Take the Tour      The following was originally published when Mike Maurer had the website at Forty-Twenty.com. It is reprinted here with Mike's permission, as a warning to all who dare to "cross up" John Deere.

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Sorry folks, but I had to shut down the Trade Mark History Page.  It seems I've become a bit infamous at Deere Corporate Headquarters, but I'm sure I'm not the only one out there.  I received a certified letter the other day from Deere & Company's Senior Patent & Trademark Attorney asking me to remove any leaping deer logos that were displayed on my pages.  I thought you would be interested in reading what they said in the letter.  The following is an exact quote from the Patent & Trademark Attorney.


28 November 2000

"Dr. Mr. Maurer,

I have recently been made aware of your website at forty-twenty.com because of the use of Deere & Company's logos.  We appreciate that you are a fan of the 4020 tractor and a John Deere enthusiast.  The leaping deer logos, however, are registered trademarks of Deere & Company.  We must ask, therefore, that you remove Deere & Company's logos from your web pages.

We don't want to discourage you from operating your web page.  We are required by law to respond to unauthorized use of our trademarks.  If we fail to police our trademarks, we could lose our rights to our trademarks.  Please feel free to continue operating your web site without the logos.

Please write to let us know that you will comply with our request.  I have enclosed a stamped, self-addressed envelope for your convenience.


M. W.  Mihm 

Senior Patent & Trademark Attorney"


At first I was pretty tweaked about this, so I calmed down and thought for a bit about the situation and decided to email Mr. Mihm and asked a few questions.  I will insert the text from those messages for your review.


12 December 2000

"Mr. Mihm,

I have received your certified letter in response to the use of Deere & Company's logos on my website, forty-twenty.com.  In your letter, you state, "We are required by law to respond to unauthorized use of our trademarks."  I would like to know what law that is, i.e., is it Federal Law, or a Policy that John Deere has.  Also, what can one do to become authorized to use the trademarks?  My site is non-profit and is strictly for information's sake to those hobbyists who enjoy classic tractors. Does Deere & Co. grant the use of the logos in those types of situations?  I hope to hear from you soon and hope we can come to some sort of middle ground on this.


Michael E. Maurer"


Mr. Mihm's response to the above email message from yours truly.


12 December 2000

"Dear Mr. Maurer,

Thank you for your response to my letter.  You ask what law it is that requires us to police our trademarks.  Under federal law, if we knowingly allow others to use our trademark without our approval then we can eventually lose our rights to that trademark.  If we did lose such rights then we might be precluded from preventing others, including competitors, from using that trademark.  So in this sense, we are compelled to police our trademarks and object to unauthorized uses of our trademarks or risk loss of our rights to those marks.  You also ask what can one do to become authorized to use the Deere trademarks. You mention that you run a non-profit hobby oriented organization.  Use of the Deere trademarks by collector organizations such as yours would imply a connection, affiliation with or approval from Deere & Company, which is not present.  Deere generally does not endorse any third party collector organizations.  While Deere is very pleased to see such organizations filling the needs of collectors, Deere does not officially endorse or otherwise associate itself with any such third party organization.  We do not want to discourage you from operating your site.  And you are certainly free to refer to Deere & Company in a factual sense in text within your website.  But use of our logo on such a website implies a connection or affiliation with Deere, and therefore we must request that you not use the leaping deer or other trademarks in this manner.  Thank you for your understanding in this matter.


Mike Mihm

Senior Patent & Trademark Attorney

Deere & Company"


Another question in response to the above reply from Mr. Mihm.


13 December 2000

"Mr. Mihm,

I can understand Deere's position and wanting to protect it's Trademark heritage and legal rights, but I wonder if some sort of disclaimer on each page stating that any use of the logo or Deere name does not constitute any affiliation with Deere & Co. would suffice.  I've seen that "work-around" on some other pages on the net for hobby purposes and it seems to cover everyone.  (Sorry, I can't give any specific examples right now; I'm drawing a blank at the moment.) Anyhow, I'm working on taking the logos off and will do so by the end of today, but I am just asking the question for my edification and so I can help advise other Deere hobbyists.

Thanks for your patience,

Michael E.  Maurer"


Mr. Mihm's response to my second email.


13 December 2000

"Dear Mr. Maurer,

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter, and for agreeing to remove the logos from your site.  Disclaimers can be helpful in certain situations, such as when trademarks are used in text of a paragraph. Then a footnote to the effect that the trademarks are owned by XYZ company can help eliminate confusion regarding who owns the marks.  But if XYZ's logo is used as a heading of a web site for example, or in some other way that would result in a person getting the mistaken impression that XYZ endorses or in some way approves the material in which the logo appears, then a disclaimer will probably not be effective to eliminate that impression.  So in many situations a disclaimer will not be sufficient.

Again, thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

M. W.  Mihm"


Well there you have it.  The whole interaction.  Part of me wants to say that this is just a case of Deere being a corporate bully slappin' the little guy around, but the other part of me understands Deere's position.  They do have to protect the trademark and it's heritage.  I'm all for that.  I couldn't imagine some other tractor company with the leaping deer logo on it's hood or side panel.  That's pretty much unthinkable.  But it still hurts.  I mean, I just dropped 5800 bucks on a new JD 335 Lawn and Garden tractor and this is the thanks I get?!?!?!  Fellow JD hobby webmaster, Gene, has also commented on this subject.  You can see what "Meli" has to say on this page at Gene's John Deere Page.   He's taken preemptive action before JD got wind of his display of logos and removed them.  So for all of you who have a Deere hobby page, you have been warned.  You can't hide for long - you could be next.


If you actually want to see the Trademark History...click here and go to the Official Deere Trademark History page.  I'll leave this up as long as the link is good.  When it no longer works, please email me and I can pass the information along to you that way.  Thanks!



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