The Internet might appear to be a bottomless well of snark, but much of that snark is trademarked.
That’s creating legal headaches for Charlotte-based Snarkecards.com. The online greeting card company is being sued in federal court by Someecards.com after the latter claimed the Charlotte company copied its sarcasm-laced cards.
Snarkecards was incorporated in September, at an address on Rea Road in south Charlotte. State records show Jennifer Shea and Kevin Holtham created the company.
Reached by phone, Shea declined to comment. She said the company needed to consult with its attorneys before talking about the lawsuit.
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Someecards, known for cards featuring its retro drawings and dry messages (“May your life someday be as awesome as you pretend it is on Facebook”), was founded in 2007. It has become a regular fixture on Facebook news feeds.
In a trademark-infringement lawsuit filed earlier this month in federal court in Charlotte, Someecards said it has had more than 17 million unique visitors to its website. The company said it has an “inherently distinctive trade dress,” made up of a solid, single-colored background, black sans serif text on one side of the picture, “simple figures, typically in line-drawing form,” and its logo in the bottom corner.
The company said that when Snarkecards started, it copied Someecards’ appearance and portions of the software that powers the website. “Snarkecards went so far as to copy several of Someecards electronic greeting cards and placed them on its website, replacing the SOMEECARDS Mark with the Snarkecards mark,” the company alleged in its lawsuit.
Someecards included examples of cards it said were replicas of its work by Snarkecards. In one card by Someecards, a smirking man in a bow tie with a monocle holds a small glass of what appears to be alcohol. “I’d like to offer moral support but I have questionable morals,” reads the message.
In the Snarkecards version, filed as an exhibit in the lawsuit, a smiling woman holds a steaming cup of coffee. “I’d like to offer moral support, but I have questionable morals,” the message reads.
That similarity has led to confusion online, Someecards said in its lawsuit. The company included a tweet from the American Kennel Club, which posted a Snarkecards card: “I’m suspicious of people who don’t like dogs. … But I totally trust a dog when it doesn’t like a person.”
The American Kennel Club tweeted the picture along with the hashtag “#Someecards,” indicating that the group thought Someecards – and not Snarkecards – created the card.
“Snarkecards’ infringing activity has caused actual confusion,” Someecards wrote in its lawsuit.
New York-based Someecards is seeking damages, attorney fees and an injunction from a judge telling Snarkecards to stop using its name or any other names similar to Someecards. The company also wants to take possession of Snarkecards’ website domain name and to destroy all of Snarkecards’ business cards, advertising, packaging or anything else bearing its name. Researcher Maria David contributed.