If your business sends a ridiculous trademark demand letter, the best course is to issue a prompt and gracious apology, as IMAX did — though better still would be not to have sent the letter in the first place [Eugene Volokh; Joe Mullin, Ars Technica]
Don’t do it this way, advises Eric Goldman.
Or should that be “method for using nastygrams to assert what isn’t really a valid patent?” [Lowering the Bar]
A House panel approves a bill aimed at patent demand letters that are in bad faith or based on invalid patents [Reuters]
- “Cato Went 10-1 at Supreme Court This Term” [Ilya Shapiro; on merits cases] Yesterday I spoke to a private policy gathering in Annapolis, Md. with a retrospective on the Supreme Court term, especially its lessons for state government. If you’re looking for a speaker on Court issues, I or one of my colleagues at Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies may fit the bill;
- “CrossFit Sues ‘Competitor’ For Revealing Its Injury Rates” [DeadSpin]
- New Jersey court rules for casino in unshuffled baccarat deck case [Elie Mystal/Above the Law, earlier]
- Family rescued from 1000 miles offshore plans to sue over nonworking satellite cell phone [ABC 10 News]
- Tartly worded response to third-party-subpoena demand in Sherrod/Breitbart case [attorney Robert Driscoll]
- Legal academia: Prof. Bainbridge takes on law-and, empirical legal studies crowds [Bainbridge, TaxProf and reactions] George Leef on reforming law schools [Pope Center]
- “Uber Agrees to End Surge Pricing During NY Emergencies, And Why That Means You’ll Never Find a Ride” [Gary Leff; Peter Van Doren, Cato]
- Supreme Court tackling patent law in several cases this term [Sartori and Aga, WLF; Richard Epstein; Kristen Osenga/Prawfs] New fee-shifting regime announced in Octane Fitness already bringing relief to litigants [Ars Technica on Lumen View/FindTheBest case]
- Copyright claims on intrinsically newsworthy material: curious claim concerning suicide note [Eugene Volokh] “Is it copyright infringement to post a lawyer’s cease-and-desist letter?” Australian university seems to think so [same]
- Fate of Prenda Law model spirals downward [Ars Technica, Volokh, EFF]
- Comedian Adam Carolla has “decided to make himself the focus of the Personal Audio suit against podcasters.” [Steven Malanga]
- Why, as a textbook author, Alex Tabarrok has concluded copyright law is out of control [Marginal Revolution]
- Remembering when patent examiners were celebrities (in the 19th Century) [Slate]
- Someone sends Jim Harper a dubious DMCA takedown notice, and this is his response [Cato]
“Tom Goldstein’s letter for rich client who threw porn star off roof for video” [@RandyEBarnett] is an “instant classic” [@adamliptak]. Goldstein is a prominent member of the Supreme Court bar and co-founder of SCOTUSBlog. [Josh Blackman] Concluding passage of letter:
If she sues, the complaint will be sanctionably frivolous. Your client should just box up almost every last bit of her property (please exclude all videos and photographs, as well as the seemingly inevitable small yappy dog) and drop it off with you in safe-keeping for Mr. Bilzerian. After he receives the judgment in his favor, he will have it all delivered to him. Then he will probably blow it up with a mortar in the desert.
I enjoyed our brief correspondence.
But put aside whether Spin Master can win this infringement claim on the merits, consider what they asked for in their demand letter, as explained on You Rather’s blog:
1. Stop using “You Rather” and any other phrases that are similar to “Would you rather”. This includes one (yes, really) or more of the words “Would”, “You”, or “Rather”.
2. Hand over our yourather.com domain immediately
3. Tell them how much money You Rather has made (presumably to ask for that too)
4. Pay for their lawyers
“One or more of the words ‘Would,’ ‘You,’ or ‘Rather.’” Presumably this is meant to prevent You Rather from just rearranging words, but this is a demand letter, not a contract. There’s no need to get cute and ask the website to agree to abandon any use of the word “you.” This is why people hate lawyers.
- Taxpayers on hook: “N.J. boy left blind and brain-damaged after being beaten by father awarded $166M by jury” [Newark Star-Ledger]
- “Psychic Love Spell Center stole my money, lawyer alleges in lawsuit” [Houston; ABA Journal]
- “You can’t win these suits… Move on with your life.” Good advice for someone falsely accused of rape? [Roxanne Jones, CNN]
- Critical look at California judge’s lead paint ruling [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, earlier here, here]
- $6 check and apology over “F-word”: “Pub owner’s sarcastic response to Starbucks cease-and-desist letter goes viral” [ABA Journal]
- Suburb doesn’t want to accept public transit, but feds force its hand by use of controversial disparate impact theory [Dayton Daily News]
- Randy Barnett: libertarianism as a vehicle for moderation, toleration and social peace [Chapman Law Review/SSRN; one of my favorite academic papers from last year]
Users have been known to complain that Tumblr, the immensely popular microblogging site, is not always as communicative as it might be about the periodic outages it has suffered. Zach Inglis put up a site called IsTumblrDown.com which gave users a clue whether an inability to connect was just them, or the whole system being down. There was little likelihood that it would be confused with an official site, especially since it took a bit of a mocking tone toward the platform giant (and had no revenue). Lawyers representing Tumblr nonetheless fired off a nastygram demanding the site’s removal.
The story has a rare happy ending, though. Tumblr sent a second letter saying that the cease and desist letter had been sent by mistake [Daily Dot]:
We deeply apologize for our mistake. Our legal department very recently started using a third party vendor to assist us in pursuing trademark infringers and, due to an error in our new process, your domain was mistakenly caught in the cross-fire.
To paraphrase Eric Turkewitz, when you outsource your trademark enforcement, you might just find yourself outsourcing a chunk of your customer goodwill at the same time.