I spent the three-day weekend shooting the Austin City Limits Music Festival. It was great. This morning, Pitchfork Media published my photos. Then, a couple hours later, I get an interesting email. Here it is in its entirety:
message: I'll have my lawyers contacting you soon.
I suggest you seek some legal advice in regards to your brand name.
First: David Hill
Of course, I'm well aware that there are various other guys in the world named David Hill who take pictures, such as this one in San Francisco, this one from the 19th Century, this one in Canada, this one from Atlanta, and this one in England.
However, the one relevant to this email is currently the most famous of us all, Dave Hill. Dave does really awesome work with bands, WWE superstars, the guy from Napoleon Dynamite, products, and all kinds of other stuff. His look is famous in photo circles for being the first to mix stylistic elements the way he does, and a google search will reveal countless forum posts written by people trying to get his look. I've always hoped that one day all the David Hills would get together, and I'd get to meet him.
So naturally, I found this email slightly disturbing. From a legal perspective, it's practically impossible to trademark a combination of a common name and a common word. "David Hill Photography" is about as likely to get trademark status as "John Smith Food." Wanting to know if this was for real, I immediately called David's agency, Fox Creative. They said they would look into it and call me back. Meanwhile, I found Dave's cell phone and left him a voice mail assuring him that I would be willing to disambiguate our brands on the friendliest of term. I waited a few hours and called Fox again. I spoke with Paige, who said she represents Dave, and she assured me that she had contacted Dave, and that Dave said the email I had received was a phony. That was a relief. UPDATE: Today, Sept. 30, Dave himself emailed me to reply,
"No one can copyright their own name! Especially one as common as ours! haha ... Keep rockin' in Austin!"
So, to the prankster: You're very funny. I hope this made your day!