PENN VALLEY (CBS13) – There is a David and Goliath battle going on in Nevada County where two entrepreneurial teens are under attack from a nationally known department store.
Sears is going after 13-year-old twins James and Andrew Schnitzius over the name of their lawn care business: Weed Whackers R Us.
According to the twins’ mother, Clarissa Schnitzius, the boys started the business last summer to earn money to buy iPod Touches.
“We taught them if you want something you have to work hard for it and so they decided well, ‘we’ll do yards this summer’,” said Clarissa Schnitzius.
Their uncle helped them come up with the name Weed Whackers R US and made a one-page website to get the word out to their small community of Lake Wildwood.
The problem, Sears has trademarked the name Weedwacker®. Lawyers for Sears sent a letter this week accusing the boys of trademark infringement and cybersquatting. Sears is demanding the boys take down the website and discontinue using the name Weed Whackers R Us.
CBS13’s Nick Janes asked the twins, “Are you trying to compete with Sears?”.
“No, no. We didn’t think of it,” said Andrew Schnitzius.
“We’re just 2 13-year-old kids in a small neighborhood,” added brother James. “It’s kinda surprising.”
If the boys do not take down the website, the letter states: “Sears is entitled to recover up to $100,000 in statutory damages per violation.” The boys could also be forced to hand over their comparatively paltry profits.
“With business costs and all that, we probably got about $300 with gas and stuff,” explained Andrew.
“I understand they need to protect their trademarks, but really? They’re only 13-year-old boys working in their neighborhood,” said Clarissa.
After CBS13 contacted Sears, they sent us the following statement:
“Sears sent a cease and desist letter to the website’s owners in the ordinary course of enforcing our intellectual property rights. It is necessary for Sears to take such actions in order to protect its intellectual property rights in some of the world’s most famous brands, such as CRAFTSMAN®, KENMORE®, DIEHARD® and WEEDWACKER®. When Sears sent the letter and made the request, it did not know the age of the site’s owners. Sears plans to reach out to the two young men and their families in an effort to amicably resolve this matter.” – Kimberly Freely, Spokesperson Sears Holdings Corporation
James and Andrew say they want to follow the rules. So they say, lesson learned and they’ll take down the website.
After gathering suggestions for a new business name including ‘Invasive Species Annihilators’, the twins have settled on ‘The Weed Assassins’. They are pretty sure that name won’t violate any copyright laws.