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Important Update: Dilbert is gone!

blogging - 57 comments

I had to change the site name from “Pointy Haired Dilbert” to “Chandoo.org”. While the change is triggered due to an email from Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert Strip, I have been mulling the change for a while and I think this is the right time for it.

I had a strange email in my inbox when I woke up on May 3rd. The subject said “From Scott Adams”. I was half-asleep at that time. So I thought this must be an email from one of the readers or customers. I opened it and read half way thru the mail before realizing that it was from Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert Cartoon Strip. I shook my head in disbelief and re-read the email a couple of times before I understood the message. Scott said,

Hi Chandoo,

I’ve been following your success for some time via my Google Alerts (it
sends me all Internet references to Dilbert). When you were small I was
ignoring your use of Dilbert and “pointy-haired” in your name, but now I
think we have to have this discussion.

Obviously there’s a trademark issue with any commercial use of the name
Dilbert, as it is an obvious trade on the goodwill I created in the
trademark. And even the pointy-haired part seems a bit unfair.

I have to have this sort of conversation to prevent “dilbert” from slipping
into the public domain. I’m sure you understand.

So with that in mind, can you suggest a solution? I like what you’re doing,
and wouldn’t want to impede your momentum, but a name change is due.

Scott Adams

Of course Scott is being very fair and sweet. I never really thought my site would become even mildly popular. But as the site grew I had an inkling of suspicion that something like this would happen. But I brushed aside my feelings under the header of “that is just insane”.

At the moment I didnt know what to do. I couldn’t afford Dogbert, the evil consultant to advice me a name like “Duhflushtech inc.”


My immediate ideas for a new name for this blog were equally lame like,

Then it stuck me like a stroke of sumproduct. Why not just call the site by what it already is – Chandoo.org.

After a few minutes, it made a lot of sense,

  • The site url is Chandoo.org
  • People already see that in Google Search, Other blogs linking etc.
  • My nick name is Chandoo, so loads of people already call me that.
  • There would be very little confusion for a new visitor as they dont see the unrelated “pointy haired dilbert” on the site when they come looking for moving average calculations.
  • It would help me build brand Chandoo instead of borrowing it from Dilbert.

Then I emailed back Scott this,

Hi Scott,

Thanks for your email. I am both thrilled and little worried to get this email.

But I totally understand your intentions and support you. My idea is not to step on Dilbert’s domain, but just a play with words. I have a solution for this:

* I will replace the “pointy haired dilbert” in my webpage titles, logo and future posts and just call it “chandoo.org”.
* I will have to keep the wording “PHD”, “pointy haired dilbert” in already written articles as it is too cumbersome (there are over 1000 posts). But this should not be a problem as the words are inside the posts and not part of title, page headers. (removal of Pointy haired dilbert from titles is automatic).
* I will make an announcement explaining why the change is happening and have a sidebar link “where did the dilbert go?” for a few weeks just so that people who visit once in a while don’t feel lost.


So, What are the changes and how they affect you?

Chandoo.org - Learn Excel and Charting Online - Blog

  • The blog, forums and formula pages have new logos. The look and feel of the site hasnt changed. Just the logos. Check them out to get familiarized with what is new.
  • The wording “Pointy Haired Dilbert” has been removed from most places on the site. But there will be some references to it in past articles and content.
  • Try calling me Chandoo when you comment or refer to me. You can of course call me PHD or pointy haired dilbert or even bumbling bumble bee as it is your choice. But I would prefer Chandoo.

What has not changed and will not change:

What do you think of the changes?

I have been attached to the PHD so much. It is hard to let that go. I am sure I will make mistakes and refer to my blog as PHD when writing emails or replying to comments.

But I also see a lot of positives in letting the PHD go. It will let me build brand Chandoo and keeps my site simple and clean.

PS: I named the site PHD because I was both an engineer and an MBA. I was transitioning from Engineer to manager when I started this blog.

PPS: You have a rocking weekend. I have more exciting and awesome excel stuff for next week, as usual.


Hello Awesome...

My name is Chandoo. Thanks for dropping by. My mission is to make you awesome in Excel & your work. I live in Wellington, New Zealand. When I am not F9ing my formulas, I cycle, cook or play lego with my kids. Know more about me.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Visit Excel for Beginner or Advanced Excel pages to learn more or join my online video class to master Excel.

Thank you and see you around.

Related articles:

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Home: Chandoo.org Main Page
? Doubt: Ask an Excel Question

57 Responses to “Important Update: Dilbert is gone!”

  1. Charon says:

    Good for you. What you do is excellent content. Form your own brand. Don't ride on the back of someone else's brand.

  2. Subhash says:

    Wow! Scott Adams is your email buddy now 😉

    I think the timing for the name change is apt. Wishing you the very best in building your brand.


  3. Serhat says:

    I don't think Scott Adams would be in the know had he didn't set google alerts. This is something we would never mind. It is good to see he worries about his trademark as soon as PHD grows.

  4. Hui says:

    Shame on you Scott Adams
    Shame on you...

  5. ross says:

    Nice to see to sensible people, coming to a sensible out come, well done both!

  6. Good change!!!! and very nicely handled!!!! (Pat on the back)

    This is a lovely place to learn and that does not change, irrespective of what the name is!

  7. Tom says:

    Is the trademark "Chandoo" and "Pointy Haired" for sale? Maybe sell it to Scott ...
    These trademarks, patents and stuff grrrr....
    Maybe Scott should pay you for keeping Dilbert alive and kicking in the Excel community... so Scott can keep selling overpriced drawings and cartoons....

  8. oldchippy says:

    Hi Chandoo,

    New venture, new name. I don't mind what you call your website, I'll keep following wherever. This is a great website, just keep posting - all the best

  9. Jon Peltier says:

    Chandoo -

    I was wondering how long you could keep up the disguise. I'm glad the transition will be smooth and painless. What you call it doesn't make much difference given the quality of the site.

    I am impressed but not surprised by the class Scott Adams showed in his communication with you.

  10. Jon Peltier says:

    Hui -

    What do you mean, "shame on Scott"? Chandoo admits to having used Scott's intellectual property without permission. Scott's personable approach shows a refreshing departure from the typical corporate response to, well, pretty much everything.

  11. Gopal says:

    Just a small observation... your "Meet Chandoo" section is still calling the blog as Pointy Haired Dilbert..
    At the end, what's in the name... it comes through success anyway! All the best for Chandoo.org

  12. Clarity says:

    To be honest whenever I recommend your site to people I always refer to the url of chandoo.org rather than PHD.

    I echo some of the comments above: Well handled by both Scott and you and its the quality of your content and the community that yuo have brought together that really matters.

    It all fits quite well: New chapter in your working life, new(ish) site name... new haricut? ;0)

  13. greg says:

    Yes indeed respect Scott's property. It is the adult thing to do. And your release of the pointy haired dilbert name and the switch to your own Chandoo.org is more likely to bring much karma-phala.

  14. Iesmatauw says:

    I read both Scott's Dilbert and Chandoo's PHD.
    Both are geniuses on their own field.

    Great email from Scott and great answer from Chandoo.
    Good luck for both.

  15. dan l says:

    Yes.....yes. Good on you, Chandoo for handling this with such grace. I mean, the Dilbert brand is so pristine, if you trade on "dilbert", how else is he going to whore out the name to sell a mediocre file sharing service or used to sell a a lousy burrito.

    I'm not being critical of Chandoo here, I get it. But let's be honest:

    ANYBODY who starts an email with:

    "When you were small I was
    ignoring your use of Dilbert and “pointy-haired” in your name, but now I
    think we have to have this discussion."

    is a condescending twit.

  16. Chandoo is a great name and will server you well. Kudos to Adams for the classiest cease and desist letter ever written.

  17. JP says:


    You should be honored -- your site is big enough to be noticed. Scott said "when you were small ... but now ... "

    I think you'll do fine. Don't forget to update the e-books and templates! Also in your right sidebar "About" section it still says "PHD".

    I'd still take issue with something Scott said. "I have to have this sort of conversation to prevent “dilbert” from slipping into the public domain." That doesn't sound correct to me.

  18. Hui... says:

    I don't disagree with the letter from Scott and response being in the right spirit of how things should be resolved.

    What I disagree with is that Scott would actually think that that he is missing out on anything or being put down by Chandoo using the PHD name. Would anybody not read his comics or not visit his site by the use that Chandoo has made of PHD.

    Pointy Head has been around since 1968 as a Noun for describing intellectual people.
    Dilbert the cartoon didn't start until 1989.

    Similarities between the Dilbert character and Chandoo or the spirit of the web site - Nil.
    A clever play on characters and names maybe.
    Effect on Scott's business, If anything I would suggest that maybe the PHD name would have reminded people to go an visit Scotts web site.
    Competitive nature between the 2 businesses - Nil.

    Apart from the nice way Chandoo handled this I can't agree with Scotts original motivation or right to defend the use of the words.

  19. dan l says:

    I'm with Hui. Chandoo is right for handling this the way he did. This comic dude is wrong for bringing it up in the first place.

    But then again, of how much relevance could a guy who blogs about putting sea life in a man's rectum really be?

  20. Rob Shell says:

    So sorry to hear about the name change. I'm impressed with the way both sides handled the matter. I wish you continued success Pointy Haire..., uh, Chandoo. Cheers.

  21. Gerald Higgins says:

    I'm also a big fan of both Chandoo and Scott Adams.
    Number of points.
    1) I always assumed that PHD stood for Pointy HAIRED Dilbert, not Pointy Head Dilbert.
    So I think Hui's pointy heads comment doesn't really apply.
    When I think of Pointy Hair, I think of the PHB, Pointy Haired Boss, in Dilbert, and I also think, of course, of Chandoo.
    Dare I say it, I guess Chandoo IS a pointy head as well, in the sense of being an intellectual, but the PHB definitely is NOT.
    2) I also refer to this site as Chandoo, when I'm referring other people to it.
    3) Let's not forget, Scott could have handled this MUCH more unpleasantly - for example by sending his lawyers in straight away. Regardless of the merits of his case, I'm sure Scott has enough money to hire very expensive lawyers to intimidate people like Chandoo. He's chosen not to.
    4) Is there an overlap between Chandoo's website and the real Dilbert ? Of course not, but there could be an argument that if Scott DOESN'T take this kind of action, he's almost inviting anyone else to engage in activity which IS harmful to his copyright.

  22. ChrisL says:

    Scott's a gracious dude. Just keep up the good work! After all, "what's in a name?" - the content is the thing 🙂

  23. Olu D. says:

    The name "Point Haired Dilbert" was what initially attracted me to the site along with the content, specifically the "Pointy Haired" part ... you know ... a lighthearted way of understanding complex excel functions ...didn't really occur to me that anyone would get worried about that ... ah well, I guess the big plus is that of avoiding any unnecessary legal hassles ... Chandoo sounds perfect to me though...

  24. Chandoo says:

    @All.. I am very glad most of you liked the change. Few comments in general,

    * Even though Scott's email triggered the change, I have been thinking about getting rid of dilbert for a while and the timing couldnt be better.
    * I respect Scott and he has been my favorite author for last 7 years.
    * While I respect the fact that you can think whatever you want about Scott, pls. refrain from bad mouthing him. He has been very polite and extremely generous to not raise this issue all these years.
    * I do not want to capitalize on the Dilbert brand name, nor I did want that ever. It was a play of words as the title fit perfectly well with my intentions for the blog when I started using it (to write my experiences as an engineer in a b-school). When the blog grew and the focus shifted, I show how retained dilbert (without thinking too much). It is not fair on my part to use a trade marked name in my title when I have no affiliation with Dilbert or Scott.

    @Gopal.. fixed the sidebar issue. Thanks 🙂

    @JP: Sure, the ebook shall be upgraded by end of May. So I will include new logo then. Templates are already devoid of any logos. So they should be good to go.

    @Clarity... My son has taken a liking to my hair and has been violently pulling it whenever he is in my lap. So I guess my new hair do will be pretty much bald.

  25. Richard E says:

    While I'm not convinced that the name "Dilbert" is sufficiently unique to justify legal protection, I think the whole thing was well handled.

    Having said that, I actually prefer your new name. The old name seemed to have no connection with anything in your world, while the new name does.

    Having it now match your URL is a Plus - Plus situation, I think.

    Keep up the Great work!!

  26. Shorusan says:

    Love Chandoo! Let go of PHD. Btw, when I saw your hair-trademark it didn’t look anything pointy… but THAT hair was catchy.

  27. chrisham says:

    Chandoo - A good decision! I never knew your site as anything else.
    And BTW, Scott Adams was gracious in his letter and perfectly within his right to make this request.

  28. Chandoo, are you going to change the URL for your RSS feed too?

  29. Nimesh says:

    Bravo Chandoo
    I'm sure this change wont affect the blog

    It's time to grow big and a more relevant brand name is always welcomed

  30. Stvhay says:

    Well handled on all parts. It's your content that keeps us coming back. Keep up the good work!

  31. Sully says:


    I agree with you that the timing is perfect.

    I remember when I first saw your blog in Google search. It was the "Dilbert and PHD" reference that brought me to your site.

    Combine the name change with your initiative to go full time with this project this the right thing to do.

    You have effectively branded yourself and your business under one name all will recognize. Compare your growth with Coke, Pepsi, Nike, Bose, (pick any single name company)... and now Chandoo 🙂

    Continue to do great things!

    All the best!

    Vr/ Sully

  32. jeff weir says:

    While Chandoo is a fine brand, you've really squandered the chance to be a little smutty...

    One zillion i-donuts coming your way if you adopt "Did somebody just chart" as suggested by Alex J over at http://peltiertech.com/WordPress/dr-chart-please-stand-up/#ixzz0nHk9p2f6 a while back.

    And I'll gift you the IP so you can use my little ditty:

    Did somebody just chart?
    Who charted? Who charted?
    I think my underpants are data’d

  33. dan l says:

    Sorry Chandoo.

    FWIW, you must be aware that many of your readers are......well.....'computer people'. And many of us feel strongly about this sort of thing.

    If you have his email, find out where I can get more of those burritos though:)

  34. Chandoo says:

    @John Walkenbach: FeedBurner warns me that if I change the URL, I have to tell all the 9500 people about it. That is probably insane. I will keep the feed url to http://feeds2.feedburner.com/PointyHairedDilbert and create a vanity url at my site that would read something like http://chandoo.org/wp/fullfeeds/ and internally redirect to http://feeds2.feedburner.com/PointyHairedDilbert

    @Jeff: Did some one just chart would limit the scope of blog to charting alone... ?!?

    @Dan l: Dont be sorry. My intention is not to make you feel sorry. It is just that belittling Scott is probably not going to help us anyway. He has been kind enough to email me not once but twice (yes, he replied to my reply) and shown grace all along.

  35. lavkesh bhatia says:

    Common thread running through Dilbert and PHD is content & audience connect. As long as it remains you will add fans.

    I guess if there were an EXCEL solar system , planet Chandoo would be Jupiter and Dilbert like Pluto (although it would just be the reverse outside !)

    So its a good thing which has happened. Its now brand Chandoo all the way

  36. lavkesh bhatia says:

    Common thread running through Dilbert and PHD is content & audience connect. As long as it remains you will add fans.

    I guess if there were an EXCEL solar system , planet Chandoo would be Jupiter and Dilbert like Pluto (although it would just be the reverse outside !)

    So its a good thing which has happened. Its now brand Chandoo all the way !

  37. Lou says:

    This is a positive resolution. It was not picky or trivial on the part of Scott. He created the brand and has worked to build up its' worth (his baby). And from what we see and know, he is acting in a cordially direct way, not threatening or ham-handed.

    Chandoo is building up his blog and site with 'his' talents, ambition, creativity and initiative. And he has done a jolly good job of it. He clearly appreciates others' work and creative efforts and contributions, and the way he is responding speaks volumes about his standards and ethics. His sharing contributions, the great tips and solutions he provides and offers, the platform he's put together for others to benefit from, and his unstinting praise of everyone who contributes to his site will assure continuing success and growth for him, and not the PHD name or use. And of course, his rocking good humor is just the cherry on the cream.

    Kudos to both Scott and Chandoo for their well done 'meeting of the mind' outcome.

    Chandoo, you will succeed with whatever label or name you use. Simply keep up the good work. I'm a fan of the artist, not the marquee.

    Rock On !!


  38. dan l says:

    And from what we see and know, he is acting in a cordially direct way, not threatening or ham-handed.

    Yeah. The first email was totally devoid of thinly veiled threats. What?

    "When you were a small up and comer, I ignored you. But now you're big so you and I - we need to have a discussion"


  39. Ninad says:

    I feel this was handled very maturely by both Scott and Chandoo. And surely the right time for buliding the "Chandoo" brand.

    I hope Scott is also following "this" post to see the avalanche effect.

    With the content you post, any name will be secondary. Keep it going.

  40. Pedro Wave says:

    The best of both worlds is the ability to share with all of us as the Dilbert's Cartoon Strips as the excellent Chandoo's Woorksheets.

    Another dilemma to consider is the relation between Chandoo.org and the opium processing, because both of them cause addition to his followers, especially in India:

    Dilbert and Chandoo, I'm small and it's the reason that should be ignored me by now while I'm copying your work into my blog, in order to be funny and to learn a bit more each day.

    Thank you very much to both.
    Pedro Wave

  41. dan l says:

    As the leader of the largest opium cartel, I believe this 'chandoo' violates my trademark. I think it's time you and I have a little conversation.

  42. Sridhar says:

    You gotta rename the RSS feed as well?

  43. Chandoo says:

    @Pedro... no wonder I always feel a little high when someone calls me chandoo.

    @Dan... Yeah, give me an offer that I cant refuse and I shall call .org

    @Sridhar.. no, RSS Feed url remain what it already is. Changing that is painful.

  44. Denis says:

    Great move, Chandoo!

    I mean I still love the PHD way more than Chandoo.org, but with Scott coming at you makes this case obviously different from Excel@Work, which I was deeply concerned with 🙂

    I have a few suggestions, though (sorry if they were addressed earlier, too busy to read all comments):

    1. Make sure "Chandoo" trademark does not belong to someone, cause that would be a bummer. Beware, that someone may sit around at "Google Alerts" and wait for you to grow big enough and then smack you with a 7-digit trademark infringement.

    2. Kill the "/wp" part in the logo. Technically it is correct, but when people will refer to your website, they will omit it anyway. Besides the red-black color play is a bit, no offense, "out of touch".

    3. Write "Learn Excel & Charting Online" in small-caps, it will look better and more professional (I should say it feels a bit strange though: isn't the charting part of Excel? if it is then why other parts are not mentioned? or do I have to learn charting twice?) Maybe just re-write it as a sort of motto "Let us help you learn" or "Make your data and charts shine", or whatever.

    4. Make sure that the baseline of the "motto" is in line with the bottom of the picture, so everything fits into nice rectangle.

    5. Red gradient on Chandoo.org looks really good, but the thickness difference is a bit unnecessary.

    Great work with posts, as usually!

  45. Chandoo says:

    @Denis... Very good suggestions.

    (1) I am not sure if someone can trademark a name. Plus, to be clear enough, it is not chandoo, but chandoo.org, same as the url.

    (2) After a few days the /wp part looks a bit "confusing". I have similar thoughts and would probably knock off the /* parts

    (3 & 4) Sure.. Small caps and base line alignment should be done. For baseline, I am thinking of opening a small contest and selecting one from reader submits. Should go live when the blog hits 10k subs

    Thanks for your valuable input and support.

  46. Jon Peltier says:

    Chandoo -

    I believe a name can be trademarked, but only for a narrow application. Search trademarkia.com under the name "Johnson", for example, and you'll see hundreds of companies which have trademarked "Johnson".

    If someone has already trademarked Chandoo brand potato chips, your use of Chandoo.org for a web business centered around this blog would not be considered infringement.

  47. dan l says:

    Not to mention, Chandoo uses several design and style elements as Jon Peltier's blog - such as the color white.

    This is clearly a violation of tradmark.

  48. Pankaj Verma says:

    LOL @ Dan I

    That was a good and sarcastically correct point. Wonder how Jon will react to "Such infringement of copyright / trademark/ Patent / Intelectual Property" by whatever name called.

  49. Chandoo says:

    @Jon.. Chandoo potato chips sounds like a good product extension. I can call them as "we make potatoes awesome".

    @dan l: I am sure Steve Jobs already on to trademark color white...If that happens I will change the background color of blog to gray a la excel 2003 chart backgrounds.

  50. Yoav says:

    Dude, you got an email from Scott Adams. You are like a ... celebrity. Now that I think about it, this is the first celebrity blog I am reading.

    Good luck with the new name. And with all due respect to the Dilbert brand, I don't think the change will have an adverse effect at all.

  51. Jon Peltier says:

    Chandoo -
    According to dan l you can't use the gray Excel chart background, because it would infringe on Microsoft's trademark (I think he meant copyright).
    Hui -
    "Pointy-head" is a rare (I've never seen it) derogatory term for intellectual. "Pointy-Haired" is a derogatory term for clueless. Similar but not identical. "Pointy-Haired Boss" was originated by Adams.
    dan l -
    Why is Adams wrong for bringing up the trademark infringement? It is his trademark, and he has the right to control how it is used. If he wants to use it in his outside marketing efforts, and not allow others to use it, that is his prerogative. Adams' approach, the friendly email, is much better than the usual attack by a team of corporate lawyers. I'm sure the "when you were small" comment relates to the dozens or hundreds of small nobodies who have pirated the Dilbert trademarks and copyrights. If too many of these keep using "Dilbert", then when someone introduce their new line of Dilbert Marital Aids or Pointy-Haired Hygiene Products, Adams will be unable to prevent the association of his trademarks with these products.

  52. Pankaj Verma says:

    I guess both, Scott and Chandoo, handled this matter rather beautifully and with the kind of grace that is expected from professionals. Hats off, guys.

    But on a lighter side - I suggest another change - how about rechristening Scott Adam as "Scold" Adam.....??? :))


  53. [...] | Leave a Comment Tags: chandoo, dilbert, trademark Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame), asked Chandoo to get rid of all Dilbert trademarks in his “Pointy Haired Dilbert” [...]

  54. Andrew says:

    For a few of the people posting not seeing how polite/gracious Scott is being, re-read;

    "...I have to have this sort of conversation to prevent “dilbert” from slipping
    into the public domain."

    The "slipping into public domain" risk is if you ask your Intellectual Property Attorney-friends, language used to describe the obligation of an IP-holder(Scott) that he has taken steps to put the figurative "fence around his yard" if you will... or risk loss of that yard's right to the squatters. See "Open and notorious use of the property" AND "Exclusive use of the property" requirements below.

    Bottom line, if Scott doesn't speak up, he himself risks loosing his hard earned brand.

    Requirements for...
    * Actual possession of the property
    * Open and notorious use of the property
    * Exclusive use of the property
    * Hostile or adverse use of the property
    * Continuous use of the property

  55. Jon Peltier says:

    Andrew -
    Good points. I am generally amazed at how uninformed people can be regarding intellectual property. These comments are typical:
    "I'm not making any money from using this content, so it's okay."
    "They should thank me for free advertising."
    But it's the right of the copyright holder to control how copies of their works are made regardless of the intentions of the person making copies (save for circumstances clearly laid out in "fair use" regulations). It's also up to the copyright holder to decide whether and how to advertise their content.
    I've also seen people unaware of the rights of creators. People have stated in online discussions such as this one that since Microsoft wrote VBA, then anything written in VBA belongs to Microsoft. It seems ludicrous, but this statement has been made many times. (A long discussion, probably still ongoing, can be found on the VBA Express forum.) It's akin to giving Microsoft copyright to your Great American Novel because you wrote it using Word. Or to Bic and Hammermill because you wrote it using their pens and paper.
    Yet it's too much trouble to look up the information, so people just say what's on their minds.

  56. Ten Xio!lentino says:

    I liked it when Scott Adams said "when you were small...". You've gotten big now and will only get bigger. Thank you for your fun and extremely helpful website and newsfeed!

  57. PaNK says:

    Gr8 work Chandoo aka PHD aka B cube!!

    I always look upto ur website for any excel related issues that i am stuck with. I guess there are always 2 ways of handling things, one is positive and other 1 is negative. U took the +tive approach and rather prevented yourself getting into the hassles/pains of getting into an argument. Like your approach and attitude due, which is y i read almost 60% of the replies and then thot to drop a note of appreciation !! Keep up the gud work man - Cheers!!

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