Entrepreneurship - Macleans.ca



Creating wealth one lawsuit at a time:

A Winnipeg cardboard factory worker has secured a deal with two reality show entrepreneurs.

Richard Abramowicz was a contestant on the Dragons’ Den show, where inventive sorts seek backing from established entrepreneurs.

Abramowicz tried to interest the panel in a line of fashion clothes he had developed under the brand name Yomama.

He asked for a $3-million investment.

There was interest, but not in the clothes.

Instead, two panellists liked the Yomama brand name, which Abramowicz has trademarked in Canada and the United States.

The name is already in use, but without Abramowicz’s permission.

“I guess it’s the old case scenario of the big guy [versus] little guy,” Abramowicz explained. “The big corporation and the little man that can’t fight them on his own.”

Millionaires Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec said they would pursue trademark infringement lawsuits as partners with Abramowicz.

They offered him just $1 for a one-third share of his company, and a similar share of any compensation that flowed from successful court action.

Abramowicz took it.

He added that if the gambit pays off, he’ll put the money into his clothing line.


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  1. Yomama… Didn’t Harper play with him at the NAC?

    • That was Yomayo, I believe.

      • Yomama? Mepapa!

    • Mymayo is the low fat kind.

  2. It might be a difficult case to win, since yo mama is a part of the language, although I'm not an expert.

    • You're saying one can use yo mama to play Scrabble?

      • Good question. I suppose in scrabble you are meant to have dictionary handy. The phrase is actually two words, and in some dictionaries, both yo and mama are listed. But probably not in all dictionaries. So, I guess the answer is, it depends.

        • I would have thought that every dictionary had yo mama in it.

          • nobody sez my momma's in the dictionary!!

    • Presumably, if the article is correct and the name has already been trademarked in both Canada and the U.S., that might make it easier.

  3. Hey, anyone interested in a class action against AP for that lame link? Not really edifying, unless you are into alternate titles.

  4. Yomama sounds vaguely Japanese.

    • It also reminds me something like "you, mama", as an English countryman would say.
      "Who loves you more than anyone else?"

    • Nice try, but I can't think of any Japanese word that comes close to yomama. On the other hand, "mama yo" can be translated in Japanese as "That's so-so".

      • Interesting! So if you turn it around, yo mama is so-so?

        • What did you just say about my mama?!?!?

  5. So this guy basically traded away 2/3rds of whatever he might have been entitled to so that he wouldn't have to call around to find an IP lawyer that will work on a contingency fee basis?

    No wonder the dragons weren't interested in actually investing with the guy. No money management skills.

    • From the text above, he traded away one third. But he did get a dollar…

      • 1/3 of something is better than 100% of nothing.

        • The moron valued his business at three bucks. On national TV.

          • Or to look at it another way, he has retained expertise with deep pockets who will work on a contingency basis. What's the big deal? He probably wouldn't have been able to pursue legal action otherwise. The deal will be structured so that they are limited to the legal upside, not the business per se. What happens within two minutes onscreen is not the final deal until the i-s have been dotted and the t-s have been crossed.

          • He also gave away a third of his business with that "contingency." He's two-thirds on the hook for whatever profit-eating legal costs his new partners talk him into (it sounds like he will offer a compliant ear), even if his legal action fails. The dragons only lose a dollar if the action fails.

            If Omar Khadr can find a lawyer, Yomama-boy sure could have. Without throwing away a third of his business.

            The dragons were incredibly evil with this dupe. This dupe was criminally stupid with his own sweat equity. What a match.

          • Call in the CRTC. CTV was incredibly evil with this dupe.

            Media map: CTV sells TV stations to Shaw

            Shaw Communications bought three struggling television stations from CTV for $1 apiece in April 2009.


            Shaw Communications bought three struggling television stations from CTV for $1 apiece in April 2009.

          • Interesting. Last I heard there were no takers for the local CTV affiliates even at a buck each. Not sure who was the dupe in that transaction, though. Depending on the level of debt assumed by the new owner, or even considering the money to be lost in the coming years, Shaw may have overpaid.

            But CTV was not evil, here. Nobody had dummy Shaw in a studio with the lights baking him, and a tempting-if-you're-not-thinking-straight offer to take or leave before the next commercial break.

            Yeah, yeah, competent adults freely entering into a contract, etc. The dragons were still taking advantage of a fool. They bought a lottery ticket with far better odds than the real thing, and they can walk away with a third of a business even if they abandon the trademark suit.

          • Last I heard there were no takers for the local CTV affiliates even at a buck each.

            I was hoping you would say that. Proves my point. A deal isn't a deal until the details are worked out and the contract signed. What makes good tv is not necessarily the final outcome. I think I saw a Dragon's follow up show where there was a great deal of negotiating AFTER the initial "deal" before both parties signed.

          • There is. They had an entire episide of follow ups showing how some "deals" done on TV wind up falling through later due to the details.

            This guy can change his mind, if it comes down to it. Though if I was going to engage in a trademark suit, I wouldn't mind having someone with O'Leary's commercial interests in my corner.

          • *ahem*

            Today's National Post:

            Putting A Price On 'Yomama'

            The deal Mr. Abramowicz asked for US$3.33-million for a 30% stake in the company, anticipating litigation would lead to a minimum US$10-million payout. On the show, Kevin O'Leary and Robert Herjavec agreed to a vendor take-back type deal in which they offered $1 and a US$3.3-million note for a 51% stake if they win in court. The deal is in due diligence.

            [Kevin O'Leary:} .."This is not a business. It is intellectual property. All I can say at this point is stay tuned."

            "If what he claims is true, there is a real case here. He probably just doesn't have the capital to pursue it. I'm going to hire my own intellectual property lawyers, have them examine whether the marques are valid in both markets and decide if the case has merit and some probability of success. When I say some probability, [I mean] unless I'm two-thirds likely to be successful.

            "If all those things come true, I'm going to file a complaint and I will have done the right thing for a guy who doesn't have the capital to protect intellectual property. This is a David and Goliath story."


          • Thanks for that info, Dot. If you've got business savvy, can you confirm my interpretation from that: if there's no money to be made, Mr. A gives his dollar back and gets his now-totally-worthless company back?

          • Yep. He is in a no-lose situation. Some feel it is totally worthless, whether now or later.

            A label does not a fortune make – though the "No problem" t shirt makers in Greece c 1988 may differ.

          • Totally agree Dot, the expertise the dragons bring to the table is well worth valuing his business at just three bucks. I imagine the final deal will be well worth the pain of taking the low valuation.

  6. Simple yet very effective. The first time I looked at it I thought it was a poem.