When the first Brazilian in the ’80s started using OUR company name, Astrodeck, Herb contacted him and tried to negotiate a deal to buy back our Astrodeck name that he had registered in Brazil. The guy was very uncooperative and did not want to sell it to us-which was very unethical-but, unfortunately, not illegal. Herb contacted a lawyer here in the states about options and he was advised that he could probably win the case but it could exhaust all company assets. Herb had a young, growing family, limited resources, and so he made the decision to move forward by creating films and products that he was proud of, hoping that he could revisit the Brazilian infringement at a later date.
Time marched on and the business had periods of expansion and contractions, with many people jumping into the traction market that Herb created through his invention of the surfboard tail pad. With many players in the market for the pad (Which, by the way, is the smallest segment of surf-related sales.) being dependent on the purchase of a new board, it was difficult to keep our small family-owned company afloat. There was much money spent with attorneys getting trademark protection in many foreign countries, but most never produced the revenue that made the expense worth while.
We had heard nothing out of Brazil for quite some time until we ran into our friend, the shaper, Pat Rawson, at the tradeshow last year and he said that he wanted us to meet a young Brazilian who had bought “Astrodeck” from the previous Brazilian who had trademarked it. Pat said that the young guy really wanted to make it right and work with us. We were thrilled! After the initial introduction, I started to correspond with him through emails as I was always the one who handled all the international business. It was almost immediately apparent that the only way to work together would be a licensing deal due to the exchange rate, import duties, etc. I called him to discuss going forward and he became extremely reluctant to put together any specifics after he said that he was making many items with the Astrodeck name on them, and I said that I felt he would rightly owe me a royalty on anything with the Astrodeck name. He then said that he would have to talk to his people at Astrodeck. That pissed me off and I tried to politely explain to him that he WAS talking to Astrodeck. That’s when he decided to hang up, and that’s the last any of us have heard from him.
That is, until he popped up on Facebook with an Astrodeck profile and account. He is now also in the process of launching a website known as Astrodeck.com.br., where he has even stolen my Astrodeck logo and insignia that was personally created by Shawn Stussy for Herbie.
My attorney said yesterday that I have a very good case. But it could cost me north of $80,000.00. And at this point, with a still-small family-owned business (practically one of the only ones still surviving in this surf industry), that kind of money could completely destroy what we’ve spent our whole lives trying to achieve.
What he’s done may be lawful…but it’s immoral, unethical, and fuckin’ stinks!!!