Wednesday, November 18, 2015 Files a Trademark Case Against DNA Diagnostics Center for the Marketing of "AncestryByDNA"

I became aware today of a trademark case recently filed by vs. DNA Diagnostics Center.

Although DDC's "AncestryByDNA" test has been around in one form or another for many years prior to the launch of "AncestryDNA" by in 2012, I have seen significant market confusion due to the way AncestrybyDNA has been marketed through sites such as LivingSocial and GroupOn since that time. I wrote about this back in 2012 here.  In fact, I am the "third party" mentioned in the complaint: "On our about July 29, 2012, Ancestry was contacted by a third party who was concerned about consumer confusion resulting from an online 'LivingSocial' advertisement for 'Ancestry DNA.' Confusingly, the LivingSocial ad was entitled 'AncestryDNA' and advertised DDC's services at the website" Since this time the confusion has continued and, as a result, we have seen many people who intended to purchase the AncestryDNA product extremely disappointed upon receiving their AncestrybyDNA results. It is such a shame to see people spending their hard-earned money and receiving a product that is virtually useless for genealogical purposes. In some cases, this was the only opportunity an individual had to test a family member, which as genetic genealogist know is of great importance to our research.  It is also an unfortunate and unnecessary deterrent for those who might otherwise have become more involved in our community since this test may discourage them from any further participation in genealogy/ancestry DNA testing. vs DDC Filing

In the very large genetic genealogy and unknown parentage-focused groups that I administer, we are seeing this brand confusion increasingly often -- almost on a daily basis lately -- and so I am very glad to see this addressed. All of my team spends a significant amount of time trying to clarify the difference between the two tests and save people from the impending disappointment of purchasing a product they believed was something else entirely.

Some people may argue that this is Ancestry using their vast resources to bury a smaller competitor, but DDC is a large, successful paternity testing company and the product in question is only a very small part of their business. I am quite confident that they make plenty of money without the extra income generated by people purchasing a test in error. I am not an intellectual property legal expert (unlike my friend and colleague Blaine Bettinger), so I will refrain from technical analysis of this case. However I will say that after reading the complaint thoroughly and from my own experience observing the marketplace, I believe that is in the right and has a very strong and persuasive case. They addressed all of the misgivings I had about their position in the complaint. While it is true that DDC was using "AncestrybyDNA" before Ancestry started using "AncestryDNA," the market confusion due to their promotional methods is significant and very damaging. (All you have to do is read the comment section of my original blog post on the subject to see the evidence.) I hope this suit will put a stop to that.

One other very interesting thing to me is that states in the filing that ConnectMyDNA, (the other useless "ancestry" DNA test that Judy Russell wrote about here) has also been marketed by DDC, "Previously, DDC apparently advertised its services through LivingSocial under the trademark CONNECTMYDNA and the website" I checked the site registration and sure enough, the site is registered by DDC.

Thank you to for taking action to clear up this confusion. It is my sincerest wish that consumers will no longer be fooled into spending money on these products that do not fulfill the purpose for which they were purchased.