I guess it had to happen sooner or later
I just had an email from one Sue Cremer, Personal Assistant at Piper Alderman which promotes itself as the "Best Professional Services Firm in South Australia 2007"
They claim that this posting last year Endangered Species - Australian Yellow Pages infringes their client's trademark by my "use" of their trademark and that the posting might mislead poor widdle you to believe that I have an association with their client, Yellow pages or Sensis.
Now it beats me how I am "using" their trademark beyond "quoting" it in a series of screen shots to demonstrate that their search tools are really not up to snuff. I am certainly not pretending to be a business directory or to provide phone numbers and other details to anyone who uses my site, and if I HAD a business relationship or "association" with the companies I would expect that it would damned quickly have been severed for publicly giving them a zinger.
But I'm always interested in learning something new so here's the challenge; what's their problem?
Oh, and at the end of their pdf attachment they invite me to signal my co-operation by writing the same on the letter and faxing them a copy back. Right, like I'll sign up to fix an unspecified example of an unspecified infringement to satisfy a company that already has more money than god and spends too little of it on putting together a decent web strategy.
Or could it be that they just don't like being criticised and are trying to use an irrelevant piece of law to shut me up? Nah, that would be unprincipled and stupid, I might blog about it, couldn't happen.
This is what they got back.
Please explain in what way I am infringing the use of the trademark. I am not conducting any business as a telephone book, telephone directory, business directory or any other kind of telephone number search tools, nor am I attempting to pass myself off as the "yellow pages" I do not offer search of the yellow pages or anything like it, nor do I attempt to sell advertising, listing or any other kind of service as yellow pages or anything of that kind.
The page to which you refer is a criticism of the efficacy and adequacy of the Yellow Pages search tools on the date specified and in doing so demonstrates the efficacy by quoting (via screen shot) the points that I wish to make. No reasonable person could possibly mistake my blog for the Yellow Pages and even if they did, could not possibly find any such service there.
Under fair use provisions I am entitled to "quote" from a source and identify that source correctly so that there is no doubt about the point, intention or organisation to which I refer. I do that, and no more.
Furthermore you suggest that my "use" of the trademark Yellow Pages or a mark which is substantially identical or deceptively similar to your clients registered trade marks, infringes your clients trade mark rights.
Can I ask you to be specific please? What "use" of the trademark itself am I making, or is the trademark I am using substantially similar or deceptively similar to your client's? Or perhaps it is all three. Then we come to the term "use". Please be good enough to specify the "use" to which I am putting this actual, or similar or deceptive trademark and whether said trademark is the actual one, or some similar or deceptive one.
Finally you suggest that such use is "likely to mislead members of the public into believing that there is an association between your organisation and our clients."
I would be fascinated to learn from you the nature of the "association" implied, expressed or entailed in the article to which you refer. Please specify both the kind of association and the specific language used to imply that that would be likely to lead people to that assumption.
Frankly, that is absurd on its face and indicates that you have not bothered to read the article that you refer to. At no point do I claim to have such an association (beyond that of interested user), nor do I hint, imply or invite the reader to assume such a relationship. However, if you can specify the precise language to which you refer I will be more than happy to reconsider.
I am, however, critical of the product/ service being offered by Yellow Pages as inadequate to the environment in which it is being offered. Could it be that your clients are not happy with that criticism and, rather than engage with me about it, or responding to the criticism as they are both entitled and enabled to do in the comments on the posting, they have resorted to using your offices and an irrelevant piece of law in an attempt to intimidate me into shutting up and going away?