In the past month, at least two online resources have come under fire from the APA for their use of the word “psych” in reference to their online offerings. One was my colleague’s Web site, NetPsych, produced by Leonard Holmes, Ph.D. He was recently forced to change his name from NetPsych to NetPsychology because the APA lawyers wrote him a letter, threatening litigation if he didn’t. Their problem? NetPsych may be confused with PsychNET(tm), APA’s name for their Web presence. Dr. Holmes chose this name originally because it seemed simple enough to him (and most of his readers) — the site was devoted to topics about Net psychology. NetPsych was just an abbreviated, catchier term. But apparently APA saw much more happening there (innovation, perhaps?) and quickly dispatched its top-notch legal team to APA’s rescue!
When asked about the whole debacle, Dr. Holmes said, “I was stunned to discover that the APA believes that it owns the rights to use the word ‘psych,’ and that it will spend my money to prevent me from using it.” He even went so far as to discuss the matter with a trademark attorney and found, “that I could have fought them on several grounds. I decided not to because of their deep pockets which are lined with my dues and the dues of other psychologists.”
The other site was one I developed to offer continuing education courses online to mental health professionals and psychologists, called audioPsych(tm). In our case, it’s not that they objected to the name, but rather the way the name looked! The old audioPsych(tm) logo is on the left, the new one is below. See the big difference? APA was afraid people might confuse the service with their line of PsycINFO(tm) products (mainly, I suspect, because of the capitalization). Oh yeah, that’s likely to happen…
Why an organization needs a name for their Web site, separate from their organization’s name, is beyond me to begin with… The American Psychiatric Association’s is simply the American Psychiatric Association’s Web site. So is the NIMH’s, the AMA’s and nearly every other large organization in medical or behavioral healthcare services. Even Psych Central reflects the nonprofit corporation of the same name.