Letter To Entrepreneur Editor Re Gethuman.com vs. Angel.com

In which Erik discusses the definition of entrepreneur.

I was catching up on my reading over the weekend when I noticed a troubling article in Entrepreneur magazine. I like Entrepreneur magazine in general, but I would like it better if it (1) eliminated all franchise-related content from the magazine and (2) had higher standards for what gets printed.

My letter should speak for itself. Suffice it to say that this is not the first time Angel.com has been suspected of questionable business practices.

Here’s my letter to the editor (Rieva Lesonsky):

“Shame on you for portraying Angel.com CEO Michael Zirngibl in the March 2007 issue of Entrepreneur magazine as an entrepreneur (p. 83, ‘Voice of Reason‘). The true entrepreneurs in this story are Paul English and his volunteer community (of which I am one – my law firm, Clock Tower Law Group, provides legal counsel pro bono to gethuman) behind the gethuman movement, who are working hard to fix what is clearly broken with telephone customer service by (1) telling how to bypass onerous IVR systems and (2) defining the ‘gethuman standard‘ for how IVR systems should work in the first place.

Angel.com knowingly purchased Google AdWords keywords ‘gethuman.com’ and ‘Paul English’ even though it has no legal association with either. In my service as an Air Force officer, I was taught to avoid not only impropriety but also the appearance thereof. True entrepreneurs should hold themselves to the same standard. Even though Google allows competitors to bid on each other’s trademarks (as long as they don’t include the terms in their ads), that doesn’t make the practice right. Yahoo has thankfully stopped the practice, hopefully Google will be next, and eventually the courts will catch up to prohibit this unfair practice.

Until then, your publication should focus on entrepreneurs, not opportunists.”

In the spirit of full disclosure, gethuman is/was a client of Clock Tower Law Group and is mentioned in this article.

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