Maureen and I are incredibly upset. We found out that Beverly Ulbrich, owner of The Pooch Coach in San Francisco, is using the same name as our group: Dog Connect. It goes beyond words to explain how hurt and upset we are. We started in October 2012 as a small but consistent group of dog owners, lovers and trainers. On March 1, 2013, we received the Beast of the Bay Award for our work. We were so proud of what we had accomplished in such a short time.
Our registration details:
Ms. Ulbrich’s details:
Not in a million years did Maureen or I even think of protecting our entity. We have a blog and an online group. We gave it a name so people knew where to find us. We volunteer our time to share dog related subjects. Our goal was to open people up to force free training. It was our way of giving back to the community. There is no income as compensation. We volunteer our time and share our knowledge.
Having two Dog Connects in the SF Bay Area is very confusing. As a former Marketing Manager for Multi-national companies in Europe and Asia I can tell you all about branding. It is the 101 of beginners marketing. Branding is important because you want to distinguish yourself from another business, service or product. When we did our search for our group name we didn’t only “google” the name. We did extensive research. We didn’t trademark the name because we are not generating money out of this free service and we simply didn’t feel the need because Dog Connect SF grew rapidly and gained popularity especially when our name was published on March 1, 2013 and the amount of group members doubled during that time. The Bay of the Beast Award was the reward for all the work we had done and with that we earned a good reputation within the SF Bay Area dog community.
On March 1, 2013 our name was published in Bay Woof (http://www.BayWoof.com and in their printed version that can be found all over the SF Bay Area) as the winner of the Beast of the Bay Award. On March 5, 2013 Beverly Ulbrich registered the domain names sf-dog-connect.com and sfdogconnect.com with GoDaddy.com. On May 10, 2013 she registered her business in San Francisco. On July 12, 2013 she launched SF Dog Connect on Meetup.com. That is when we found out about the use of our name for her business.
When we became aware of the situation we contacted Beverly Ulbrich and asked her to change the name. She refused. Ms. Beverly Ulbrich already owns a dog training business called The Pooch Coach: http://www.poochcoach.com. (Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-pooch-coach-san-francisco)
A few days after contacting her we received the following communication from her lawyer, Roy Gordet. LettertoMosbach07242013_0000. A phone call and another letter followed:
“Dear Ms. Mosbach:
This is further to my letter dated July 24, 2013 concerning Beverly Ulbrich and SF Dog Connect and to the voice message that I left for you on Friday, July 26 requesting that you call me to discuss the situation.
The false and defamatory statements must be removed because they are damaging to my client’s reputation and business and we need your immediate confirmation in writing that they have been removed. Your refusal to respond does not help solve this serious problem.
According to the posts that were publicly available on Facebook and your email correspondence to my client, you have access to legal counsel. In an effort to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion without the need for my client filing a lawsuit, if you do not wish to discuss this with me, I encourage you to have your attorney contact me so that we can discuss a resolution and the parties can move on, to the extent that is possible. The situation is currently intolerable from my client’s perspective and my client cannot simply walk away from it. Indeed, as is obvious, not only you, but certain others in your group, have made defamatory statements.
Since the sending of my July 24 letter, as I mentioned in my voice message, we have noticed that you have posted a disclaimer at your site. However, by including the reference to “force free” methods preceding your disclaimer of no affiliation with my client, you have maliciously imputed force training to my client, which is not true and is defamatory. This defamatory reference preceding the disclaimer must be removed immediately.
Although access to your Facebook group is now restricted, rest assured that if a lawsuit is filed, civil pre-trial discovery will require you to turn over all postings and relevant correspondence from before and after my July 24 letter. Our preference continues to be that we reach a resolution without the need for filing suit.
Again, please contact me or have your counsel contact me without further delay if you will refuse to immediately remove all false and defamatory postings about my client. In any case, if before close of business on Friday, August 2nd, I do not have the confirmation in writing concerning the removals that we requested previously and above, we will assume that you would prefer that the matter be litigated in the appropriate court.
Very truly yours,
We allow you to judge for yourself. We are still upset as of a result of the events that led to this situation. We are grateful for the amount of support we have gotten in the SF Bay Area and beyond. We are prepared should we get sued. Facts don’t lie. Threatening to sue may provide some personal satisfaction but is in general a poor public relations move. The whole situation has already backfired for Ms. Ulbrich among many dog professionals in the SF Bay Area. Ms. Ulbrich has the choice of making the right decision that would result in this conflict and negative attention going away. We cannot change the opinion of people who know her. As a public figure you expose yourself to both praise and criticism as a result of your actions. It is part of the deal. It is in her hands to determine what her image will be.
Mosbach’s musings: The word “professional” defines people that have a high standard of professional ethics, behavior and work activities while carrying out one’s profession. These people should also have expert and specialized knowledge in field which one is practicing professionally through means of education and certification. A professional has excellent manual/practical and literary skills in relation to profession. Professional dog experts have knowledge in animal behavior by using scientific based animal learning theories. The only form of punishment that trainers should use is negative punishment. That is only used by positive reinforcement trainers. We use two quadrants of Skinner’s Operant Condition: positive reinforcement (rewarding good behavior) and negative punishment (removing something desirable to achieve the desired behavior): loss of privileges, removing a dog from his play date if poor behavior is shown. All other trainers use fear and pain to achieve the desired behavior. A professional understands business. A professional knows his/her trade. Yet how is it possible that a former Marketing Executive with Sun Microsystems ends up with an existing name? Google analysis show that we were the only Dog Connect in the US and in March our web site hits were the highest. Ms. Ulbrich is also the winner of the Bay of the Beast award of 2009. Coincidence or not? I’m too much of a professional to believe in coincidence. We may not spend thousands in lawyer’s cost to settle our dispute but outing facts and our opinions has yet to be called defamation. Ms. Ulbrich had choices and she continues to use our name. If at any point in time it would have been a mistake and she oversaw it she could have stepped back but she didn’t. Questioning her motivation. Honored to know that she likes our name and tries to thrive on it but it also works the other way around.
The goal of our group was to educate the public about the misconception of training. The unregulated world of dog training where anyone can step up and call themselves a dog trainer. Look at the “About” page. See what education the individuals has. They can boast about being on tv and having connections but what really matters is the educational part. A behaviorist can only call themselves one if they have graduated as such (APDT.org) If there is not college degree they are not one. Self proclaimed behaviorist is misleading and misusing of the term. Remember one saying: “I’ve had teeth all my life but it doesn’t make me a dentist.” The same counts for those who have no education in training and behavior.
Jean Donaldson (http://www.academyfordogtrainers.com) provided us with the idea to start this group. She has been our mentor. A professional animal behaviorist, author and one of the world’s best dog trainers.
Coming to a conclusion of my musings: Flabbergasted. I don’t use adjectives a lot. I leave those to people who are desperately trying to make a point but don’t have the legal means to support it. I’ve worked with the best lawyers but they didn’t need to threaten. Once you start up high to intimidate a person there is no more options. Every attempt to make a situation work is lost. I have a peace officer as a husband and they are trained in such techniques. Lawyers are trained to intimidate in the hope they will get the other party to their knees. That would have worked unless you are dealing with someone that knows the law. In the meantime I have an offer to pursue further legal actions. We have rights to our names even though we didn’t legally trademark it. It causes confusion but until now it has worked in our favor.
Since Dog Connect is our name and we established the name in the SF Bay Area, we will continue to use it. We are supported and endorsed by top notch dog trainers in the professional dog world, rescues and Bay Area dog lovers. We know in the end we will gain without pain! In order to protect Dog Connect and continue advocating for force free training, we need your help. We will be ramping up our marketing efforts and continue providing quality content. Please share our group with your friends and colleagues and continue helping us make every dog a force free dog. Expect professional help based on science based training methods!
Dog Connect SF Bay Area promotes the use of force free methods. We are not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by or in any way officially connected with Beverly Ulbrich, The Pooch Coach and SF Dog Connect (sf-dog-connect.com / sfdogconnect.com) or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates.