer. We walked out of the San Francisco courtroom without reaching a settlement.That evening one of my attorneys did not join us for dinner, and then suddenly quit without recommending any replacement representation. We were left defenseless. My out-of-state attorneys needed a local lawyer as they were not licensed to practice law in California.

Within two days of the failed mediation my attorneys contacted me to change our fee agreement from contingency to pay-up-front. With an expected legal budget of $700,000, we couldn’t imagine how we would be able to continue to pursue justice. Like many startup and small business owners in America who have been harassed by larger corporations, we faced the prospect of watching everything we’d built die simply because we could not afford access to a fair legal process. With no legal representation to help us enforce our US-registered intellectual property rights, I had no choice but to take the offer and share our brand with CSC. According to my own lawyer, we’d gotten a“rotten deal.”