Thursday, June 19, 2008

Generations Network files suit against Millenia

A search of Federal District Court filings and dockets reveals that The Generations Network (TGN) filed a complaint Monday against Millennia and BTH2 alleging trademark infringement.

Millennia is the maker of Legacy Family Tree, a desktop genealogy program that competes against TGN's Family Tree Maker (FTM). Millennia recently released Legacy 7.0. Co-defendant, BTH2 (or BTHtwo), is a branding and creative design agency located in Orem, Utah. According to their website, BTH2 did the Family Tree Maker (FTM) 2008 brand design for TGN.

Family Tree Maker 2008 brand design 

The Ancestry Insider obtained a copy of the complaint from the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. TGN alleges that BTH2 became a manufacturer, publisher and distributor for Legacy 7.0, redesigning the Legacy box to look remarkably similar to the design BTH2 did for TGN. TGN alleges the similarities are intentional and deceptive. BTH2 provided these services to Millenia in violation of its contract with TGN not to provide similar services to competitors for a year, according to the TGN complaint.

legacy7 The Legacy 7.0 box design shown on Amazon.com illustrates the common properties of the new design with the Family Tree Maker 2008 Essentials Package:

  • A white and orange color scheme with dark text and similarly colored text.
  • Italicized black text across the top.
  • Use of the orange leaf as the dominant graphical element.
  • The words FAMILY TREE in large, dark sans-serif text as the dominant text element on the front and sides of the box.
  • An orange colored, script text element immediately above FAMILY TREE.
  • Three photographs on top of the leaf/leaves, the top one in color and the other two in sepia tone.
  • Bulleted lines of italic text underneath the word FAMILY containing the words "easily", "create" and "charts" in that order.
  • The phrase "build your family tree."
  • Orange graphic elements anchoring the designs on the sides of the box.
  • A three-pronged leaf motif on both sides of the box. (The three-pronged Ancestry "leaf" logo vs. the three-segmented maple leaf.)
LegacyHdr

LegacyDVD

The complaint also points out similarities between the Legacy website header and artwork from the movie Legacy: A Mormon Journey. The movie debuted in 1990 in the newly-opened 500-seat Legacy Theater in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City. In the same building and near the entrance to the theater is a FamilySearch Family History Center. Patrons to the center are in the target market for Millennia's Legacy program.

The complaint shows Legacy media labels were not using the script logo prior to 1997. The Internet Archive for www.legacyfamilytree.com shows the sunset graphic didn't come into use by Millennia until after 1998.

When contacted for comment, TGN made this statement:

The Generations Network (TGN) confirms it has begun legal proceedings against Millennia Corporation, publisher of Legacy family history software, and BTH2 Inc., the apparent designer of Legacy’s family history software packaging and a re-publisher/distributor of that software. TGN has concluded that Legacy’s software packaging, currently available at retail, clearly violates TGN’s trademark of its Family Tree Maker product and is designed to resemble our trade dress (the look and feel of our branding), in a way that has and will continue to confuse consumers. Since this is an ongoing legal issue, TGN has no further statement at this time.

36 comments:

  1. Insider,

    Given all the complaints about the latest version of FTM, TGN might be the beneficiary of any confusion :).

    Mike

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  2. Having chosen Legacy over the "competition" years ago, I hope for Millenia's sake people are intelligent enough to recognize the differences in the branding graphics.

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  3. Knowing Ancestry, the next thing they'll sue about is that Legacy Family Tree uses the word Family Tree in their name.

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  4. They are already doing! Read again.

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  5. Millenia copying another's design isn't new. Compare the similarities between www.legacycharting.com and www.personalhistorian.com.

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  6. looks like it more of a problem with the BTH2 agency... they violate their contract and copy design elements from one client to another. Even the Family Tree Maker packaging looks like it borrowed some styling from FileMaker Pro products. Perhaps TGN should do a little "research" and find a new agency.

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  7. There are only so many way you can graphically depict a tree theme. Give me a break, TGN!

    Personally, I thought the previous Legacy design was much more impressive.

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  8. Looks like to me that TGN is trying to confuse the consumer into thinking they are buying "Family Tree" not "Family Tree Maker". TGN - Why didn't you have the same size font for the entire name of "Family Tree Maker"? I think Millenia should be suing TGN!

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  9. You have got to be kidding. I thought this was a joke at first.
    It's just no longer funny.

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  10. So...Ancestry can literally steal genealogists' work (ie. the Internet Biography Index published this past year), and yet when someone decides to use the same leaf, well, a different leaf, and well, a different color of a different leaf, Ancestry thinks they should sue...for 1 million dollars! Yet another PR blunder for Ancestry. Subscription cancelled today. I'd run away Ancestry Insider.

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  11. I guess if I had a kludgy program that couldn't stand on its own merits I'd sue too.

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  12. After using FTM for over 4 years, I switched to Legacy about 2 years ago. FTM has taken all the "genealogy" out of it's program and instead uses it to grab data from its purchasers! They should worry more about customer satisfaction and less about asthetics!

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  13. This is the most ludicrous stupidity I have ever seen. I am not ignorant enough not to differentiate between the two different software packages and anyone in family history is detailed enough to do so also. Evidently, the Family Tree Maker people are jealous about Legacy being successful with a superior product. I've tried for years to use Family Tree Maker and it never worked right. I've switched and I'll never go back.
    Ellen

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  14. What's funny is seeing this is making me want to go out and buy legacy.

    Ancestry.com I think needs some new management, people skills is not their strong suit if they're suing over a leaf and the name family tree (I think both those symbols were common for genealogy long before ancestry). I think this is just going to create ill will towards them... I've tried to give them the benefit of the doubt with FTM2008 and several other gaffes they've made but this is getting ridiculous. They're going to build up so much ill will footnote and family search are going to put them under.

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  15. All Legacy has to do is add a sticker to their box that says "No Patches Needed" and that would end all the confusion.

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  16. Actually, a sticker on their box saying "We're being sued by Ancestry" might boost sales even further.

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  17. In society today why is everyone so sue happy? What happened to good old competitiveness in business without the Lawsuits. This is not how to bring buyers to your product. In fact after reading some of these comments I think you just might lose more than you gain from the action!
    Granny

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  18. I always thought familysearch and ancestry were run by the same people. Is this wrong???

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  19. A court will decide whether Ancestry is the wronged party here. So why is everyone jumping to Legacy's defense? Ancestry is not suing about the actual software, so discusions about whose software is better is neither here nor there. The only relevent issue here is the boxes. It seems obvious to me that the box designs are very similar, and thus I think Ancestry has a good chance of sucessfully arguing that Legacy copied its trade dress too closely.

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  20. Ancestry.com is owned by The Generations Network, which is owned by Spectrum Equity Investors. FamilySearch.org is owned by the Genealogical Society of Utah, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The two entities thus ARE NOT related in any way, and never were.

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  21. If you do genealogy you would know that the program is the guts of any software. Legacy's is much superior. Any one who reads can see that Legacy has their name right at the top of the box. Of course if a person can not read lettering on the boxes there might be something to complain about.
    One picture is a tree with small leaves. The other is one huge leaf!
    Is one co. allowed to use a color and others not?

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  22. Why would a company that should be branding its product name (Legacy) play that name down so much (light orange script text) in favor of the words "Family Tree" in dark bold letters? You would think they would want the "Legacy" to be prominent unless they had some other motive.

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  23. I'm sure you think you know. So it isn't any sense in replying to you. So I will stop with a word to you. Be careful, as the united states is one super country for lawsuits. Pray you never have to face one.

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  24. Just cancelled my Ancestry.com subscription too. Thanks TGN. Can't wait to purchase Legacy now.

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  25. Yes, this isn't the first time that I've seen the Legacy folks ripping off a design or marketing campaign. Hopefully this will encourage them to be more original in the future.

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  26. Give us a break!! Legacy is better and THAT is why they are being sued. I can read well enough to pick out a product in a box. Their competition are worried! Maybe you should check to see if other law suits have been filed by Ancestry. Why if they are doing well are they trying to destroy all competition? I am aware that in this country law suits are what are used to get ahead. Why??

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  27. Both boxes are eye catching. one chooses to show the name and the other graphics. I think most people looking to purchase software ask other people what they are using and why. Sometimes brand loyalty isn't always the best road, then again what about the customer service after the purchase.
    Are we buying the box or the product inside?

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  28. The truth is that the new FTM 2008 sucks. Since FTM can't out perform Legacy, they might as sue, right?
    They are backed by the huge Generations Network, so if you can't make a better product, by the competition out. If they won't sell, tie them up in frivolous law suits. That's how BIG corporate America works!

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  29. Out of frustration with Family Tree Maker 2008, I switched to Legacy's program. I am very glad I did. When I made the switch I almost didn't buy Legacy becaus it looked like TGN's box -- maybe Legacy should counter sue for lost customers.

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  30. One salient fact everyone is leaving out is this; you DON"T have to BUY Legacy Family Tree unless you opt for the deluxe version, you can download the Standard version and use it in perpetuity.

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  31. It ain't so much what on the wrapper... as it is what's in the box. RootsMagic 4.0 is gonna rock both their socks! ;)

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  32. Be careful or you may face a lawsuit. They do that to any business who is really a threat to them.

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  33. Check out the Genlighten Blog...seems Ancestry's Chinese site has a logo awfully similar to theirs.

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  34. A tree is a tree is a tree. How in this world can someone be sued for using a tree picture and leaves ? I find Ancestry's suit against Legacy such a CROCK!! It defies all reason to have a genealogy program and not be able to use a tree and leaves as pictures on a box. Who created a tree anyway. Not man! Who created leaves, not man!
    Why shouldn't any human company have the right to use the leaf, tree, and other pictures that depict our lineage of genealogy, our Roots if you will.
    Ancestry is foolish and a bully.
    Someone needs to let them in on the secret that a tree and leaves are not their creations. They are God's

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