When we started Dragoman Consulting earlier this year, we wanted a name that described us in a nutshell.
What do we do?
We are guides. We are interpreters. We help Canadian companies do business in Latin America.
Stumped, we looked in a thesaurus under “guide.” And what did we find?
The word “dragoman.”
It’s an ancient word, from the Ottoman Empire. Dragomen were guides and interpreters who helped Western businesses enter that (literally) Byzantine system.
What a cool name, we thought. We’re dragomen. Let’s call ourselves that!
A quick google revealed dragoman.com, a tourism service with thirty years in Latin America, and dragomanglobal.com, a consulting firm in Australia.
No worries, we thought. We’re not tourist guides, and we definitely don’t do business in Australia. Let’s do it!
So we did.
Then the email came.
That creepy, insinuating tone that only lawyers without a conscience can manage.
We are Dragoman Global, it read. You must change your name now, or we will sue you into infinity.
At first we laughed. Dragoman Global claims to operate in Latin America, but so far as we can tell, this is not true. We searched the trademark database in Canada. Nope. No legal footing whatsoever. And if they haven’t registered their trademark in Canada, they sure as hell haven’t registered it in twenty-odd different countries in Latin America.
So we told them to go away. What right did they have to tell us what we can call ourselves? We’re not competing with them.
THOU SHALT CHANGE THY NAME IMMEDIATELY, came the reply. OR WE WILL STOMP YOU TO DEATH WITH OUR LEGAL TEAM.
Hmm. We did a google. For the word “dragoman.” We popped up first. They were second.
So that’s why they’re pissed off.
Then we talked to a lawyer.
No legal basis whatsoever, our lawyer said. But they can still bankrupt you by forcing you to defend yourself in court.
So, once again, evil triumphs in the world, and we have changed our name. We are still dragomen, but from now on we are formally known as Go South! Consulting.
And to anyone considering employing Dragoman Global?
If you swim with the sharks, expect to be eaten.
Miryam Lazarte, Founder & CEO, Go South! Consulting