An Open Letter to Albert Martino of Hot Igloo Internet Marketing and Web Design

Dear Albert,

Hi, I’m Amber. I’m one of the directors of Hot Igloo Productions Ltd: we’re an internet marketing and web design business, which was incorporated in 2004 and has been trading ever since. I’m basically a silent parter (or I have been until now) so you probably won’t recognise my name, but my husband/business partner, Terry Miaoulis, has been in touch with you via email and on Facebook, so you may well know his.

Even if you don’t recognise our names, though, I’m sure you’ll recognise the name of our business: Hot Igloo. Sound familiar at all? It should do, because you launched your own rival business two months ago, using exactly the same name. You’re called Hot Igloo? So are we! You offer web design and SEO services? So do we!  Here’s our logo:

And here’s yours:

Do you see the problem here? You’ve essentially duplicated our brand. Two businesses, both using exactly the same name, both using igloos as their logo, both trading in exactly the same industry, and targeting exactly the same customers? That’s going to get confusing for people, don’t you think? You may well argue that you’re based in America, while we’re in the UK, but let’s get real: we’re both running Internet-based businesses and trading online. And now we’re doing it using the same brand.

Albert, you claim to be an Internet marketing and Search Engine Optimization specialist. I assume that means you’re familiar with Google? The search engine? You can type a business name into it, and it will magically provide you with a list of any other businesses using that name? You know it? Good. As a SEO expert who is familiar with the workings of the Internet, then, I’m sure you ran a quick Google search when you were choosing your business name this June. (Did I mention we registered ours in 2004, a full seven years before you?) And when you did, I’m sure you noticed that the very first result for “Hot Igloo” was our company. Our website design and SEO company.

What did you think when you saw that, Albert? Did you think, “Oh, drat! There already IS a web design company called Hot Igloo! What a coincidence! I better come up with another name, instead, one that is truly my own!” Or did you just think, “Whatever, I’m just going to use the name anyway, who cares if there’s another company which has been using that name in the same sector as me, for the past seven years?” Because, from where I’m standing, the latter option seems to be the one you went with.

Albert, this message is currently displayed in giant letters on your homepage:

 “We take great pride in delivering fresh and original internet marketing solutions.”

If you GENUINELY take pride in being fresh and original  – in fact, if you have any kind of professional pride AT ALL – please reconsider your choice of business name. Please try to put yourself in our position, and imagine how you would feel if, seven years down the line, another website design firm started up using YOUR name. Please, do the right thing. And if you’re not prepared to do the right thing, please at least have the decency to speak to us about this: we are not unreasonable people, but your actions are threatening our business and livelihood, and we have to take that seriously.

Albert, you have completely ignored all of the messages we’ve sent you, including the one Terry left on your Facebook page,  so you don’t seem to want to talk to us.

 

Our message on Albert Martino’s Facebook page: ignored

 

You also deleted the follow-up message Terry posted on Saturday:

 

Finally, you blocked our Hot Igloo ID from commenting on your page.

Albert, up until yesterday, we were trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume that you perhaps hadn’t received any of our messages. But your recent actions tells us that you HAVE received our messages, and are wilfully ignoring/deleting them. This is very disappointing, because we would have much preferred to have tried to resolve this amicably, than to call you out in public.  Your refusal to talk to us, however, leaves us with little option but to make this issue public, as we need to make sure that our own clients, and prospective clients, are aware of the fact that there are now two “Hot Igloo web design” companies out there, so they’re not confused. We’re particularly concerned that people might think that any statements YOU make online using our business name have come from US. Our business is seven years old, after all: there are a lot of people out there who will see the name “Hot Igloo” and assume that it is us. This works the other way too, of course: if you really are a professional businessman, I’m sure you will not want your clients being confused in this way either.

In closing, I’d just like to say that you are not the first person to try to copy us, and I don’t expect you’ll be the last.  Back in May, in fact,  someone copied our shoe blog, Shoeperwoman, in much the same way that you have copied the Hot Igloo brand. We took legal action which resulted in the domain being transferred to us and the site shut down: prior to this, the copycat site was deleted by three separate web hosts (all of whom agreed that it was engaged in something lawyers call “passing off”), and its Twitter and Facebook accounts were closed down by the respective social networks. There is absolutely no difference between what you are doing to us, and what that other “Shoeper-Woman” site tried to do, and we would ask you to please consider what you will do to your reputation by continuing to use someone else’s brand in this way.

Please get in touch to discuss this: you have our details. (If you don’t, feel free to Google “Hot Igloo”. It’s the first result.)

Amber & Terry
Hot Igloo Productions Ltd.
P.S. You’ve been Caughty Doing a McNaughty: welcome to the club!

 

UPDATE: Monday, August 22nd:
Albert Martino has now deleted all of the comments from his Facebook wall and blocked us from commenting, before changing his page settings to block the entire UK.  world except America. He is obviously prepared to go to great lengths to avoid having to speak to us, which is a shame, because if Albert genuinely believes that he hasn’t done anything wrong, then he should have no reason to fear speaking to us. And if he has nothing to hide, then there should be no reason to block most of the world from his page.

 

Note to Forever Amber readers: I’m really sorry to once again be publishing something like this here, and I had really hoped I would’t have to write this. Obviously we would have preferred to have been able to resolve this issue privately and amicably but Albert Martino has ignored our emails, deleted our messages from his Facebook page, and blocked us from commenting altogether. I’ve written this post, because although Albert can stop me commenting on his Facebook, he can’t prevent me from talking about this issue elsewhere on the Internet, and he can’t prevent YOU from talking about it either. To be blunt: we will go out of business if people continue to copy us like this – we just cannot hope to continue if all of our time and money is being spent trying to prevent people like Albert Martino from duplicating our brand. As always, we’re grateful for any support our readers can give us.


93 Comments

  • Oh Amber not again!

    Fingers crossed this is resolved quickly!

    • Amber says:

      Thanks, Becky – I’m honestly flabbergasted that it has happened again. To have two brands copied in the space of three months is more than any small business should have to deal with. And I know I joke about being “often imitated”, but I really am starting to think I must be setting some kind of record here!

    • Anonymous! says:

      Just for your information since you don’t really seem to know what you’re talking about with the exception of creating tons of drama over something perfectly legal, since you’re in a different country you really don’t have a leg to stand on. Just thought you should know! :D

  • Kerry says:

    We’re right here with you Amber and Terry. The beauty of the internet is that we CAN call out the McNaughtys and spread the message as far as humanly possible that a business is breaking the law.

    Deleting a few Facebook messages doesn’t change a thing. I mean, all it took was hitting Print Screen!

    Please don’t feel sorry that you have to mention something like this, I am sure all of your readers want to see the business you have built up succeed, and anyone who tries to undermine yours and Terry’s incredibly hard work should not be let off easily.

    • Amber says:

      Thanks, Kerry – I really agonised about posting this because I’m sure my readers will be getting copycat fatigue, it happens so often, but this is so important to us: as I said, we just won’t be able to continue trading if it keeps happening at this rate, it has such a huge impact on our time and finances :( And yes, you’re so right: all Albert has done by ignoring our emails and deleting our wall posts is to force us to escalate this. All of this could have been avoided if he’d just replied to us, and deleting the messages just tells us that he HAS read them, and is deliberately ignoring them. That doesn’t make us go away, it just forces us to try to get his attention some other way! It also shows that, on some level, he must be aware that he is doing something wrong. If he’s not ashamed to have used the name, then why hide the evidence?

      I will be very interested to hear Albert’s excuse for this, assuming he is willing to give one: the fact that he is marketing himself as a “search engine optimzation” expert kind of rules out the “I didn’t know there was already a business using that name!” line!

      • Anonymous! says:

        Also it’s not really proof that he’s done something wrong, it’s proof you’re trying to smear his company on completely unstable ground.

  • jules says:

    How stressful all this must be for you and Terry…

    I can’t even imagine having to go through something like this, but you will always have my support no matter what.

    I’ll be praying that things work out for you.
    xx

  • Stephen says:

    Unbelievable. All this copy-catting is really starting to make my blood boil now (so I can only imagine how you guys feel). Wishing this guy very bad karma….

  • KON says:

    Gosh, I’m surprised, how many attempts you start, to get in contact with somebody, who definitely doesn’t intent to answer or react in any way or the other. If it would be me having to deal with such persons, I would have gone verbally berserk…

    I hope, you can get rid of him without aging für years.

    Best wishes from the continent.

  • Wow. I’m so sorry you are bothered by copycats again! I really wonder why so many people target you. I hope Mr. Martino is re-thinking his business name! Is there any chance he had a design firm come up with this and they were the ones copying? What a mess!

    Relatable Style

    • Amber says:

      Well, he is claiming to be a designer himself, so I don’t think so, although you never know! If there was something like that happening, though, I’d have thought the very least he could’ve done would’ve been to send us a quick email saying, “Look, I’m checking this out, I need more time to respond.” I mean, if someone contacted me and said my website was ripping off their brand, and they needed to speak to me, I wouldn’t just ignore that! All we want is for him to speak to us privately: it’s really a shame that he has so far refused to do that.

  • maz aka MallyMon says:

    Oh, no, I can’t believe it! How absolutely awful. And how awful that this person won’t even communicate with you. But then, that’s what usually happens, I guess. Good luck!! Please don’t worry about blogging again about it, I just wish people would stop doing this kind of thing. The more these copycats are publicised the better! Good luck!! Again. :) x

  • Abby says:

    All the best Amber!!! My wishes are with you!!! Hope everything will be sorted out. It is very distressing to see that you have to face this after Lin Shuideng. Again, all the best. Be strong girl!!

  • Tali says:

    Not again!!! wish you luck, hope this guy gives up before you have to spend your time and money on another copycat.

  • Hi Amber
    You guys obviously do good work – otherwise there would be no point in copying you and stealing your reputation. I hope your message gets out to everyone!
    Cheers
    N

  • Emsk says:

    This is really really bad and I hope you can get it sorted as quickly as possible. For what it’s worth I’ll put a link on my site, though it doesn’t have a great number of readers. It might help you out somehow though.

  • David says:

    No evidence to suggest he deliberately copied you in any way. Besides, the presence of another Hot Igloo, halfway across the world won’t affect your business in any way, particularly given that Google returns local results first anyway.

    Of course you could just go on his facebook page and get all your mates to berate him. Hopefully he’ll not lose so much business that he has to let staff go, directly impacting the lives of people who have nothing to do with the origins of this situation.

    If he was taking business away from you and benefitting from it then I’d understand, however you appear to be just another small, web design “agency” who for some reason seems to think that [Edited to remove personal information.] Honesty eh?

    • Terry says:


      No evidence to suggest he deliberately copied you in any way.

      It’s irrelevant whether it was deliberate or not: he is knowingly using another company’s brand and refusing to enter into a dialogue with them about it, despite repeated requests.

      the presence of another Hot Igloo, halfway across the world won’t affect your business in any way,

      We found out about this because a client typed our name into Facebook, found Albert’s page, and contacted us to ask about it. This suggests that there IS the possibility of two identical brands causing confusion. We’re an internet business, and we don’t only deal with clients in our local area: in fact, we have many clients in the US, so yes, this could affect our business. Also, this person is making comments using our business name: it could be damaging to our reputation if, for instance, he makes comments we don’t agree with.


      Of course you could just go on his facebook page and get all your mates to berate him.

      Or he could just have responded to any one of the various messages we’ve sent him over the course of the past week, requesting a private conversation, and all of this would have been avoided. We haven’t asked anyone to berate him.

      Hopefully he’ll not lose so much business that he has to let staff go, directly impacting the lives of people who have nothing to do with the origins of this situation.

      And hopefully we won’t lose so much business that we’ll lose our home. I doubt he will be losing too much business out of a brand he started a few weeks ago vs a site with the same name we have been running for several years. The very fact that you have chosen to focus on Albert’s potential loss of business rather than ours leads me to believe that, for whatever reason, you have a biased opinion on this matter. Again, if Albert is worried about losing business, then it might have been better for him not to have ignored our repeated requests for a conversation. We’ve made it very clear that we wanted to resolve this privately: Albert refuses to speak to us, deletes our messages and blocks us. In fact, YOU seem much more concerned about the potential damage to his reputation than he is: at the time of writing, Albert doesn’t seem to care about this in the slightest.


      If he was taking business away from you and benefitting from it then I’d understand,

      How do you know he isn’t? You seem to think you know a lot about this issue, including information we haven’t made public. This makes me wonder who you really are, and what your actual agenda is.


      you appear to be just another small, web design “agency” …

      I had to remove a portion of your comment as Amber does not post her exact location on her blog for privacy reasons. This part of your comment doesn’t actually have anything to do with the issue of a rival firm appropriating our brand, it;s just an attempt to be snide and take cheap shots at our business. Totally impartial observer, are you?


      Honesty eh?

      This from someone using a fake email address to support someone who is trading under another company’s name. I’m sure you have your reasons to want to defend this kind of behaviour, “David”, but we use our real identities here so it’s a shame you feel the need to hide behind fake names, and, again, makes it seem like you have some other agenda to pursue.

      • Zoe says:

        Bravo Terry, Bravo

      • Ana says:

        Great response Terry! And “David”, regarding your comment : I can’t imagine hat n a globalized world that we leave nowadays you still think that using somebody else name would be ok because they are not in the same country! That’s the most absurd thing I ever heard!

      • G.G. says:

        SNAP SNAP. Hope you’re good at tennis, David, cos you just got SERVED.

    • Cameron says:

      Hello reality check coming up for David, the evidence is plain for all to see, if Mr Martino is as he purports to be a “Search Engine Optimization specialist” then the first thing he should have done was Google the name because that’s what specialists do. Nobody likes to find themselves in situations like this but Mr Martino should at least speak to the people involved after all he’s not the only person with staff to consider.

  • MsVeve says:

    My God, you must have the worst copy-cat luck ever?!? I hope this gets resolved soon. I feel so so bad for you cause this must ben so frustrating and discouraging. I hope you, Amber & Terry ( & a shout out to Rubinman.) know that you’ve got people who support you and wellwishers and it’s not just a bunch of assholes out there on the net. BTW do you have a trademark for HotIgloo? I sure hope this is one of the last problems like this you have to face, seems so unfair! You should be spending your time writing creative perfect posts like you always do and not have to worry about people stealing from you!

  • Becky says:

    I hope this gets sorted out Amber, the last thing you guys need is ANOTHER person ‘caughty doing a mcnaughty!’ As someone else who makes a living from their online business I can completely understand your frustration. Ps, only just catching up on the blogs after a few weeks and am now becoming highly obsessed with the idea of going to San Francisco thanks to you! Looks like you had an amazing time. Becky x

  • Claire says:

    I don’t have anything useful to add, just to say I’m so sorry that this has happened again.

    I wish you luck getting the site shut down quickly with minimum fuss. People don’t seem to appreciate that in a small business there is very little time, and something like this can easily steal all of your time.

    And David….seriously!???

    • Amber says:

      Thanks, Claire, and everyone else who has offered support. I honestly feel like giving up, at this point. This is happening so often now that I’m starting to feel like no matter how hard we work, it’s always just a matter of time before the next person pops up to rip us off. In the past three months alone, I’ve had two brands duplicated by competitors, I’ve had large chunks of my sites plagiarised by multiple websites, I’ve had someone set up a Facebook page impersonating me (and using my business logo and personal photo to do so), I’ve had someone steal my intellectual property and try to extort money from me in order to make them stop, and I’ve had numerous other people steal photos of me for various reasons. I’m not sure what people like “David” feel I should do: just stand back and allow all of this to happen, so that these people can have jobs?

      I think to people who don’t make a living online, it’s probably hard to understand why this kind of thing matters, but of course there IS a cost to it, and it’s a cost that’s becoming increasingly hard for us to bear. It’s hard for me to worry about Albert’s potential loss of business (which is due to his own choices and actions) when I’m too busy worrying about my own.

      Sorry, that turned into a rant: I’m just at the end of my tether now with all of this!

      • KON says:

        Please, don’t say something so depressing (though I truly understand your frustration). Other peoples jobs shouldn’t weight more than your own. It’s just ridiculous what he wrote, like hell, this is business – not “we better be nice and all of us can play together”.
        The only thing I could suggest would be to do something really exemplary, so others think twice before ripping you off.

        But pleeeeaaaase, keep your spirit up, it would be depressing to know, that internet is such a threat to small businesses, that there is no option but to give up.

        • Amber says:

          Oh, we’re doing our best, and obviously the support of people like yourself has been a huge help with that: I think if this was the first time it had happened it would be different, but it’s just been so constant lately that it’s hard not to feel like we’re fighting a losing battle. It’s just sheer frustration, talking, to be honest!

      • Abby says:

        It is sad Amber. But your strength and will to fight send a message to any other copycats that you will not let someone else take what is yours. It is an inspiration to other bloggers who might face this sort of outrageousness.
        As for the rant, glad to hear one if it helps take a load off your mind.
        Love and Hugs
        Abby

  • Roisin says:

    What I can’t understand is why anyone would *want* for their business to have the same name as another one. I mean, I understand that it means there is the potential to poach business but surely the drawbacks of people confusing the businesses far outweigh any (totally shady) positives.

    I’m so sorry you and Terry are having to fight this again. I can’t begin to imagine how dispiriting it must be to have to work as hard at deflecting attacks like this as you do at your actual business x

    • Amber says:

      I know, this is what I struggle to understand, too. It was actually my mum who came up with the name “Hot Igloo”, and I remember us spending hours throwing names around and trying to come up with something unique… If we’d Googled it and discovered there was already another web design company using that name we’d have been disappointed (and also surprised at the coincidence, because it’s not like it’s an obvious choice of name!), but we’d have just tried to think of something else. I honestly can’t think of a good reason for using the name of an established brand!

  • Sonya says:

    Again? You’d think people would learn by now. And I consider it pathetic and irresponsible that people cannot take TWO SECONDS to google a site name before they use it. If they don’t even have the common sense to do that, I’d hate to see how they run their business.

  • Amber says:

    Albert’s now deleted all of the messages that were left on his Facebook page, and has blocked me from commenting. He has yet to respond to any of the messages we’ve sent, and seems to think that ignoring this issue will somehow make it OK for him to continue to steal our brand.

  • Zoe says:

    I’m sitting here wondering what this guy THOUGHT would happen. If he googled Hot Igloo before hand and still chose that company name, did he think he wouldn’t be found out? And once you contacted him, what does he think he will accomplish by ignoring you? Unless he’s three he should know that ignoring a problem generally doesn’t make it go away.

  • Itzel says:

    Some people don’t think about the consequences of what they do, it’d be so easy for him to just chance the name. I hope this doesn’t take too much energy and time from you. Someone I went to uni with was well known for being a plagiarist, she always denied it but we knew she preferred to take the easy way. She even stole my dog’s name (a name I made up) and I was soooo cross, I told everyone about her latest theft, I can only imagine how you feel.

  • Laura says:

    I hope this wraps itself up more quickly than the last debacle did. I guess you have such good ideas people just can’t help jumping on the band wagon and quite literally stealing stuff. Good luck, Laura x

  • Lindsay says:

    Nice one Terry for putting Albert eh sorry ‘David’ straight :)

  • Jaynie says:

    I don’t comment very often, but I do read, and I am flabbergasted by the sheer volume of people who so desperately want to be you that they sabotage your business to live in its shadows. What I really wanted to say, though, was that I am constantly impressed by the grace and maturity you (and Terry — and Rubin?) show in dealing with these people, even though they are so obviously in the wrong. You would be totally justified in throwing the biggest temper tantrum ever at finding another thief, but instead you try to deal with the situation privately, allowing the copycat several chances to fess up and back out. It’s really wonderful to see.

    I hope you can get this sorted quickly — you know you’ve got tons of readers, both regular commenters and not, behind you.

    • Amber says:

      Thanks, Jaynie, that really means a lot to us both (and Rubin, of course ;) ) because going public about this was something we agonized over for a long time, and it really was a last resort…The last thing we wanted was a public spat, but we really felt that we had no other option: we had given Albert every opportunity to speak to us privately and try to resolve it, and even at the point where he started deleting our messages from his Facebook, we STILL waited a while to see if he had deleted the message because he was planning to respond to our emails. We just want him to speak to us: I don’t think that should be too much to ask, but apparently it is! Anyway, thanks again for commenting: we’re doing our best to be professional, but I must admit, it’s not always easy!

  • jc says:

    A quick look at Mr Martino’s site tells you he is no professional, his forward thinking does not seem to go further than his nose. This is a prime example of how not to go about marketing anything. Rule one being find an original name.Something like “Honest Dave” might be worth a try, oh no some joker already has that one, its just the facts he is missing.

  • Emma says:

    Either he has blocked me, or the Facebook page is gone!

    I am so sorry this has happened to you guys. I bet I am not the only person who thinks “David” is part of this copycat company.

    Please don’t lose hope, I love your blog and would hate everything to be ruined for you.

    • Amber says:

      We think he’s put a country restriction on it, to block the whole of the UK. Honestly, the lengths that this guy is prepared to go to in order to avoid dealing with this issue is just ridiculous: it would be funny if it wasn’t so silly – I mean, does he honestly think we have no one in the rest of the world who can tell us what he’s up to?

      Just to make it even more annoying, when you look at the cache of the Facebook page, it was branded as “The Thinkhouse”, which is another of Albert’s site, up until June 25th, at which point he changed it to Hot Igloo. It should be easy enough for him to simply revert back to The Thinkhouse: I honestly can’t see why he can’t just do that.

      • Mona says:

        Maybe because if you google “Thinkhouse” it brings up an Irish PR agency and another internet marketing firm in Long Island, NY? Good luck with this, I am sorry you have to deal with this – again.

      • Hi Amber,
        Just to let you know that I’m in Australia and can’t see that page either. Perhaps someone in the US can let you know if it’s visible there.

        • Amber says:

          Yes, he’s blocked everyone except the US – all to avoid having to speak to two people. I’m flattered in a way – I had no idea that speaking to me was so terrifying that someone would block almost the entire world from his page, just to avoid me!

  • Ruth says:

    So sorry to hear this is happening to you again! I really hope it gets resolved quickly, you dont deserve this stress. You have been very reasonable so far, it must be hard. Good luck, I dont have much I can say but just wanted to offer my support!

  • Amber says:

    Thanks for your comments, everyone: unfortunately, the fact that Albert Martino would go to the extent of blocking an entire nation from his Facebook page, just to avoid speaking to us about this, suggests that he’s not planning to be reasonable, although I guess we knew that from all of the ignored and deleted messages! I don’t think I’ve ever seen such bizarre behaviour from someone who claims to be a marketing professional.

    Albert, I’m sure you’re reading this: if you really feel that you’ve done nothing wrong by appropriating our brand, then you should have no problem with speaking to us about this. Please don’t let cowardice prevent you from doing the right thing: you still have the opportunity to rescue this situation.

  • maz aka MallyMon says:

    Is this any good? http://hotigloo.net/contact.html
    Just wondering if people could message this person via this contact form. It’s all really sickening. Why can’t all these copycats just invent their own brand names? It’s not difficult to do. Good luck, once more! :) x

    • Amber says:

      That contact form didn’t work for us, although he may have fixed it by now, if he’s not too busy “smoking dope, making love and loading guns”, which is how he lists his interests on at least one of his online profiles! Given his behaviour so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t block everyone but the US from seeing his main website either. He obviously hasn’t realised that EVERYONE can read this post, regardless of their location, and that it will be one of the first things anyone will find if they Google his, or his business name. And this is a “search engine optimization specialist”.

      We sent messages to three different email addresses, and also left a message on his office voicemail: he would rather block the entire world from his site rather than face up to us, unfortunately.

      • Natasha says:

        I’m in Serbia, and can see his FB page. If you need info on what’s going on, feel free to contact me. Not much, but still. Also, now that I’ve seen the aforementioned page, I’m not at all surprised by his actions. I mean, one of his posts is a link to a logo of a random company, which he basically says is sh*t, so that he can point out how important good branding is. One, if it’s so important, you would think he’d come up with an original name and logo himself. Two, his idea of advertising is slagging off other people’s logos. Classy!

        • Amber says:

          Hmm, that’s interesting! He must have forgotten to block Serbia for some reason! Are the reviews and recommendations I left for him still there? (Don’t expect so for a second, given his belief that its possible to scrub the internet! I can’t help buy wonder how he thinks he’s going to get rid of this post?

          I noticed that post on his wall, too: I actually commented saying how unprofessional I found it to be criticising a competitor in that way (and especially behind their backs, without allowing them to defend themselves), but of course, it was deleted, along with all the rest of the comments on the page. He also has a “Fun Fact” about how he shares his office building with someone (can’t remember who). I really wanted to point out the other “Fun Fact” of him sharing his identity with the business he stole it from!

          • Natasha says:

            They’re still there! Maybe Al has now decided to avoid FB altogether. Or maybe he’s too busy coming up with another company name to steal!

            • Amber says:

              I’m actually wondering if he’s able to remove the reviews/recommendations…. For some reason, he has set his Facebook page up as a “public place”, rather than as a local business or website, which I guess could mean that he doesn’t have complete control over what’s posted in the form of recommendations. Shame.

            • Zoe says:

              I don’t believe he’s posted for a few days. Maybe he is going AWOL

  • Delaney says:

    It appears that they have blocked all commenting, as I’m in the US and there’s no option. I’m so sorry that this keeps happening to you! I’ve been reading your blogs for a while (I was searching for prom dresses in my junior year of high school, and stumbled upon a hilarious Fashion Police Ugly Prom Dress post), and I’ve only commented once or twice, but I want to voice my support. Keep fighting the good fight! Or as long as you can, anyway. Before you either collapse from exhaustion or run out of money…People are so thoughtless!

  • Laura Maggie says:

    Another silent reader popping in. I just wanted to say that even though I don’t comment on your posts, I read every one of your blogs daily and I have laughed myself silly over some of the posts; and thought about others for hours afterwards.

    So even though I can’t help you directly in any way, I can say that I admire your work and I admire you and I hope this will sort itself out somehow. I would feel sincerely sad if you had to close any of your blogs.

  • Emily I. says:

    Hello,

    Since you’ve been through this so many times already (sorry!) I know you have legal counsel already, but if you need one in the US I could put you in touch with our son, an attorney in Alabama. I don’t know if this is up his street, but he also writes for several websites, is honest and has very reasonable rates.

    Don’t feel bad about bringing this in the open, I check this site and Fashion Police first thing every morning and you have provided a lot of enjoyment for free, and much better fashion sense than current magazines. There’s no point to registered names, copyright or international law if everyone is going to ignore them.

    • Gary I. says:

      Emily I. sounds like a very bright, sensitive person. She’s probably very good looking as well. I’ve found that nice qualities often go together.

      I too find your writing and photos very entertaining, sometimes educational, and definitely worthwhile.

      Strangely enough, like Emily I., – wait, that doesn’t sound right. Start again:
      By strange coincidence, I also have a son who is an attorney, also in Alabama, also involved with writing for various websites. What are the odds? Anyway, that’s a legitimate offer of legal assistance in the U.S. if needed.

      TTFN

      • Amber says:

        Haha, this comment really made me smile :)

        Thanks so much, Gary and Emily – we will definitely bear that in mind, we really appreciate it :)

  • Gingerama says:

    So sorry–fingers crossed for you, and I’ll circulate the information.
    Gits.

  • Anneliese says:

    How does this keep happening to you?! It is so disheartening to think that so many people (and in such a short space of time) have been callous, shady and dishonorable human beings.

    Don’t lose faith and definitely don’t fret about posting about it on here. I will be in the US shortly, and I’ll be more than happy to visit phony Hot Igloo’s page and politely request that Albert gets in touch with you.
    – that is if it isn’t sorted by then and you don’t mind me being a meddling person!
    xx

  • msveve says:

    I tried contacting him via the link in the comment above but it didn’t work for me either, but I’m in Europe so that’s probably why.

    Anything we can do to help?

    • Amber says:

      I don’t think it’s anything to do with location, I think the contact form on his site just doesn’t work: we tried to use it long before this became public, and it didn’t work then, either!

  • Amber says:

    Hi everyone,

    Just a quick note to say thanks again for all of your comments and support with this: as with our last copycat issue, it really is a big help to Terry and I (in fact, it’s really the only positive thing to cone out of this whole mess!).

    I don’t have anything new to report: Albert Martino is still refusing to acknowledge us in any way, which I find cowardly in the extreme, not to mention short-sighted. It was his refusal to speak to us which forced us to bring this into the public domain, and I’m surprised that he can’t see that he’s only damaging his reputation further by continuing to ignore us, while trading under our name.

    I don’t want to say too much about our plans at this stage, because I can see from my web stats that I’m getting regular visits from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where Albert Martino is based, and well, I think I’d rather keep him guessing :)

    On that note, though, the fact that I know Albert is (probably) reading here is the reason I posted this (or one of the reasons): given that we have no other way to communicate with him at the moment, at least by having this post here, I can try to get my point across to him, even if he won’t give me even the courtesy of a response. I know some of you feel this has taken over my blog this week, and I’m really sorry about that: I hope you can tolerate it for a little longer, though, because although Albert can ignore my phonecalls and emails and block me from his wall, at least he can’t stop me writing on my own site.

  • Abby says:

    The homepage of hotigloo.net says ‘We take great pride in delivering fresh and original internet marketing solutions’ Hmm.Interesting.
    I can’t access the facebook page. Don’t tell me he blocked India.

    • Amber says:

      He blocked everywhere except America….

      • Emily I. says:

        As of right now, your comment and link is up on the faux hotigloo facebook page and has been for 7 hrs. Yeah, when we Americans want original marketing solutions and know how to Google, we obviously turn to someone who takes pride in “smoking dope, making love and loading guns.” Someone who is bright enough to post that information for potential clients, and handles legal disputes by hiding. In a professional mature sort of way. Sign me up! I see his website takes the moral high ground because they (claim to be) green and ride bicycles to work. Wow.
        Since you know he is following this, feel free to edit or not post this at all, I wanted to give you the heads up, not him.

        • Amber says:

          Thanks, Emily, that’s good to know… I honestly think he must not have realised that people will be able to find this post by Googling him (and not just prospective clients, but ANYONE. I mean, it’s the internet, people Google-stalk :) ), which is so bizarre, given that hes offering SEO services. And you know, he could still rescue his reputation by coming on here and saying something like, “Look, I hold my hands up, shouldn’t have done it, here’s how I’ll fix it.” We’re not unreasonable people: this isn’t about trying to destroy the guy, it’s just about trying to get him to acknowledge us, after all, and who knows, people might even respect him for having the guts to front up to us. But I don’t think anyone can possibly respect someone who hides like this, it’s just so pathetic!

          • Zoe says:

            Seriously though, what does this guy THINK will happen here? That you will eventually get distracted by a shiny object (or shoe) and forget all about the guy who is stealing your name, image and prospective clients and as such encroaching on your livelihood?

            • Amber says:

              I would really love to know what’s going on in his head, if anything. I think he probably thinks he’s got away with it, and that as long as he keeps ignoring me, and carefully deleted every message he ever receives, there’ll be nothing else I can do. Which is just staggering, really. Then again he’s “not a businessman, he’s a business, man!” according to him! Then again, his personal website, albertmartino.com looks like it’s been hacked, and according to the Google cache, it’s been like that for a while now, so he really doesn’t seem to care much.

  • e says:

    Trademark infringement is illegal in the US. If you sue him in the US, you will win. I suggest retaining US counsel (your UK counsel surely has an affiliate or partner in the US).

  • Michelle says:

    Hi Amber,

    I’m a recurrent visitor to your site and thoroughly enjoy all your content. As a marketing and SEO geek and someone trying to make a presence online i’m astounded and quite angry on your behalf that another company knowingly copied a brand/ company name.
    People like “david” are complete idiots to think that copying a company name is acceptable and will have no impact.
    Furthermore SEO “guru” Albert has to have the brain capacity of a fish to risk setting up a company that already exists elsewhere… it makes no sense from a brand perspective.
    OK i’m ranting now… and will probably rant more.. i’ll tweet this out to get some awareness going for you!

  • Amy says:

    Don’t know if you’ve tried his Google+ account yet?
    https://plus.google.com/103472312507431692941

    Sorry this keeps happening to both of you. :(

    I don’t know if you have done it already, but you might consider a donation fund so we can help pay for lawyers. I’d happily chunk some money your way even just to say thank you for all the entertainment over the years.

    • Amber says:

      I saw that! I added him to a circle called “People Who Are Ripping Me Off” and shared the link to this post with him. Amazed he hasn’t blocked me there too, yet :)

      Also, I’m so touched that you would offer to contribute to the legal costs, Amy, seriously, that kind of thing really helps restore my faith in humanity. I would feel really awful about asking anyone to contribute, but the fact that you offered really means a lot, so thank you :)

    • Zoe says:

      Oh my god, have you seen his last buzz post? It’s from March so well before this happened I guess, but his Gandhi quote seems perfect for this situation. Provided that Amber is the “you” and he the “they.”

      “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”
      — Mahatma Gandhi

      So, he’s done the ignoring. I’m going to guess that “David” was the ridiculing. So the good news is Amber, that according to him you only have one more step before you win!

      • Amber says:

        Lordy, that quote is appropriate! For us, though, as you said – in fact, I think I might appropriate it for myself ;) (It’s almost exactly how things have gone down with the other copycats so far!)

        It’s weird: from everything I’ve seen on Albert’s various profiles, he prides himself on being an eco-conscious, vegetarian, ethical kind of guy: it just seems odd to me to be so concerned about the state of the planet and the animals, but to have no qualms whatsoever about stealing someone’s livelihood and refusing to speak to them about it!

        • stephen says:

          Albertis a fraud…ethics are not part of his DNA..He posted on his sites once that he was sending 5% of all his proceeds to the American Cancer Society….He never sent them money , he used their logo w/o permission and they sent him letters making him stop. Albert once pitched this concept on my web sites..to say to donate to a charity and keep the money..he obvious was serious cause he did it after I fired him for being a LOSER.

  • Amy says:

    Ack, chuck! Not chunk. :p

  • Rachel says:

    Hi Amber.

    Please don’t stop posting this stuff on your blog. I think it’s really important that people know just how many copycats are out there. If nothing else, it might stop a few people who would otherwise copy a blog like yours.

  • Louise says:

    As per most of your previous commenter (ie: Not David), I heartily agree with them all. Go you guys! Just so you know you have supporters all other the world. If you started a fund, I could send you some Aussie dollars, they are worth more than american ones at the moment anyway! :) Good luck, and remember to hug your dog…. and your husband.

  • Hmm. If there is one good thing to come out of all this carry on it is that you and Terry are going to be able to host a set of seminars re Online Brand Protection 101 at a Bloggers Conference. Not a bad idea actually – get everyone to put in a donation to hear you guys speak and the proceeds could go into a trust fund for fighting McNaughties.

  • Siel says:

    I can’t believe I haven’t commented on this post yet! Sorry for that! I hope there will come an end to all the people trying to copy your business and name. I can only imagine how hard this must be for you and Terry, but you know you can always count on your readers for support! We love you ;)

    And what I really don’t understand: why is it so hard for people to invent their own business name instead of just taking someone elses???

  • Sammi says:

    Amber, I am so sorry that this is happening yet again.

    I checked the reviews on his facebook and yours is still there. as well as this new one that I just left for you. I really hope Albert will pay attention now and that this gets resolved as soon as possible.

    I can’t even give this one star. Maybe you would get more positive reviews if you didn’t sit here and pretend that you came before Amber. Her life is based off of HER Hot Igloo brand. She can lose EVERYTHING if you continue to rip her off like this. Would it really be so hard to simply change your name to something else because of this conflict? I’m sure if you actually decided to simply talk with Amber and Terry a compromise would easily be reached. The fact that you sit here and continue to just ignore everything they try to do just makes your reputation go down the drain. The world knows this problem and a google search of your name just comes up with amber’s post of how you rip her off and then refuse to even acknowledge her existence. Have fun with people seeing this review and then never wanting anything to do with your company.

    • Amber says:

      Thanks so much, Sammi, I really appreciate the support. And what you say about him being able to change his name is so true: up until a few weeks ago, he was trading as “The Thinkhouse”: that’s actually the URL of his Facebook page, and the associated website was still online up until a few days ago. He also trades as “Nepa” web design, so he has a few different brands he can use: but for some reason, a few weeks ago he decided he had to use mine as well! It presumably wouldn’t be too hard for him to just go back to his old name, or to choose another one, seeing as he seems to change names fairly often!

  • Zoe says:

    Amber, the Think House/Imposter Hot Igloo page no longer exists. Did you have something to do with that or did he cut and run?

    • Amber says:

      Yes, we filed a DMCA with Facebook and they’ve removed the page :) This is really good news for us, because it means that Facebook agreed that what Albert was doing was wrong: it’s not easy to get Facebook to remove a page, so the fact that they were willing to do it says a lot about how Albert’s other web hosts might act.

      It’s sad that it had to come to this, though, because it means that Albert has now lost all of the followers he had on that page, and all of the posts he put onto it. If he’d just agreed to speak to us about this, that wouldn’t have happened, because we’d have worked something out with and allowed him time to rebrand, so there would’ve been minimal impact on him. But as it is, it’s been over a month now since we first tried to contact him, and we’ve yet to hear a word from him, which leaves us no option but to go down this route.

      • Zoe says:

        Well, I hope this is the end of this mess. It is sad it ended this way but honestly, he only has himself to blame.

        • Amber says:

          Well, we still have to have his main website removed: we decided to speak to Facebook first, so we’re really happy that they agreed to remove the page! But yes, it would be a good idea for Albert to think about speaking to us now!

  • stephen says:

    https://www.facebook.com/hotiglooSEO albert is still on face book

    • Amber says:

      Thanks for letting me know, Stephen… When this happened, we managed to get his Facebook page removed, but before we did, he blocked us (and everyone else who isn’t in the US!) from viewing it, so I can never tell whether he’s back again or not! Hopefully we’ll be able to get this one removed as well…

  • Anonymous! says:

    Ahh I see how you keep the truth from getting out that what you’re fighting against is completely legal, you screen your comments. Clever!

Comments are closed.