Posted by Permission of Scott Helms
Curator - British Car Week
December 1, 2013
Dear friends and supporters of British Car Week,
Your eye's are not deceiving you, that is a dark rain cloud hovering over the British Car Week logo. There have been some unfortunate things going on with the planning of the British Car Week National Meet that caught me by total surprise a few months ago. I feel the time has come that I should explain what is going on, to help save confusion. There's been a lot of back-room dealings going on without my knowleage, and there is still a lot I don't know, but I will explain the situation the best I can. I'm also hoping those of you who own websites, whether for personal, business, or car club purposes, may learn from this experience.
Please read my story below....
As many of you know, I have been promoting the British car hobby through the British Car Week website (BRITISHCARWEEK DOT ORG) since its creation in 1997. For those of you who may not know, British Car Week is a not-for-profit promotion of all things pertaining to the British car hobby.
When I registered my domain name back in 1997 I chose BRITISHCARWEEK DOT ORG because DOT ORG addresses are intended for not-for-profit purposes. My website has always been totally funded out of my own pocket without profit, and I have intended this to be the case for as long as I am able. British cars have always been a big part of my life, and my objective has been to help the hobby thrive for many years to come. Most of the success of British Car Week has to do with all of the wonderful British car enthusiasts who have supported this once per year "Drive Your British Car" event. I have always been impressed by the enthusiasm and exceptional ethics displayed by the vast majority of British car hobbyists, whether it is through this website, doing business, trading parts, technical support, helping hands, and the list goes on. People helping people. Everything about this hobby has a way of restoring one's faith in mankind.
Several years ago I was contacted through an email message by a man who claimed he wanted to organize a national British car event during British Car Week in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He wanted my assistance with promoting it. In this story I will identify him as Mr. Harrison. I read his email message with a little bit of caution because I receive a lot of solicitations that aren't always on the up and up. After doing some research, I learned that he was the owner of a British car, and this made me feel more comfortable about his request. I decided to trust him, and responded to his email to learn more about his intensions. Once we discussed his plans in more detail, I agreed to help him promote the very first British Car Week National Meet, which would take place during British Car Week in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He knew that my British Car Week website would be an important tool for promoting his event since it receives a lot of Internet traffic.
Shortly after our email handshake was confirmed, Mr. Harrison was fortunate to find a woman named Katherine McMahon who would volunteer her talents to build and maintain a website to promote the show. She would do this free of charge. Like myself, she was also a British car enthusiast who believed in his idea. With my approval, Katherine purchasd the domain name BRITISHCARWEEKNATIONALMEET DOT ORG. Since it did not interfere with my own website name, I agreed to its use. With the use of my website and the new website that Katherine had created, we quickly got the word out to the masses, and the very first British Car Week National Meet became a great success. I enjoyed working with Katherine. She was an honest, straight-shooter, and I knew that if there were any issues to deal with, she was agreeable and would get them taken care of in short order.
The four day event brought British car owners from all over the country to one meeting place. It was also a financial boon for the entire community of Hot Springs and Hot Springs Village. It had attracted a large amount of tourism to the area, filling hotels, restaurants, gift shops, gasoline stations, tourist attractions, and so on. This opened the eyes of the local government who were also looking for ways to attract more tourism to their community.
My wife and I made the long drive to Hot Springs to attend the first event. We were both very pleased to know that British Car Week was responsible for bringing so many British car enthusiasts together for one big celebration. The second National Meet went on as planned, and even though it was hampered by rain, the show was deemed a success. As far as I could tell, everything was running smoothly.
Shortly after the second national meet things apparently began to turn sour. Katherine was ousted, and Mr. Harrison was busy regrouping with new people who would help him take the show to greater heights. The city of Hot Springs Village had expressed an interest in taking over the show knowing how generating more tourism revenue would be a feather in their cap. Katherine was not happy with her treatment during this transition (remember, she had donated her time and money for this) and was not willing to transfer her BRITISHCARWEEKNATIONALMEET DOT ORG address to the new promotors. Unfortunately for Mr. Harrison and his new associates, she owned the BRITISHCARWEEKNATIONALMEET DOT ORG website address, and wasn't going to let them use it.
Now Mr. Harrison and associates were forced to shuffle their playing cards and come up with a new plan. Unfortunately for me (having no knowleage that any of this was going on), they decided to hijack my very own website name (Legal term:cybersquatting). While I was sleeping (so to speak), they proceeded to purchase the domain names, BRITISHCARWEEK DOT COM, BRITISHCARWEEK DOT NET, and who knows what else is in their plans. They currently have websites operating under both the DOT COM and DOT NET addresses using my British Car Week name. They are also using my copyrights and trademarks associated with British Car Week without my consent. I've been told they are also seeking ways to copyright other variants of British Car Week for their own purposes. In other words, they are seemingly taking over my British Car Week identity on the Internet.
I have contacted Mr. Harrison on several occasions and politely requested they stop using my website name and other associated information that I have not agreed for them to use, but there is no cooperation. I have also communicated with a second committee member who acknowleaged his disapproval of what was going on, and indicated it would be corrected, but weeks have gone by without any action.
So what to do? I'll let the enthusiasts be their own judge. If you are a business sponsor or club officer associated with the Hot Springs Village event, or perhaps you've been asked to help promote what they are doing in other ways, you might want to rethink your plans. Think about how would you react if this happened to you? Personally, I don't feel any of us need this kind of behavior within the British car community.
What can you do? By not supporting the Hot Springs Village event in any way, shape or form is good enough for me.
Thanks for all of your support,
Curator - British Car Week
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