Rhea Drysdale - SEO Industry Hero

Anywhere there is controversy you will find many marketers who will opine and try to shine the lights on themselves about how wonderful they are and how much they help everyone else and how everyone should link to them in the controversy. But when the attention dies down it turns out few marketers hold true to their promises and stick with their principals.

It is usually the unsung heroes that make a difference, not as a cheesy marketing strategy, but because they believe in doing the right thing, even if it is at great personal cost.

Not sure if you remember the hoopla about Jason Gambert (professional douchebag) trying to trademark the word SEO, but many industry professionals were up in arms about it. In spite of some of the larger companies having big-jaws-a-flapping and in house legal teams, and the industry having perhaps some of the MOST USELESS AND SELF PROMOTIONAL cash flush "non-profit" trade organizations in the entire world (cough...SEMPO...cough), Rhea Drysdale was left to spend a couple years and $17,004.33 fighting the bogus trademark.

A few years back I spent about $35,000 to $40,000 fighting Traffic Power, and while it was painful back then, to this day I am glad I did it. But one of the things that surprised me back then was that for all the noise, few people cared enough to offer a $1 to help fight the good fight. Some friends helped in a big way...but I was still like $30,000+ in the hole and stuck dealing with a lot of stress.

Lets not leave Rhea with that feeling. ;)

Her Paypal email address is rhea_drysdale@yahoo.com. I just donated $566.81, and if about 29 more of us do the same, then we will help cover her legal expenses. Even if you can't donate that much, every $ helps...given the size of the industry (and the alleged concern certain individuals showed) we should easily be able to cover 100% of her legal fees. Even at the $50 or $100 level, it will still add up quickly with your help. Please shower Rhea with links too...she earned them :D

Update: Its worth adding that Jonathan Hochman collaborated early in this case with Rhea and choose a different legal strategy. He also spent about $10k fighting this battle but the court threw out his challenge on a technicality, so while many of the other industry supporters were nothing more than self promoters, Jonathan is also a good guy here.

Published: March 15, 2010 by Aaron Wall in business


March 15, 2010 - 10:01pm

Your a hero to all of us in the industry!

Rob Woods
March 15, 2010 - 10:17pm

Agreed on all of the above. I'm going to make a donation but I didn't think about the link (I'm so ashamed)...going to add a post and a link tonight. Every SEO should do the same!

March 15, 2010 - 10:49pm

Very noble of you Aaron. Seems only fair that those who make their coin from SEO might consider your suggestion. (Sorry, Rhea, I'm no SEO so I'm only in for a donating beer and a sandwich to your cause at this stage . . but do demand it from me whence we meet.)

Oh, frack the sandwich and beer. I just sent $25.00 in lieu of the same.

There is no end to attempts to claim the generic descriptive words and phrases of various Web activities.

A trademark application was just filed on January 8, 2010 for "Internet Reputation Management".

Internet? Online? Web? + Reputation Management? A claim of right to exclusive use?

If you are in the "internet reputation management" business (Who isn't?) and don't want to get sued for using that phrase or all the other similar common descriptors you might want to write to the USTPO.

Who will pick up where Rhea left off?


March 15, 2010 - 11:02pm

that link was broken for me. :(

Arnie Link Builder
March 15, 2010 - 10:43pm

Hey Aaron,
I too think what Rhea (and Jonathan) did was a great thing. In fact, I donated to the cause first thing this morning. But I have to ask... $566.81? How did you arrive at such a nice round number?

Wesley LeFebvre
March 15, 2010 - 10:47pm

@Arnie - 17,004.33 / 30 = 566.81.

I also just sent Rhae what I could a few minutes ago.

Thanks again, Rhae!

March 16, 2010 - 12:06am

The trademark site has session based searching which requires you start from the beginning... obviously well thought out! :P

That did catch my attention though, so I had to look it up... turns out Obtainium, LLC DBA Internet Reputation Management LLC from California applied for it.

If you want to search yourself, visit http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/index.jsp and choose "Search marks" -> "New User Form Search (Basic)" -> and submit query

March 16, 2010 - 12:27am

Donated, thanks for the post Aaron and thanks again for watching our back Rhea. Will send her a link too. xd

March 16, 2010 - 12:40am

Aaron, thank you for the post and the hefty donation! I'm still getting to everyone with personal emails, but when I saw the strange number, I had to find out why. I do appreciate it. Not sure if this compares to the foot long hot dog, but it was two years in the making. Given your nightmare with Traffic Power, I know you understand the frustrations that come with not knowing when it will end or whether you should pursue it in the first place. I'm ecstatic that enough was raised to help with both Jonathan and my legal fees. It's encouraging after so much self-doubt and frustration with the community from both of us.

March 16, 2010 - 2:46am

Donation sent. Wasn't very much, but I hope it helps a little. Thanks for showing us this hero Aaron! And thank you Rhea!

March 16, 2010 - 8:49am

You are truly a role model to the industry. Off to donate now.

March 16, 2010 - 3:02pm

Following your example Aaron I have also donated 50 bucks to her account. :D

Sorry to hear about Traffic Power costs, I hope next time I could at least do the same for you.

Best Regards,

Fred Munoa

March 17, 2010 - 3:04am

Thanks for the work, Rhea--

March 17, 2010 - 4:17am

Given the impracticality of all the measures that would have to take place to enforce such a trademark anyway, wouldn't it have been the case that we'd all just laugh at the "trademark" and not take it seriously? How would it have been enforced?

March 17, 2010 - 8:12am

The problem with such trademarks is how they work is they get a couple people to sign on via free license, then a couple pay the discount early adopter rate, and then all those illegitimate transactions are used to add perceived legitimacy to further extortion efforts.

March 17, 2010 - 2:38pm

Added some coin to the pile.

Thanks to Rhea for sticking up for our industry.

Props to Aaron for blowing this up on his blog.

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