"Taubman Sucks!"
by Henry Charles Mishkoff

Chapter 2: We Can Work It Out

May 24, 2001
Help Me Help You

When I figured that I had learned as much about trademark law as I was likely to learn in a few days, I wrote back to Julie to discuss her accusations.

Before I replied to the substance of her note, I had to ask her about the aspect of the situation that bothered me most of all, which was: Why was her client threatening to sue me for creating a website that helped to publicize their mall?

Nothing about my site does (or will ever) detract from your client's business. In fact, by offering additional information about the mall, I can only heighten awareness in your client's property and, hopefully, increase their business. I would think that your client would want to encourage my endeavor, and I'm puzzled as to why they're trying to shut me down instead.

That out of the way, I summarized the things I had discovered about trademarks and cybersquatting, and I explained why I didn't think I was breaking any laws. Since she clearly seemed to think that I was breaking some laws, I asked her for some details:

Ms. Greenberg, if you still believe that my website causes trademark infringements or "cybersquatting" violations, I'd be grateful if you could steer me to the relevant sections of the laws that you believe I'm violating. Since I have no desire to break any laws, I will surrender the domain name as soon as you convince me that I'm doing so, which could save both of us a lot of unnecessary work, time, and trouble.

At this point, I figured that one of two things was going to happen.

It seemed most likely that, being an attorney, Julie would respond with a detailed list of specific sections of specific laws that I was violating. If her arguments were convincing, I would turn my domain name over to her client, as I had said in my note. But what if I disagreed with her interpretations of those laws? That would put me in the uneasy position of arguing about the nuances of intellectual property law with an intellectual property lawyer – and if that happened, I had to believe that, sooner or later, we'd end up conducting that argument in front of a judge. (And I had other fish... well, you know what I mean...)

On the other hand, there was a good chance that I'd never hear from Julie again. I knew that companies sometimes paid lawyers to write threatening letters on the theory that many people are so terrified by the prospect of being sued that they'll go along with any demands, reasonable or otherwise, to avoid being dragged into court. And I also knew that, because paying a lawyer to write a letter is a whole lot less expensive than paying a lawyer to sue someone, many of these kinds of situations never get past the threatening-letter stage. In other words, the C&D letter could have been a bluff, a shot across my bow to see if the very thought of being sued would make me surrender without a fight.

I relaxed through a pleasant Memorial Day weekend. A week went by. Then a month. Hordes of junebugs crunched underfoot, then suddenly disappeared – as they do every year. Spring gave way to summer, and a stifling heat descended on the Dallas area – as it does every year. I celebrated the Fourth of July in traditional Texas fashion with fireworks and too much food.

Still no word from Julie.

I began to think that I would never hear from her again.

Maybe the fight had ended before it even had a chance to begin.

Next: The Non-Responsive Response

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