What is Nikon Polska planning?

5 May
2010 16:39
Arkadiusz Olech

Recently, the owners of Internet domains containing the word “Nikon” started receiving letters from Nikon Polska, asking them to stop using the name of Nikon and change their domain’s name. This fact is even more interesting as also those internet sites which have cooperated smoothly with the Nikon company for several years have got such messages.

During the last several years there have been a lot of complaints about the quality of the Nikon customer service. The problem must have been serious indeed because in autumn 2009 the discontent of the Nikon users reached a peak as the PolishNikonService.com page was created – on this site people who had dealt with the Nikon customer service were able to present their side of the story. Soon, the site has been filled with entries and most of them were full of criticism of the Nikon service. A part of them has been even translated into English and you can read them here.

The first serious reaction we got from the side of the forum administrator of the nikon.org.pl– the biggest Nikon users’ forum in Poland, which has cooperated with Nikon Polska very closely, making use of different forms of support from that company. That site’s administrator asked to remove any of the PolishNikonService.com links. Such a request aroused a lot of bitter controversy and discussions. As it is usually the case, some forum users complied with it and some of them – not.

The matter was hushed up for some time but the number of negative experience stories, concerning the Polish Nikon customer service, has risen steadily. In April 2010 the patience of that company finally wore thin. In the middle of that month the owners of the PolishNikonService.com received a letter from Nikon Polska asking them to stop using the name of the Nikon company in their domain address. The administrators dully complied with that request and they changed the address to : http://zoltyserwisfotograficzny.info/ (which can be translated as YellowPhotoService).

The most surprising event took place at the end of April 2010. The same letter, asking to stop using the Nikon word in their site’s address, was sent to the biggest Nikon users’ forum in Poland, which has been around for several years under the name of “forum.nikon.org.pl”. The Nikon company decided that also this forum has worked against them by using the “nikon.org.pl” domain. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so strange if, so far, that particular forum’s initiatives haven’t been fully backed by Nikon Polska, enjoying their financial, training, presentation and marketing support. They have never been denied gadgets or other materials. That forum has also borrowed the equipment from Nikon Polska and their presentations and workshops have been attended by prominent Nikon photographers and Nikon marketing specialists. All of a sudden the whole cooperation was negated and the forum had to change their name to nikoniarze.pl.

At the beginning of May, Nikon Polska sent to the media their official stand on this matter:

"The Statement of Nikon Polska of 4 May 2010.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Relating to the steps taken by Nikon Polska towards those Internet domains which have been using the Nikon trademark, we would like to explain that they constitute a part of our initiative which aim is to assure the coherent usage of Nikon brand name and its logotype. The steps, taken by us, will concern all domains which have the word “Nikon” in their names, regardless of their profiles and real activities. Such an action will ensure that the Nikon trademark is used in full accordance with the corporate policy and the law concerning the usage of the Nikon registered trademark.

Simultaneously, we would like to assure you that those activities are by no means aimed at the communities of our fans and customers. Every initiative taken by them, has been a precious source of information for us, letting us know what areas of our activity might need changing. We are very pleased that the Nikon catchword has been used by them so often but, on the other hand, we must make sure it always appears in the right contest and is not misunderstood. The policy of the Nikon company concerning the protection of intellectual property rights and the trademark will guarantee the accuracy of announcements signed by the Nikon brand name. We count on understanding of all those people for whom the current situation has become uncomfortable in any way.

Yours faithfully

Magdalena Michalska-Szmidt
Nikon Polska Marketing and PR manager "

On the one hand such a stand might seem quite understandable. The company might not want to see negative opinions about themselves on sites including their name in the domain. On the other hand, though, such tactics seems to be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater – an attempt to put a gag over the mouth of people who often criticize the company’s customer service, often not without a good reason. The Nestle company has learned the hard way how the internet community can react to some of big corporations’ activities .

The measures, taken by Nikon Polska, are so strange because they constitute an exception on a worldwide scale. Virtually every country has its own independent forum or an Internet site with the Nikon name included in its domain address and no local Nikon branch has tried to force them to give it up.

A very firm action of Nikon Polska and lack of similar decisions in the case of other regional Nikon branches suggest that it is not a global company strategy but we deal here with a local attempt to sweep the problem under the carpet. Instead of improving the quality of their customer service by opening additional service centers ( Poland, a country with 40 million inhabitants, has just one Nikon service centre), speeding up the service, improving the relations with customers and developing further a very fruitful cooperation with the forum.nikon.org.pl site, the company decided to choose quite a different way. Will it do them any good? Well, it’s probably a rhetorical question…