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SEO being trademarked, AGAIN!?!

Written by David Harry   
Thursday, 21 January 2010 14:56

Circle the wagons? Or 'Who gives a shit?'

SEO trademark guy part duex

One of my SEO Dojo peeps came to me this morning asking if I knew about the guy that was trying to Trademark the term; SEO. I said, “Sure, that Jason Gambert Guy right?” – Oh no… apparently he has some competition. One Clinton Cimring… huh, news to me…

Apparently he;

…was one of the first published search engine optimizers (SEOs) and search engine optimization consultants[1] and currently holds the only trademark on the term, S.E.O.

They go on to say;

…he has had a trademark pending on the term since 1996 and it seems to be between he and a Jason Gambert.

Aparently he is "well known in the search engine optimization[5] arena for introducing new techniques or approaches to search engine optimization such as SEO 2.0 and coining the terms, SEO 2.0, reverse seo, and buzz keywords" - Someon might want to tell Tad about that...

Sheesh …. Here we go again. For those of you that missed it last time, just do some Googlin’ for ‘Jason Gambert, SEO trademark’ and there was plenty of commentary last time out.

Almost the laughable part of this is that many of my cohorts have recently been somewhat embarrassed to be called an SEO because of all the crap hat and bad publicity it gets…. So hey, by the time either of these folks gets the tradement (highly unlikely) it won’t be worth shit… right? I jest…

Read more of the claims here (please nofollow any links to this guy m’kay peeps?)

Do the Math

My buddy Steve mused this from the page;

  • claims he joined the marines after 9/11 at 17
  • so - 2001 - 5 = 1996
  • 17- 5 = 12
  • so he was 12 years old when he invented SEO

Not the trademark you are looking for


Barry (over on Search Engine Land) found the Trademark filing which leads to the actual Docs from the filing. One of them, titled; Response to Office Action,(top one) has this... (damned funny IMO);

"We are attaching evidence of the distinctiveness of our mark. The company we acquired, The International Cimring Group, Inc., which shares the same board of directors as this company invested a considerable amount of money in branding the mark, S.E.O., and associating the mark with the company. It is reasonable to trace the first use and widespread acceptance of the acronym in question directly to the company vise-a-vie the attached sample proposal. (Our acronym stands for Strategically Elevating Optimization and not Search Engine Optimization. In 1997 the service known as search engine optimization  was called web site optimization among several other terms because the process of optimizing websites "offsite" did not yet exist because search engines like Google that look for ranking factors outside of the websites themselves did not exist. It is common knowledge that the first use of the term search engine optimization dates back to 1997 and all of the experts admit to not knowing how it came about but do admit that the acronym S.E.O. came about before the term search engine optimization. We can obtain affidavits from several experts if need be.)

The attachment is a sample proposal and invoice sent to a client. The scanned images are scanned from the original documents dating back to 1996-1997. We have retained originals as proof. The proposal shows considerable effort in drafting the terms by the company and attorneys. At the time the acronym in question was unheard of. Only after a year of the company sending out thousands of these proposals did the acronym gain nominal use by competitors. The company can further obtain affidavits from former employees as to the number of proposals that were sent out and the sales efforts expended in this effort."

Emphasis = mine

Whaaaat? As one friend said, "Is that even proper engish?". So it's 'Strategically Elevating Optimization' that they're after? So an SEO company wants to trademark SEO, but not that SEO... another one. Bwaaha ha ha ha ha... this just gets better all the time...First, they say it isn't actually 'search engine optimization' then go on to explain what the term (dating back to 1997) is somehow also NOT that... So did we screw up? Am I actually doing 'search elevation optimization' and didn't know it? Man, I am confused...time to call me shrink and make an appointment.

It is interesting that all of the attached docs as evidence (invoices, contracts) all say 'search engine optimization'... but he says that's not what SEO (his version) is.... sheesh... this is just loopy

In the second 'Reply to office Action" they state;

"Again, there are other synonymous terms like search engine placement, search engine marketing, internet marketing, internet optimization, internet placement, search engine results optimization, etc...

Until the term does become standardized, if it ever will, I have the right to trademark the term as our tagline Strategically Elevating Optimization, especially considering we have used it since before search engine optimization became a term. The only other person to register the term was Jason Gambert who we objected to as his first use dates back to 20070214, while our first use dates back to 1996 with my father's company, The International Cimring Group, Inc. a Florida profit corporation."

At least they aknowledge ol Jason and his kick at the can with this... Maybe the two of them can get oiled up and we can throw them into the ring together. Anyways, sound off in the comment peeps… is this just another false alarm? Or something we should be concerned with and fighting?



-1 # Gennady Lager 2010-01-21 15:07
This is a joke. Its not even his claim of coining "SEO." Its everything else in here. This guy is laying it on so thick, claiming stupid terms like "SEO 2.0" and "Reverse SEO." And talking about his intricate knowledge of search engine algorithms. He's also an avid name-dropping as you can see...I guess he developed that at the ripe old age of 12 (as you mentioned, David).

This whole article has me so annoyed in so many ways. I'm glad he is able to get Google to auto-complete the last 2 letters of his name for him and that wikipedia recognizes him as an SEO.

I hope real business dont believe the shit this guy is writing.
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0 # steveplunkett 2010-01-21 15:24
that's the problem... they probably do...
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-1 # steveplunkett 2010-01-21 15:14
A good example of why wikipedia should be removed from google.. someone who actually owns a US copyright for SEO code can't get a listing but this fraud can?

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0 # Nichola Stott 2010-01-21 15:15
Can you seriously get a trademark on an initialist form of abbreviation, when the term abbreviated describes an occupation, or action?

Is there any other precedent?

Also - would that stand cross-border? We might be okay on this side of the Atlantic??? YAY.
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0 # Dave 2010-01-21 15:20
lol.... yea G, the whole page makes for a great laugh to be honest. We've been talking, laughing and ripping it apart this morning (in the Dojo chat room)... Totally whacky. We searched the trademark office for pending and can find no trace of him. Some strange shit there man...
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0 # Gennady Lager 2010-01-21 15:22
My favorite part is the picture of him in a group of people. Notice that no one is paying attention to him? Do they even know he's there?

Great choice of picture.
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0 # Dave 2010-01-21 15:24
@Steve I have searched Wiki and can't find mention of, not sure what that's about. Maybe just blowin smoke? Or was removed? No idea.

@Nicola we actually went through this once before with Jason Gambert, it seems they aren't having much luck with it. If we believe this fellow, he's been trying for 12 years to get it... that likely says something right there....soooooo.... =D
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0 # Gennady Lager 2010-01-21 15:29
I'd like to coin the term CESIFMB2BIITDS:

Cutting Edge Seamless Integrated Flexible Modular B2B Industrial Information Technology Data Solution

And if someone coined that already, I'll just add a 2.0 on the end of it and call myself the only living expert.
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+1 # Kay Dinsdale 2010-01-21 15:32

Does that sound like a deviant sexual activity to anyone else? Perhaps it's just me...
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+1 # Matthew Diehl 2010-01-21 16:29
So, I am to believe that the guy who has a pending trademark on SEO couldn't get work in his specialty field in 2005 when he left the Marine Corps? 2005 had SEO on the up-tick and jobs were definitely available. So, what does he do - gets a job as a personal training (no biggie, everyone needs to work). Then he claims to have invented the weight loss content for health clubs, yeah right!

Serious ass-hattery going on here.
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0 # Dave 2010-01-21 16:52
Lol Matt... the more we went into it the weirder it seemed to get. Question now is... "How good is his buzz monitoring?"

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0 # Searchengineman 2010-01-21 20:15
I think this guy needs lots of comments in SideWiki - Feel free to get creative.

Entered in Side Wiki:
Make sure you No Follow for sure!

Dude --Are You Out of Your #$@$%$# Mind Patent 77643198 ?
What cave did you crawl out of. I guess your scheme to patent the alphabet didn't work out. Nor the scheme to patent the colors of the rainbow!

I'm thinking of putting out a patent on people who put out stupid patents. I'd like use you as my proof of concept!

No ..No..I'm on a roll....

Perhaps you're trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records another way. You should stick to the old fashioned way by dating celebrity, and making a sex tape.

But you would have to pay me for the right to do that. As I can let you use my business plan.

Gosh I love SideWiki.

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0 # Gennady 2010-01-21 20:34
Has anyone seen his twitter profile?

I'm Clinton Cimring. Been in the SEO business since Webcrawler was a SE and Rankdex came out with PR.

95 followers...pretty lame for the Doc Brown of SEO.
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0 # Gennady 2010-01-21 20:50
What does 'Strategically Elevating Optimization' mean?

It sounds like something someone made up to fill the acronym's letters because they want to side-step the facts through the patent office.
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0 # Matthew Diehl 2010-01-21 20:57
I encourage everyone to poke around the Search Engine Partners site for... 10 seconds. You will surely find something blatently misleading with the site. Here are two I found:

Big 'ole Gaurentee link at the top, seriously...

And, the Google Analytics Authorized Consultant image at the bottom. Good thing Google posts a list of Authorized Consultants and ...[drum roll]... Search Engine Partners is NOT on it!

Just blows my mind that someone who totes to be such an expert is using some seriously
misleading tactics on the site.

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0 # Mark Pilatowski 2010-01-21 21:06
Haha. What a freaking joke. Love this line on the About page "We have been rated time and time again as the top “SEO firm” in the US According to AboutUs, Demandbase,, Zimbio, SeoMasterList, Digg, TechIT, and more..." o_O
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0 # kay 2010-01-21 21:13
Funny how when searching specific date ranges in Google, between 1995 and 2000 there are no results for clinton cumring, sorry, CIMRING. Yet there are plenty for SEO (as in Search Engine Optimisation)...
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+1 # Justin Parks 2010-01-21 22:11
I think we should trademark the word "criming"

definition:- an attempt by person or persons to lay claim to a particular word, phrase, product, industry, culture, planet, small moon, asteroid, star, galaxy, milky way or universe that has been in existence since time forget or at least a millennium. Person or persons are immediately considered unhinged and possibly in need of professional medical attention, or just a good kicking.
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0 # Michael Martinez 2010-01-21 22:24

Do a whois lookup on the domain name sawgrassmillsma, which is mentioned in an invoice dated January 10, 1997.

Do the math.
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0 # Navin Poerann 2010-01-21 23:03
Created On: 1997-08-31 04:00:00 GMT


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+1 # Kayla Smith 2010-01-22 19:00
:grr: :grr: I've worked for Search Engine Partner since 2007 and worked for ICG in the 90's. We did actually use the term SEO back then. While everyone was referring to the service as search engine placement, we called it web site optimization, so the slogan was strategically elevating optimization. :flame:

I'm also pretty sure Danny Sullivan was the first to use the term SEO in the sense of search engine optimization, although I know he doesn't want to take credit. The reason you've probably never heard of Clinton is that he was in the Marines prior to forming Search Engine Partner fighting for your freedom!

PS I do have to admit you guys have some pretty funny comments up there...
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0 # Vance Sova 2010-01-22 23:46
Trademark for SEO is weird. If anybody can trademark something that has been used for years and is a common knowledge then something is seriously wrong.

I think that only brand new things can be trademarked before they become wide spread and the name needs to be original and unique. Otherwise words like flying could be trademarked out of the English language too.

This acronym is made up of ordinary words.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. All tree words are in the dictionary and have been in common use for a long, long time.

It's not a product name. Plus this guy claims different words for it. He's out to lunch.

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0 # SEO 2010-01-23 01:43
lolol this guy is a joke!
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-1 # Michael VanDeMar 2010-01-23 07:28
They need stiffer penalties for people who file fraudulent claims like this.
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+1 # Clinton Cimring 2010-01-23 22:24
OK seriously, you guys need to focus on more important things like the fact that there's a pug dressed in a purple monkey costume on my Twitter page. Seriously.
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0 # Justin Parks 2010-01-26 13:42
Honestly though, where you 12 when you invented strategically elevating optimization? Even though it don't make sense as technically "strategically elevating" has the same significance as the word "optimiztion" in the context of SEO (I guess I have to pay you to say that...)
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+1 # Domenick 2010-01-24 17:36
My buddy Steve mused this from the page;

* claims he joined the marines after 9/11 at 17
* so - 2001 - 5 = 1996
* 17- 5 = 12
* so he was 12 years old when he invented SEO - LMFAO!

Yeah, SERIOUSLY Clinton, "Strategically Elevating Optimization" WTF??

These last couple of weeks alot of companies and individuals have been getting their teeth kicked in, and i'm enjoying every minute of it.
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0 # mike 2010-01-26 16:52
o_O don't know what to say. The whole thing seems completely mental but having said that I have just changed to menthol cigs to cut down on my daily intake of cigs - and will no doubt wake up tomorrow and this whole trademarking debacle will prove to be a bad dream.
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0 # Kay Dinsdale 2010-01-26 22:40
kayla smith and clinton are repeating the same responses everywhere, have you ever heard about duplicated content?

And the fighting for your freedom remark, have you been watching braveheart over and over again? Please.

Now about that ridiculous pug dog, I don't think purple is his colour.
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0 # internet marketing san antonio 2010-02-03 10:04
Is that a question? Is it not obvious. Well ,you have explain it great. Great job.
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0 # Rhea Drysdale 2010-03-18 19:33
So, here's the deal - the application appears to be on suspension. This is likely due to Gambert's application. The Board is waiting to see the results of that prior to moving forward with this. If Gambert was granted the trademark then that would have probably thrown this one out. Since he was not, this will move forward in a bit. Meanwhile, the Board also let Clinton Cimring know that they thought the mark was descriptive and he would have to prove why it wasn't. Five applications for SEO have been filed since 2008 I think. Of those five, three were abandoned because of descriptiveness . Each time these applications are abandoned it makes it more difficult for future applicants to succeed. "SEO" in the marketing services field is being seen as descriptive and possibly generic mark. I doubt Mr. Cimring will succeed even if he's been around the space for awhile unless he uses the Gambert method of confusing the hell out of the Board. Everyone needs to keep an eye on this application. Once the suspension is lifted he has until May to respond to the issue of the mark being descriptive. I've got a Mac, but if you're PC feel free to get the Feathers software for Board alerts on these applications.
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0 # Dave 2010-03-18 19:50
Very nice stuff Rhea, I shall certainly keep an eye on it (tnx for the lead) I hang out on USPTO a bunch, but it's always on the patent side as U might imagine ;0)

From what I did read on this filing, it sure didn't seem to be going to well for Clinton, and I wasn't overly concerned... but after reading your adventure, I am realizing I may not have taken it serious enough. Hopefully as a few get squashed we can eventually put this one to bed for good. Thanks again on the GREAT work - we've had more than a few members get on board with donations and even sent $100 on behalf of the Dojo itself. Thanks for being a superhero (gonna have to update my SEO Superheroes post).

Oh and of course, thanks for dropping in with some further info! =D
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0 # YB 2012-02-01 04:23
So this thread seems kind of dead, but I definitely almost fell for spending my entire summer working for this guy for free. His internship offering is listed everywhere.

I'm a junior at a top-tier university, definitely lured in by the prospect of getting great copywriting experience, and if this asshat thought he could e-mail me as the 'CEO of Search Engine Partners' (what kind of CEO has time to write prospective interns e-mails?) without me researching his name he had another thing coming.

So glad to have found this thread.

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