A couple of weeks ago while at the NCSG national convention I stumbled upon
the Facebook page for the local chimney sweep company on the right, which –as you’ll surely notice– happened to be utilizing our CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep logo as its cover image and our CSIA Master Sweep logo as its profile image.
Knowing that the only CSIA Master Chimney Sweep in all of Indiana is CSIA’s education director, Ashley Eldridge, two possibilities immediately came to mind:
- Ashley must be exhausted from working full-time for CSIA & NCSG AND running his own start-up sweeping business… or..
- Someone, in our own backyard of all places, decided to use our logos without our consent to attract potential clients.
Fast forward to last week…
After two full weeks of work-related travel, the incident above wasn’t the first thing on my mind when I returned to the office. That is, until I saw the tweet below from Tom Spalding, who had found a flyer for the same local chimney company at an Indianapolis gas station (complete with CSIA & NFI logos).
At this point, I made it my new life mission to track down the person responsible for this egregious trademark violation (utilizing my professional investigation skills from a previous job) and either make them feel extremely sorry for their actions and/or have our staff start the ball rolling on our official trademark violation process (which is a little slower in initiating contact, but still absolutely necessary in most cases).
Luckily, the owner of the company made it pretty easy for me. Here’s how I was able to track him down in just a few minutes:
- Performed a google search on the email address listed on the flyer.
- Used Facebook to search the name I found associated with the email address in my previous search.
- Searched our internal database of certified professionals and found no such person.
The result of my second search provided me with a profile of someone who listed themselves as “Owner” of the company in question and I could confirm with 100% certainty he was not currently CSIA Certified. Boom. Gotcha.
Hoping I could convince this person to remove our trademarks from his property without the use of lawyers, I decided to go ahead and reach out to him via Facebook Messenger as well as via email, in which I informed him we noticed he was using our logos and informed him they were only for use by CSIA Certified professionals, and asked him to please remove them as CSIA Certified professionals “work incredibly hard” to earn the right to those logos.
Instead of threatening him with future action if he were to again be found in violation, I encouraged him to pursue earning his certification that way he could not only use our logos in the future, but he could also get some real marketing power from being listed on our website.
And you know what, he was incredibly quick to apologize and remove the logos from his Facebook page. He also promised to “redo” his flyers — though, unless Tom happens to find more flyers around town, we’ll just have to take him at his word.
* If you’re wondering why I went to the trouble of protecting this guy’s identity and business name, it’s because he’s now a part of our industry and our local community, so we’d much rather see him succeed (the right way) than be publicly shamed. One of these days he may be ready to pursue certification, so burning that bridge now, wouldn’t do either of us any good.
**Also… if you ever consider using our trademarked logos fraudulently, you may want to reconsider. A simple google image search just netted us more than a dozen companies currently in violation…. We are watching. 🙂
About the author: Jordan Whitt is the Director of Communications and Marketing for the Chimney Safety Institute of America and holds the CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep credential. Outside of the CSIA, you’ll occasionally find him doing some public affairs work for the American Red Cross or the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, or taking lots of photographs. You can email him directly at email@example.com.