Posts tagged as:

nastygrams

Joe Patrice, Above the Law:

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.

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January 3 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 3, 2014

  • 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]

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IsTumblrDown.com

by Walter Olson on September 4, 2013

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.

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In a menacing letter that included the draft of a complaint, well-known entertainment lawyer Martin Singer informed his target that “I have deliberately left blank spaces in portions of the complaint dealing with your using company resources to arrange sexual liaisons with older men such as ‘Uncle Jerry,’ Judge ——, a/k/a ‘Dad’ (see enclosed photo), and many others. When the complaint is filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court, there will be no blanks in the pleading.” Now California appeals court judge Steven Suzukawa has ruled that the threatened disclosure was appropriately related to the financial dispute at issue and did not constitute extortion as a matter of law. [Hollywood Reporter, earlier]

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Texas: “I’d never trust a dentist who reacts to negative online reviews by having his lawyer threaten the reviewer with criminal charges. Would you?” Complete with a vigorously worded letter, explaining why his client is not planning to take down the review, from attorney Leif Olson of the admirably named Olson Firm in Humble, Texas. [Ken at Popehat]

The Underbelly restaurant in Houston offered a “Double Double” burger. When chef Chris Shepherd got a letter from lawyers for the California-based In-N-Out chain, saying it infringed on their similarly named sandwich, he promptly changed the name to “Cease and Desist Burger.” It has sold well, says the restaurant’s marketing manager. [Erica Ho, Time]

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The township of West Orange, N.J. sends a cease and desist letter to a local political activist who runs the domain westorange.info and gets the following response from attorney Stephen Kaplitt (via Above the Law):

Dear Mr. Trenk:

I am pro bono counsel to Jake Freivald and write in response to your “cease and desist letter,” dated May 13, 2013, regarding his domain westorange.info. Obviously it was sent in jest, and the world can certainly use more legal satire. Bravo, Mr. Trenk! ….

Oh, and just to play along, had you intended for your letter to be taken seriously, even in some small measure, we would have sent in response something along the following lines: …

[several legal points follow about municipalities' general lack of a right to exclude others from using their names as part of domains]

If you manage to produce supporting authority that even remotely passes the laugh test, I will donate $100 in your honor to the American Civil Liberties Union — N.J. chapter. I plan to make the donation online, assuming the state of New Jersey has not shut down aclu-nj.org.

Sent to Gawker by a lawyer who represents controversial Toronto mayor Rob Ford, it affords Ken at Popehat much delight: “First, nobody ever governed themselves accordingly based on a threat from a hotmail account.”

Ethics roundup

by Walter Olson on May 22, 2013

  • “Robo-litigation”: ethical issues of the mass-foreclosure mess [Dustin Zachs, SSRN, via Legal Ethics Forum]
  • Roger Parloff on Chevron counterclaims against Patton Boggs [Fortune] “Judge Grudgingly Lets Donziger’s Lawyers Out Of Chevron Case” [Daniel Fisher; Reuters]
  • Should Australia dilute or abolish the “cab rank” rule? [John Flood via LEF]
  • “Ethical Limits on Civil Litigation Advocacy: A Historical Perspective” [Carol Andrews (Alabama), SSRN; Legal Ethics Forum]
  • “When Is a Demand Letter (Arguably) Extortion?” [John Steele, more, ABA Journal (Martin Singer demand letter threatening to expose target's sexual indiscretions]
  • Fifth Circuit denies Dickie Scruggs’s latest appeal [YallPolitics]
  • When crowdfunding meets litigation finance, watch out world [Richard Painter]
  • “Judge Orders Prenda Law Group Beamed Out Into Space” [Lowering the Bar, TechDirt]

Ken at Popehat to the rescue, with a pledge to “do everything in my power to find pro bono representation for the Buckleys to (1) prevent you from extorting and retaliating against them through the cost of defense, and (2) empower them to cockroach-stomp you righteously.”

How to be gentlemanly in a cease-and-desist. [Mashable, Popehat]

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Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on June 21, 2012

  • Courtesy Stanley Fish, Prof. Jeremy Waldron gets a long, favorable hearing in the New York Times for his let’s-suppress-hate-speech proposals [Opinionator]
  • On the other hand, free speech scores huge victory in Canada as parliament mostly along party lines votes to repeal notorious Section 13 of Canadian Human Rights Act, authorizing private federal complaints over alleged hate speech [Jonathan Kay]
  • “Christian Nation” historical writer and Texas curriculum reshaper David Barton sues critics; don’t let him find out what Ed Brayton keeps writing [Reason]
  • Pennsylvania bill: “Crime for Minor to Post or Send Messages That ‘Emotional[ly] Distress’ Another Minor?” [Volokh]
  • Norfolk, Va. business puts up a big sign protesting eminent domain scheme to seize its property; guess what happens next [Marc Scribner, Open Market]
  • Chris Evans nastygram to Lipstick Alley: Has Hollywood already forgotten about the Streisand effect? [Paul Alan Levy, Mike Masnick/TechDirt] Also at Public Citizen, the dispute over a boilermaker union official’s effort to unmask an online critic has now been settled (earlier);
  • Interesting bank case: “Employer SLAPPed for Suing Ex-Employee” [Shaw Valenza]

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And Matthew Inman’s retort to attorney Charles Carreon is already assuming mythical Internet status. [Popehat, BoingBoing and more, Kennerly, Ars Technica, Lowering the Bar]

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From Ken at Popehat, a righteous response to a bumptious cease and desist letter [Regretsy]

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Scam pretend-lawyers pose as real Hollywood lawyers firing off nastygrams to shake cash out of illicit downloaders. [Above the Law]

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A student organization at Penn Law created a poster for a fashion-law event playing off the well-known design of luggage-and-handbag purveyor Louis Vuitton. Lawyers for the luxury firm fired off a cease-and-desist letter, but the Penn law department declined to comply, a stance that Eugene Volokh finds persuasive: ” I think the use of the marks can’t qualify as dilution, is unlikely to confuse, and is likely to be a fair use in any event.” Another view: Ron Coleman (dilution a possibility).

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Not very peaceful

by Walter Olson on March 5, 2012

North Carolina’s Peace College sends a nastygram to critics [Peter Bonilla, FIRE] More: Popehat.

January 16 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 16, 2012

  • Per Chevron, Kerry Kennedy getting undisclosed percentage of the take, potentially in millions, to side with plaintiffs in Ecuador suit [NY Post] Long New Yorker take-out on case [Patrick Radden Keefe]
  • Freetail Brewing fields a nastygram: “How to Comply With a Cease-and-Desist Letter But Still Win” [Lowering the Bar]
  • I.e. boycotts illegal? Odd Minnesota law bans economic “reprisals” based on “political activity.” [Volokh]
  • “Chris McGrath v. Vaughan Jones: An Unpleasant Peek Into U.K. Libel Law” [Popehat; suit over science-and-theology book review] Related: “You Can’t Read This Book: why libel tourists love London” [Nick Cohen, Guardian, on his new book]
  • Business experience isn’t be-all or end-all for presidential qualifications, but might avert some policy howlers [Kling]
  • “Arbitration Is Here to Stay and One Lawyer Says That Is Good for Consumers” [Alan Kaplinsky interview, Mickey Meese/Forbes, PoL]
  • Off-topic random thought: “Iranian nuclear scientist who moonlights in Broadway Spider-Man cast” must be world’s most uninsurable job description;
  • “D.C. Lawmakers Propose Requiring Students to Apply to College” [Fox]

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