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Segfault and User Friendly threatened 271

Posted by sengan
from the is-mongolian-trademark-free? dept.
Blank Space wrote in stating "Someone claiming to be representing a corporation has demanded that Segfault and UserFriendly remove parodies using its trademarked name from their sites." Anyone know which corporation? In other nonsense today, Niels Provos writes "Theo de Raadt, OpenBSD Project leader, is being threatened with legal action if he does not turn over his domain theos.com to the Theos Software Corporation (the proud makers of a new 32-bit OS that can support more than 200 users at the same time!). The said company only needed about three years to find out about it and are so gracious to offer $35 as compensation, so that he can register another domain." Theo de Raadt provides contact information on his website.
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Segfault and User Friendly threatened

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Didn't Mad Magazine set a precident many years ago concerning use of trademarks/names in satire, making it legal so long as it's for the sake of satire?
  • Since when is E-mail the lawyer choice for official corrispondence? If you're gonna send me a cease and desist, it damn well better be on paper (I'd be willing to consider one that was digitally signed with PGP or similar products.) Otherwise it gets classified as someone yanking my chain and into the bit bucket it goes.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Come on! If you knew how many Softies read UserFriendly on a daily basis...

    ... and if it is us, I'll be having stern words with my boss, and his boss, and all the way up the chain, if necessary.
  • Quoting, roughly, a famous lawyer whose name I forget:

    • If the law is with you, hammer away on the law.
    • If the facts are with you, hammer away on the facts.
    • If the law and the facts are against you, hammer away on the table!
  • Even truth is not a defence under our legal system in defamation cases. Canada has the same legal heritage as us ( British common law) and may have similar defamation laws.

    Truth is an absolute defense against accusations of libel and slander (i.e. defamation) under Canadian civil law, and I'm 95% sure we get that from British common law.

    Think about it: the offense involved in defamation is saying something bad about someone that isn't true. If it is true, the offense hasn't been committed. Otherwise, you'd never see headlines in newspapers like Multiple-Murderer Will Appeal Conviction. "Your honour, this article clearly and deliberately puts the Son of Sam in a poor light."

    Now, I believe that in the U.S. you can get away with saying untrue things if you can show that you really truly did honestly believe they were true when you published them. There's not much of a history of people managing that in Canada, as I understand it.

    IANAL, BTW.

  • The scary thing was that because the parody was not protected speech, I was flagrantly violating a ton of trademarks

    What, according to the people who were threatening you? Well, of course: they'll say anything. You wouldn't expect them to say something like, "We'd never succeed in court, so we're hereby demanding that you comply with our wishes out of fear and/or the goodness of your heart," would you?

    Truth defenses (and, arguably, parody or "fair comment" -- don't know as much about them) don't make your plaintiff-to-be vanish in a puff of smoke. If successful, they make the judge in a civil trial say, "Defense succeeds, case dismissed with costs."

    If you're not interested in sitting through court action, your only choice is to negotiate with your opponent. If your opponent won't budge, you have to either fight after all or give up. There is no magic.

  • Bah.

    The First Amendment is there for a reason. Lawyers have worked hard for a long time to chip away at what it actually means. If this is Microsoft, it's probably even more stupid -- they are entirely over-protective of whatever they think even might be theirs. The right to parody exists in the United States and on the Internet. Nobody should take that away (barring of course those cases where it puts lives at risk -- yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater or joking about bombs at the airport.. *sigh*)
  • Put simply.... No. Parody is protected in Canada. - Adam Schumacher
  • I would like to clarify that I am a Canadian citizen, and was basing my original post on my understanding of Candian Laws.

    - Adam Schumacher
  • Put simply, they cannot make them stop. Parodies have long been protected from libel/slander suits, on the grounds of fair comment. I just hope that the guys at segfault and User Friendly know that, and don't just kowtow to whatever incarnation of the evil empire threatens them now.
  • This would actually be the third time... remember the announcement that segfault was opening? They went down like a $2 whore.

    (FWIW, the whole reason I posted this was so I could say "went down like a $2 whore")

    do the obvious if you want to email me ...
  • Things have changed a lot since Cutter John and Opus and the rest of them fled in terror from the Death Star billboard.

    - A.P.
    --


    "One World, One Web, One Program" - Microsoft Promotional Ad

  • by dmd (404)
    It never ceases to amaze me that people can't even spell "/." correctly.


    --
  • It has to be Microsoft behind all the bullying, seeing as how the only things segfault seems to make fun of are M$ and Linux. And I doubt Linus is bullying them.

    Microsoft has that Windows 2000 dead [min.net]line to meet. Why don't they work on that?

  • He parodied them a few days ago with the "Windows 98" install strip, and give the lawyers a few days to get off their butts to get the e-mail written (give or take a day for them to get MS Exchange working properly, etc) and the timing is right...
  • Is it just me, or does anybody else who reads UF get reminded of iCan't interent?

    On topic: not a bad idea. I think I'll see about sending the FSF some money anyway (can't say when or how much, but I mean RSN); I've always wanted to.

  • Where does that saying come from and what exactly does it mean? I know it means you're talking utter rubbish, but I'm curious about it's more specific meaning and origins.
  • Microsoft couldn't sue based on an "IE" trademark infringement, since they do not hold the trademark to either IE or "internet explorer." In fact, Microsoft itself is guilty of trademark infringement over the term and its abbreviation, and has been being sued by the trademark holder for the last few years, but their team of high-paid lawyers seems to be delaying things.
  • That's Rogue Squadron. I'm not quite sure what a Rouge Squadron game would be like, but it would probably be hard to play with all the reddish tints.
  • That makes sense. If it was indeed a real letter from Microsoft, I was trying to figure out where the "backhanded compliment" fit in, since nobody has paid any sort of compliments to Microsoft on either site, backhanded or otherwise.
  • by gavinhall (33)
    Posted by Wayne Steele:

    It seems that the folks over at Be Dope (a BeOS-centric parody site) got the same letter. There is an article on their site about it.

    IMO, this points the finger right back at Microsoft. I can't imagine why AT&T or AOL would have any problem with Be Dope. Microsoft, on the other hand, has been the focus of several articles over there.

    Anyway, see http://www.bedope.com/ for more details.
  • Posted by Wayne Steele:

    Be Dope - http://www.bedope.com/ - got the same letter.
  • by gavinhall (33)
    Posted by Wayne Steele:

    Be Dope IS in America and they got the same letter...

    http://www.bedope.com/
  • Posted by Wayne Steele:

    Even if Sun had a reason to go after User Friendly, why would Seg Fault and Be Dope get the same letter?
  • Posted by Wayne Steele:

    Remember... User Friendly was not the only one to get this letter. Seg Fault and Be Dope did as well. I don't read Seg Fault much, but I can say that I don't recall Be Dope ever picking on Star Wars.
  • Posted by robradio:

    Getting embroiled with the core of the open-source community on something as petty as this, seems similar to getting involved in a land war in south-east Asia. With many of the industry's best and brightest putting their weight and wisdom behind the open-source movement, it strikes me that you may have seriously underestimated (and now offended) this community.

    Make a reasonable offer for the domain name. You obviously have the money, you just chose the wrong way to spend it.

    virtually,

    RobRadio@thenewbreed.com
  • Your point is irrelavent. Free speech is free speech. That's the problem woth freedom of speech; you have to put up with opinions you don't like.
  • CPT is a Ralph Nader thing. Too big for them to take down. It would get them some seriously bad PR if they try to take out a "consumer protection site."

  • If he could find lawyers to stick it out until such a suit could come to fruition, then maybe he's got a chance. They simply countersue Microsoft for all the legal fees (and he should give all his lawyers a big raise :) and for emotional distress caused by a huge corporation filing a frivolous lawsuit against him. Yeah.. I like that.

  • Couldn't Theo argue that since they peacefully coexisted for three years that The OS Software diluted their own trademark? His site says that they registered theos-software.com 9 months after his domain was registered. Didn't they tacitly give up the trademark by not persuing his domain then?
  • Although the death star reference may make it seem like Microsoft, I have yet to receive any trouble from them over kmfms.com [kmfms.com]. I've been unable to get into Segfault to try and figure out exactly what they could have said to miff MS off, but I doubt they would target parodies before going after places like yamoo [i-want-a-website.com] or the excellent CPT's Microsoft Antitrust Page [essential.org] which are far more direct in their criticism.
  • Reagan, maybe, but not lucas.

    "Evil Empire" was a reference to the Soviet Union, known in its final days as the "U.F.F.R." (Union of Fewer and Fewer Republics), originating in one of Reagan's speeches.

    So maybe it's the rump Communist Party in Russia . . .

    :)
  • Probably but you don't have to win a lawsuit to ruin somebody anymore. Especially is you're fighting against hobbiests. Threaten to sue and more often then not, even if they aren't breaking the law, they will give up. Worst case, you sue them and it's "BOLOMAG" (Big Organization with Lots of Money and Guns) against Joe Webmaster in court and you run up his legal fees and put him out of business.


    Scientologists have been accused of that tactic, they have an endless supply of money and they can lose law suit after law suit and financially ruin their detractors.


    The Theos one is interesting, I bet they have no case. It sounds like they were willing to compromise though. They could have theos.com and give theos.net or theos.org to Theo, right? That would seem pretty reasonable to me, the dot com addresses will always get looked up faster by the web browsers... If it's a marketing gimmick, it's brilliant becuase they have pushed the right buttons just enough to get the attention but not too much to expose their ploy. They have a legitmate concern.

  • Well maybe not. I have no idea where segfault is bassed but UF is based in BC Canada. While US laws protect things like this (See Faldwell vs Flynt) I have no idea where Canadian law stands.
  • Well, their corporate webserver certainly can't keep up with /. effect. For those interested:

    % telnet www.theos-software.com http
    Trying 207.21.75.2...
    Connected to theos-software.com.
    Escape character is '^]'.
    HEAD / HTTP/1.1

    HTTP/1.0 200 OK
    Server: THEO+Server/1.0
    Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 16:58:20 GMT
    Content-Type: text/html
    Last-Modified: Fri, 19 Mar 1999 21:39:12 GMT
    Content-Length: 0

    Connection closed by foreign host.

    It took me many tries to even get in, and then I come to find out that content length is zero. Not only would I not buy their software because of their wanting to steal Theo's domain name, but it looks like they, a corporation, can't either (a) afford the hardware to power the site or (b) have a webserver on par with IIS.

    I've already sent the prez there my letter.
  • They could have theos.com and give theos.net or theos.org to Theo, right?


    I don't think so... from what I read, it sounds like they will allow him to register any domain name that does NOT contain Theos in it at all... therefore theos.net and theos.org are out. that's bullsh*t if you ask me, but what do I know?


    jaraxle

  • The e-mail that was sent (an e-mail no less) contains numerous grammatical and other errors. Like



    My client would also to agree to forward to you any electronic mail that it receives after the transfer that was intended for
    you.




    Maybe a hoax? Who knows. Damn, this kinda crap pisses me off :-(
  • If your B condition is met, your A condition is moot. .org domains were/are for personal/non-profit groups, .com for commercial groups, and .net for ISP's and the like. Thing is, we have too many morons registering personal domain names under .com, and too many idiotic companies bitching if they can't get their own name under .org and/or .net.

    Life would be better if common sense were more in demand...

  • Anyone who's been in the Unix business a while knows that the Death Star refers to AT&T. Jeff;
  • No, I don't think Theo should just roll over and play dead for these guys unless its in his best interest to do so. They never asked nicely, they offered him the cost of getting a new domain name and a threat to sue if he didn't comply. This is the same level of troglodyte behaviour as Archie Comics trying to force Veronica.org into giving over their domain name. The costs for a domain name is cheap. If you want to protect your trademarks its in your best interest to register them as soon as you even think of developing a company or product. It's the guys name, he didn't try and take over their trademark. I suppose that www.john.[org|com|net] should be disallowed because it might infringe on the trademarks of Taco John's restraunts and www.tony.[org|com|net] should be disallowed because it potentially infringes on Tony Roma's rib house.

    You're right that this isn't the same as toysrus being a little miffed at all the *rus domains. In this case there is some truth that the sites are trying to make use of part of the image of Toys R Us ('Backwards R' Us) that is. I still basically think they can grin and bear it. For the most part its a poor attempt at satire and comedians have been making various jokes about *rus for years.
  • close, but no cigar. archie comics withdrew the suit. it never went to court. we have diddly. Log
  • Their stories sort of match up- give you ONE guess as to WHOM since Illiad oopsed and dropped a subtle hint as to whom was persecuting them. You'd think they'd leave well enough alone considering that their PR is not anywhere NEAR the high point. The use of parody and names within the same is allowed by law- if the company pursues this little action any further than they have SegFault AND User Friendly have grounds for harassment and the damages, whoo...
  • Ouch...

    That'd explain the Deathstar refs equally as well. Problem is, it'd be giving Lucas' companies an UGLY black eye, PR-wise with us as much as MS doing the deed would- one of the market segments they DON'T want pissed at them with the release of the movie so close would be VERY pissed off at them (I know I would be!). The net's been a large dynamic in the PR and marketing of thier latest, soon to be released, film- attacking several of the more popular sites visited by that market segment's tantamount to suicide.
  • Lucasfilm has a long history of defending its copyright and images fiercely. Since Lucasfilm controls all merchandising rights from the Star Wars saga, they persecute counterfitters visciously. Remember that whole "Revenge" rather than "Return of the Jedi" name-switcheroo? It was a feint to foil early counterfitters into producing incorrectly-named merchandise. (I wish I still had my pirate "Revenge of the Jedi" poster too. That ersatz print would be worth more than an original on e-bay!)

    In 1984 they sued FASA over the name of their new boardgame: "Battledroids." Get this: they successfully argued that 'Droid' was their word. FASA then renamed their game Battletech.

    Illiad's "Y2K: The Phantom Menace" is just enough to flip those hyperactive copyright lawyers into a sabre-rattling fit.

  • Possible candidates: Microsoft, Lucas or AT&T.

    Lucas could be the case because of the Death Star and the Evil Empire are named, and because there was a Star Wars parody in UF. However, not one single bad word is ever spoken about Lucas or about Star Wars as a whole; all Lucas could sue Illiad on is infringement of copyright.

    AT&T. The connection with the Death Star is obvious when you look at their logo. However, AT&T has afaik never been named in UF, let alone dragged through the mud.

    Microsoft. First of all, Microsoft is the only company that is consistently being degraded. Furthermore, Microsoft was used as the Evil Empire and Bill Gates as the Emperor in the Star Wars parody, which firmly ties Microsoft to the Evil Empire and the Death Star. And on top of that, Microsoft is crazy enough to sue for something like this.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I think the evidence is obvious. The jury can come to no other conclusion than that Microsoft is the guilty party. :-)


    )O(
    the Gods have a sense of humor,
  • Nonsense. That might happen occasionally, but Illiad's portrayal of Microsoft is usually pretty accurate.

    Ah, but Microsoft doesn't _want_ to be portrayed accurately :-)


    )O(
    the Gods have a sense of humor,
  • Please keep comments like this to yourself! Keyboards are expensive and dont' stand up to having coke spit up onto them! :)

    "from the brain-stem-humor dept"
  • I decry your disparaging take on what it means to be a weasel. Weasels never did anyharm to anyone. In fact, they're good for the general well being. Well, unless you're a snake or or a hare in which case your s.o.l. I guess :->
  • anyone running crack against the router yet?
  • I think I'm with you on this one.

    I read the letter the lawyer sent - to paraphrase -

    We don't think you registered this to cause us
    grief, and we don't want to cause you any. We'll
    be glad to pay you the $35 registration fee and
    do the required paperwork... thanks for the
    cooperation.

    That just wasn't your typical "We're gonna sue you
    socks off" letter from a lawyer. They offer
    reasonable compensation if you are operating
    from the assumption that Theo didn't register
    the domain to hold them hostage. (Which I
    assume is the case.)

    I think Theo is probably ought to go along - I don't
    see this in the same vane as the "Death Star" threat
    in the other part of the thread.

    Steve
  • Go look at the mail the lawyer sent.

    For a lawyer - the was saying "Pretty
    please with sugar on top!"

    Now the point made that Theo might
    consider it worth more than their
    offering is a valid point - and he
    may very well have as legitimate a
    claim to the name as the company.

    On the OTHER HAND - if the company
    has indeed trademarked "Theos" along
    with "Theos Software" then they are
    duty bound to protect their trademark
    or loose it! That is the way the
    law is written. Most of you folks
    may be to young to remember the Xerox
    trademark lawsuit... Xerox had to go to
    court to keep their name trademarked,
    even though for all practical purposes
    the name is used to imply making a copy
    (which turns out to be both a blessing
    and a curse if you're Xerox..)
    If the company DOES have such a trademark
    then they are merely following what the
    law demands they do to protect that
    trademark - no more or less...and
    again..the letter Theo received doesn't
    come across in near the same vain as
    others have received.

    If he replies by offering to negotiate
    because he indeed has proper rights to
    the name as well -then they have a
    starting point..that is okay.

    I just think that villifying every
    company because the are acting to
    protect their name brands is silly,
    especially in this particular case
    where they really dont come off sounding
    like a vengeful bunch -

    From reading Theo's tirade - I gather he
    is really out of sorts cuz they didn't
    contact him personally - well, alot
    of things are done by mail in business -
    maybe the right way would have been a
    personal phone call - If the company was
    smart -they'd pick up on that detail
    and continue from there. BUT I can't
    fault the company for starting out this
    way.

    Go read their letter - see if it is comes
    off in a threatening manner.

    Steve
  • Truth is an absolute defense against accusations of libel and slander (i.e. defamation) under Canadian civil law, and I'm 95% sure we get that from British common law.
    I know that in the 1700's, truth was not a defense to libel under British common law. A Boston printer was tried for (true) libel under British common law in the 1760's. As the judge pointed out, truth is not a defense for libel.

    (The lawyer thanked the judge and pointed out to the jury that they should acquit if it's true, which they did, setting up the principles of jury nullification and truth as a defense to libel under American law.)

  • I wonder if this is a wide spread attack on the people that are parodying this company or if it was just one lawyer with some free time and decided that he would send some nice letters to these two sites.

    There is also the possibility of it being a hoax in two senses. UF and SF could have gotten together and come up with this idea just to see how the community would react. The other theory would be that someone forged an e-mail. This most likely be wrong if Illiad gets a registered letter.

    I am no lawyer (or much of anything for that matter) but the fact that there not allowed to say the companies name would in my universe fall under the idea of lack of freedom of speech. I know that UF is in Canada (i don't know what their laws are about) but I don't know were Segfault is.

    I read UF all of the time and enjoy it. I have not read Segfault in recent times. I would not like to see eater of them disappear or be hampered in any means and would like to have the idea that I could also create a site without having to worry about what I said about whatever be it person country or company.

    Long dream Nertopia
  • As far as the "Death Star" reference, I'd say that this strip and those around it give a pretty clear indication as to whom he is referring.

    You made up my mind.. heh..
    Down with Microsoft!

    Stan "Myconid" Brinkerhoff
  • by myconid (5642) on Wednesday March 24, 1999 @04:40PM (#1964043) Homepage
    A LITTLE MORE ON THE DEATH STAR
    09:50 PST 24 MAR 1999
    Hey, thanks to everyone who's written in voicing their support for UF in the upcoming litigation. I have to make a couple of things clear, however. 1) At this point I can't divulge who it is, and maybe hinting was a bad idea. 2) Media attention right now isn't appropriate, so contacting Reuters might do harm. 3) I promise to keep you all updated on this. I'm waiting for a registered letter that will confirm the e-mail. Apparently I'll be getting it soon.

    THE EVIL EMPIRE HAS REARED ITS UGLY HEAD
    08:25 PST 24 MAR 1999
    I can not believe the e-mail I got earlier today. It's from you-know-who's legal department. For legal reasons I can't reproduce the entire letter, but here's the gist of it: "You will cease and desist all negative connotations within your cartoon regarding [our client], or we will initiate a suit to claim damages for libel and defamation." Not only does this *irk* me, I'm going to call their bluff. Don't be concerned folks; my own lawyers say they don't have a leg to stand on, but for reasons not entirely clear to me I can't mention my accusers by name until proceedings are under way. I'm sure you can figure out *who* it is I mean.


    I'd assume by the first (date wise) reference that the "evil empire" is usually microsoft. But put together with the 2nd message title, "Death Star" it almost makes you think its someone associated with Starwars, and with that long segment about it, it almost makes me wonder, there havent been any Microsoft parities in a while.
    Its not FreeBSD, his current parity, he has USED WITH PERMISSION stuff, and I'm sure its not one of the Linux distros :)..

    My guesses are: Microsoft or Lucus Arts...
    Stan "Myconid" Brinkerhoff
  • Too bad Theos Software and/or A.T.&T. and/or Microsoft.
    Let's see, if this Theos thing is for real and after 3 years they're just now getting around to shopping for a netname that would officially make them the*only*software company even slower than Microsoft to notice that new-fangled internet thing.
    What can you possibly say about Microsoft in parody that's more defamatory than telling the truth about them.
    Speaking of A.T. & T., years ago a guy I knew told me that the nickname "Ma Bell" was originally the idea of one of their PR types, to present them in a warm friendly image (back when they were all-enveloping), but during a telcom workers strike they wore T-shirts that said "Ma Bell is a real mother..." and that killed any official support for that name.
    Speaking of Lucas Arts, I bought one of their games for my nephew, it was X-wing or Tie Fighter or some such, and the Lucas Arts name and logo were plastered all over the box and shrinkwrap, but once I took it home and opened it, there was a little piece of paper saying that Lucas Arts no longer supports that particular game and to contact some company neither you nor I probably ever heard of (maybe it was Theos software :) )for support. No mention of that other company on the outside of the box at all.
    While we're on the subject, can anyone steer me to a Star Wars space battle type game that's_lots_simpler and easier without all the cryptic keyboard combinations. The kid's only 6, he just wants to grab the joystick, zoom around without crashing and shoot the bad guys with out getting shot. Come to think of it, that's the kind of game I want too. :)

  • Obviously the unit the Rouge Baron flys for :)

  • Michael Dalton (the lawyer) has done work for me before and I can attest that he's an ethical person who I suspect is just carrying out the will of his client. Nevertheless I think there are times when clients should be advised that they are in the wrong and that this is probably one of them.

    Here's a letter I've sent to the parties involved.

    I really would like to see a clear statement of why Theos Software thinks they have both the right and the responsibility to take action in this case. At the moment I suspect/hope if the fellow from Theos Software had to present his case without Michael's help its ethical grounds (or lack thereof) would be plain to everyone.

    Michael,

    I have been a client of yours for the past few years. From time to time I've asked you to review contracts for me.

    I'm writing you to indicate my profound displeasure upon hearing that you are personally involved in a matter against another personal acquaintance of mine, Theo De Raadt, in the action described on his web site (http://www.theos.com). Theo is a person of remarkable integrity and ability whose efforts over the past several years have benefited a large number of people.

    Based on my past experience with him, I'm strongly inclined to believe the information he has presented on his web site. And based on my experience with you, someone whose legal and ethical judgement I've come to trust, I'm inclined to believe you would not take part in this kind of action if things are as Theo's site suggests.

    Unfortunately, I haven't found any clear statement of your client's position on his site. So, in absence of information, it is my theory that there is either some sort of confusion here or that your client must have some evidence Theo's site has not presented that would explain why legal action is appropriate in this case or perhaps both.

    So my question to you and your client is: can you direct me to a website where I can read your statement of your reasons for consdering bringing legal action against Theo? If you do I promise you I (and others) shall read it carefully without prejudice before considering what steps we should take.

    Should your client remain silent on this issue, I would have no recourse but to believe Theo's version of these events in which case I would feel obligated to do what I could to oppose this action.

    Regards,

    Cimarron Taylor
    cimarron@taylors.org

    CC: Theo De Raadt, Tim Williams

  • Anonymous Female wrote:

    What would you all be saying if it was the other way around? Like, what if someone had linuxsucks.com? Or, even worse, what if someone, bought linux.com, and just totally bashed it?

    Not an entirely hypothetical situation. Have you seen linux.org or linux.net lately? Ever? One is in frames (puke) and is owned by a guy who hypes Windows NT "solutions". The other is an embarrassment to the community of Linux users and developers, and owned by a guy who tried to get big software companies pay a fee to him and his (NT vendor) business partner so that they could set the standards for Linux.

    There are some differences. Linux is not a company. Linux is (probably) not anybody's first name.

    There's also a difference between the way the "Linux" TLD owners are treated and the way the holder of the theos.com domain is being treated. IIRC, linux.com went for a whole lot more than $35--even though it was not sold to the highest bidder. Linus has gone after unauthorized, misleading use of the Linux trademark. But though many people think the current use of the Linux TLDs is a shameful waste, you don't see lawyers hounding the owners to fork them over.

    theos.com is named after the guy who owns it. Yet three years later, some software company thinks his personal name is an infringement of their trademark! And they sent him a laughable cease-and-desist letter.

    Personally, I think Theos Software should rename their company, lest they offend the Almighty. "Theos" is the Greek word for "God," see, and God might not be too happy with trademark infringement either. ;-)

  • How is it dissimilar? Company A is currently threatening legal action against individual B for their unrelated, non-profit domain, which happens to match Company A's tradename.

    Add to this the fact that theos-software.com has happily co-existed with theos.com for three years now, and you've got a company who is gambling with a lawsuit on the chance that they just migh win.

    While I understand that there is no easy answer to this problem, I think there would be far fewer problems if there A) existed a TLD exclusively for personal web pages, and B) the distincitons between the TLDs (.com, .net, and .org) was actually enforced. (Ie, if you're a for-profit business, you cannot register a .org...if you're not for profit, you cannot register a .com, etc.)

    Of course, we all know that NSI will do that the day pigs learn to fly through hell's Winter Wonderland Family Theme Park.

    It's getting to the point where soon parents will be trademarking the names of their children and sueing other parents for infringement.

    Ok. I've said my piece.
  • Would be any of the Rebel Assault family. From what I've seen they are totally arcade with very little in the way of mission restriction and other features common in more in depth games like X-wing and it's family.
  • Several unofficial userfriendly.org mirrors have been setup - portal available at: http://uf.lart.org.uk/ [lart.org.uk] Greets to #unix, and thanks to 'Pink' for the previously archived strips :^))
  • "Our proposal is that if you transfer your domain name to my client, it would reimburse you for the cost of registering any new domain name that does not contain "theos", as well as for any costs associated with that transfer."

    Hmmm... well, switching to a new domain name hosted from his house on that T3 line with the slew of Alphas behind it would count as an associated cost associated with the transfer. (or the hardware of your choice, I'm not trying to start a flame war on what the best OS/Hardware is :) ) Just gotta make sure that ya put in there the line would be paid for for 3 full years to make up for the 3 years they just didnt notice the domain name. Getting a T3 to yer house would suck if you had to pay for it :)

    Perhaps he should propose this back at them. If they dont do it (which I seriously doubt they would), nothing is lost. But if they DO do it... COOL.
    ---------------------------------------
    The art of flying is throwing yourself at the ground...
    ... and missing.
  • by doomy (7461)
    Paraody is protected by the constitution if I'm not mistaken. If not, almost every joke make on Times, Newsweek, CNN and blah would have to be censored. This is totally insane.

    If M$shit is behind this, I'd be deeply distressed. If they really think they can get away with soemthing of this nature, bill gates should be put behind bars.
    --
  • Sheesh thank goodness your 2 cents dont matter in this issue.

    Its this kind of ignorance that make domain disputes so damn messy in the first place. This company has nary a claim to the domain and if you would actually read a little about domain ownership and the parties involved before forming an opinion maybe next time you could make a valid one.

    ---
    Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Solaris/FreeBSD/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...
  • So if there is protection for parody, and
    an adverse attorney knows this yet threatens
    legal action, has he opened his client to
    action by doing so? Perhaps they have exposed
    the achilles heel that will be their undoing.
    Could this be the one, seemingly tiny, error
    in their judgement that finally costs them the
    farm? Make it so!
  • Where is the follow-up. C'mon we're used to
    things happening FAST.
  • hahahaha. must be a pretty robust OS.
    Hey! It can handle 200 users!
  • What, Lucasfilm defend things agressively????
    Never!

    If it is LucasFilm, I think I'll be writing a nicely worded letter to George...
    Parodies are protected by law for a reason...

    oh well.

  • Keep in mind that Segfault is in the UK. I don't know what the laws are like over there, but they seem to do a lot of parodies on British TV. Hopefully, the British aren't as accepting of worthless lawsuits as we in the US are.
  • Well theos-software.com is down. theos.com is still up. I just wrote to both lawyers/ceo and Theo, theo replied in about two minutes. He's up working at 4am. He said that by his count theos-software has 52 emails to read tomorrow, judging by those who have emailed him. I'd prefer it to be 52,000 myself ;)

  • Ok, own up. Who broke their site? Guess "theos" isn't quite as robust as they would like.
  • Xwing is pretty good. Turn on the invulnerability option.
  • The thing that really annoys me about the Theos thing is the assumption in the email that his, or my, name is worth nothing, and a companies name is worth everything. The whole assumption that a company (an amoral entity) has more right to use my name than me is really offensive.
  • the last time CmdrTaco posted a story from segfault, something about top 10 slashdot flame comments or something that was on segfault.. boom within minutes :)
  • this is interesting, well on uf, it was definitely (SP!!) hinted that the supposed client was microsoft.

    but, if this is true and illiad does recieve a registered letter from their lawyers, he's going to beat this easily...

    it was proved in the flynt vs. falwell case (this is from someone's post in segfault.org before i hit the back button and segfault.org was /,'ed to hell) that parodies were protected, and corporations couldn't do much about it...

    We really need a legal expert around here. lawyer or law student, whichever

    p.s. if microsoft could really do this, i don't know why saturday night live isn't off the air yet. have you noticed their blatant use of real shows' title screens/logos? (like biography!), oh boy...

    p.p.s. this is probably a hoax, if it becomes public on the mass media, (and confirmed) this would be another dumb-thing-that-ms-did story. sigh

  • Segfault is in the UK. UF is in Canada. The first amendment doesn't apply to them. Also, from what I've heard, the British courts take a very dim view of frivilous lawsuits, so segfault is probably safe. (and could possibly make a few bucks off a counter-suit) I don't know much about Canadian fair use/parody laws, but I suspect its something close to ours. If so, {mystery company} hasn't got a chance of winning. If illiad loses there, he can always move UF to a server here in the states, and fight them with legal precedent on his side.
    I suspect that if this isn't just a hoax or an empty threat, the case will be thrown out of court so fast Bill's head will spin.
  • My company is named Slashdot Software!
    I command you to give me your hostname!"

  • I'll donate; I'll volunteer.

    Now the beginnings of an OpenLaw organization can begin to sprout, as I predicted many months ago.

    If there are lawyers who read this post, email me.

    I have ideas... Internet kills law firms... True virtual organizations take over...


  • I'm your worst nightmare buddy...

    raaaaaaaahhhhh!

    see?

  • Wassup?

    email me...

    PEACE...

    Yeah I can be an asshole 1) when I get paid to; or 2) when I get units for it.

    What people seem to forget is that it's the clients that say 'act like an asshole' and the lawyer HAS to say 'how wide?' (to an extent).

    For every dickhead lawyer, there's a an every nastier SOB client. It's what I have eruditely deemed that asshole-dickhead yin-yang universal reem-job. You don't have to travel to outer space for this one ladies and gentlemen... ;)


  • The inflammatory comments I made were not really intended to be taken seriously.

    I agree with you that lawyers should not do whatever the client wants.

    I'm my own person and can't change for damn near anybody (except my mama and my woman).


  • by trims (10010) on Wednesday March 24, 1999 @05:01PM (#1964072) Homepage

    Indeed, I don't know who the moron that got the idea of suing segfault/UF was, but they managed to forget at least two principles:

    1. Parodies of political or public figures has been explicitly protected by the Supreme Court on at least 4 different occasions. Very heavy precedents here. And there are dozens of cases that the various Circuit Courts have ruled where they include public companies as legal targets of such parodies. All protected under the 1st Amendment.
    2. To prove libel in the US, you have to prove at least 3 things: (a) that the speech was false (b) that the speaker knew it was false and (c) it caused measurable damage. The second is hard to prove, and the third is even more difficult. However, even here, parodies are afforded extra protection. For all of you who missed The People vs. Larry Flynt: parodies are protected as Free Speech even if they fulfill the previous 3 conditions if the speaker shows that no one would believe that the parody was true. Essentially, if everyone (ie "the average reader") knows that the speech is false, then it's protected (even if it's otherwise libelous).

    Even if they were suing simply as a way to "win-by-bankrupt", they should be careful. The thing that this company seems to forget is that it's becoming much simpler these days to counter-sue for malicious damages. The courts are very receptive to summary judgments in cases like this, and, depending on the judge, I wouldn't be suprised if it's thrown out immediately, and counter damages awarded without even a basic trial. I'd really like to see Illiad and Segfault make a bundle off of them.

    By the way, the "Death Star" thing actually got me to thinking of AT&T, even before LucasArts. Getting old....

    -Erik


  • Only by doing so can we ensure that they will be subjected to the appropriate public ridicule for their inappropriate use of legal harrassment to get their way on the Internet.

    Let's get that information soonest, guys. Whoever knows the folks at Userfriendly and Segfault should convince them to post the harrassing correspondence.

  • Sounding more and more likely to me.

    But then again they went down so hard that I can't even read the story.

    Hehe.
  • While I am going on as little info as everyone else, I would bet that Lucas Arts, Lucasfilm, etc. do not play any part here. After all, the hint from Illiad included a quote about "negative connotations within your cartoon regarding [our client]." This, coupled with UserFriendly's stance on Microsoft and the many parodies wherein they are the chief "victim," if you will, lead me to believe that it is Microsoft.

    As far as the "Death Star" reference, I'd say that this strip and those around it [userfriendly.org] give a pretty clear indication as to whom he is referring.

    Yet I do not see the motive behind this move as UserFriendly is not exactly an unknown site, and it is well known that the Open Source community tends to protect its own. Legally, I do not believe they have a leg on which to stand. (Though I'm not a lawyer and could be talking through my hat.) I don't see any outcome other than bad PR for them, which makes me think that perhaps an overeager member of the legal department fired this off without doing his homework.

    It will be most interesting to see how this pans out. Especially when our mystery guest is revealed.

    Chris

  • Humph. theos.com worked fine; theos-software.com is down, "Document contains no data".

    I guess we know whose operating system works. :-) Either that, or theos-software is too embarassed to let us see the page.

    D

    ----
  • True enough, but neither User Friendly nor Segfault have parodied AT&T in any way, shape or form.

    I would say it's likely to be Star Wars, since they have the greatest interest in protecting their trademarks, but I would think that:

    (1) Illiad et al would be at least somewhat sympathetic towards a Star Wars argument; few people that I can see have any particular animus towards SW.

    (2) Illiad and Segfault have been (deservedly) relentless in attacking Microsoft, but the Star Wars references have been fairly rare, and not negative towards SW.

    So I would suspect it's Microsoft, especially with the number of really rude (and stupid, in my view) Microsoft stories that appeared recently.

    Still hard to believe it's either - MS has had an "embrace and extend" attitude about anti-MS sites. When I was actively running mine, I got a call from a very nice MS employee who sent me a whole bunch of MS software, gratis, in an effort to get me to change my mind. Didn't work, but I was impressed by the gesture anyway.

    D

    ----
  • by Grenamier (12799) on Wednesday March 24, 1999 @05:26PM (#1964097)
    I'm sorry to say this, but I think the time has come for some kind of fund or program to be set up so that lawyers can be hired to defend when needed against stupid lawsuits like this. I'm not sure if the comic strips would qualify for such help, but clearly the Internet is entering a new arena with different rules than what came before.

    Corporations with lots of money and lawyers are able to threaten and pick off small opponents on the Web like these comic strips and even individual coders or small companies. Look at all the bogus patents that have been filed lately. The terrible laws being proposed. We know most of these things are completely bogus, but who can fight them? Individual coders and small sites just don't have the money to put up even a small defense against a large corporate legal department with something to gain.

    I think a legal fund needs to be set up, or even a staff that can used to challenge patents or fight off dumb lawsuits. Perhaps OSI can set up a marketing division for Open Source apps and get a cut of revenues from products that use the marketing service...the proceeds could go towards the funding of legal services, which would be available on request under certain conditions.

    Microsoft is at risk because the open-source/free-software movement is changing the rules of the software business and yanking the rug out from under Microsoft's feet. But, the other side of the coin is that the new spotlight and the "mainstreaming" of open-source makes things like lawsuits and patents much more relevant to the open-source community than they used to be. The rules are changing for open-source too, and the community has to be able to respond, or it's possible that high-profile projects like GNU, Linux, KDE, GNOME and Apache won't be able to continue developing without being plagued with legalities that are like maggots on a rotting carcass.

    Thanks if you're still reading. This is a lot longer than I meant it to be, but I had to get this off my chest. The rules are changing for open-source, just as the rules age changing for Microsoft et al. We know Microsoft will make some kind of response...what response will open-source make?


    (Is this long enough to count as a feature? :)
  • by Robotech_Master (14247) on Wednesday March 24, 1999 @06:17PM (#1964105) Homepage Journal
    (Assuming that Mikey$oft are the ones who (allegedly) wrote this letter, which isn't certain but does seem to have been implied...)

    Let's step back and look at this for a moment, shall we?

    No matter how badly they've mucked up the antitrust case in the court, Mikey$oft is not stupid. Certainly not stupid enough to pull a stunt like this.

    Let's face it, this is the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, and one of our greatest hot-buttons, as a nation, is the freedom of speech issue, especially when a Big, Evil, Nasty Corporation wants to take it away from The Little Guy. Mikey$oft might just as well adopt the slogan "We torture babies"--it could not get them too much more reviled than something of this nature.

    As some of my friends have been saying...if this goes to trial, just think of the legal defense fund. Not only do sysadmins (many of whom are the strip's target audience) tend to make a fairly good income, but companies--especially Mikey$oft's competitors--will be falling all over themselves to get the positive publicity. "IBM contributes $1,000,000 to Internet Humorist's Defense Fund".

    There's also the matter that this was an email--not a registered letter or other normal means by which you would think a lawyer would deliver such an ultimatum.

    I'll admit, I could be wrong, and I have been before, and I'll be the first to shake my head in consternation if this is really real...but it sure smells like a hoax to me.
  • Why wouldn't they say which company was doing the threatening.? Sounds like a hoax to me.
  • Here is the letter to segfault:

    Dear Mr Remnant,

    We write concerning your site, SEGFAULT.ORG, which we recently visited.
    While we appreciate the humor, and the backhand compliment, we have an
    obligation to protect the distinctive nature of our client's trademarks.
    As we are certain you can appreciate, our clients have expended
    substantial time and resources in developing the considerable recognition
    and goodwill associated with their names and marks.

    We understand and appreciate that parody is intended, and that parody is
    permitted under the trademark laws. Nevertheless, we believe that your use
    of our client's trademarks on your web site is against the spirit of this
    allowance.

    In the interest of cooperation, we would appreciate it if you could remove
    the stories containing offending remarks against our clients, or alter
    them to portray our clients in a more positive light.

    I will look forward to receving your reply by March 27, 1999. Thank you in
    advance for your understanding of our need to protect our client's rights.


    And here's the letter from http://www.jokewallpaper.com/letter1.htm:

    Dear Mr. Kremer,

    We write concerning your NETSCRAPE NEGOTIATOR web site, which we recently visited. While we appreciate the
    humor, and the backhanded compliment, we have an obligation to protect the distinctive nature of the NETSCAPE
    trademark, logo and interface. As we are certain you can appreciate, Netscape has expended substantial time and
    resources in developing the considerable recognition of and goodwill associated with the NETSCAPE name and mark.

    We understand and appreciate that parody is intended, and that parody is permitted under the trademark laws.
    Nevertheless, we believe that your use of our logo and a similar name creates a possibility of confusion and dilutes
    the distinctiveness of our marks.

    In the interests of supporting humor on the Internet, but at the same time protecting our rights, we would be willing to
    grant you a short-term, three month non-exclusive license to use the mark and logo, as long as you are willing to
    remove the confusing materials at the end of the three month period.

    I will look forward to receiving your reply by June 18, 1996. Thank you in advance for your understanding of our need
    to protect our trademark rights.

    Sincerely,
    Mitchell Baker
    Associate General Counsel

    -end letter-

    This solves the mystery, then, except for who the sender is.

    -Chris
    http://www.usinternet.com/users/c.gregerson/ [slashdot.org]


  • I had completely forgotten UF's references to M$ as the Evil Empire. When I saw on his site he was being served notices, and referred to the corporation as "The Evil Empire." I immediately latched on to an [mattshouse.com]
    article on MattsHouse that drew a cool parallel between M$/Evil Empire, Linux community/Rebellion, and FUD/Death Star in Return of the Jedi.

    But he was probably just referring to his own work.


  • What would we do without the MAD magazines, the Dennis Miller/Leary Raves.... Parody and Satire are the Spice of Life (i.e REALLY Fscking Hot Spice)I have accused UF of having a mole in my organization since what they report seems to coincide with what happens at my ISP, however... DO NOT shut them down "Free the Dust Puppy"...
    I however did make an embarassing report from seg. to /. So I AM kinda bitter because of my own ignorance..... Free Them All.... The Tie-Dye Ribbon Campaign !!!

  • I'm sorry to say this, but I think the time has come for some kind of fund or program to be set up so that lawyers can be hired to defend when needed against stupid lawsuits like this. I'm not sure if the comic strips would qualify for such help, but clearly the Internet is entering a new arena with different rules than what came before.


    Theoretically, this is exactly what the ACLU is for. (Anybody out there who doesn't know-- it's the American Civil Liberties Union. They are a prominent group of free speech/bill of rights supporters in the United States)

    While the ACLU generally sticks to cases with a large profile, (due mostly because there are enough rights violations to protect, and also because their clients are generally not charged) something like this could easily be covered.

    There is a good precedent for parody, as mentioned in some previous replies. And the precedent should be upheld. . . should comics such as Leno, Letterman, etc be sued for making jokes about the companies? I think most would agree, even among the ranks of the company doing the litigation in this case, that such a suit would be ridiculous.

    What we're dealing with here is a medium issue, and the rights of this electronic medium seem no different to me than the rights granted a broadcast or print spectrum.
  • by pest (24214)
    I'm thinking that it could be aol as easily as MS, the only other person who i think it could be. both UF and SF have had comics/articles making fun of AOL. But, as i said it is just a thought, we will all just have to wait for now.

    Pest
  • On the other hand, even if he didn't register the domain to hold it hostage, that doesn't mean that it's not worth more than $35 for the hassle of being forced to change his domain (which costs $70, anyway). The offer is fairly insulting, monetarily speaking.

    There is no mechanism in the system for folks looking for Theo at theos.com to be able to easily find that he has moved once he gives up that domain name. The company who takes it over *might* provide a link, but even so Theo will lose a certain amount of traffic from people who will no longer be able to easily find him. This is a major difficulty when you, essentially, *live* at a certain address on the Net.

    When I lost my old domain, I described it to my lawyer like this -- it's as if you've been forced to move away, and someone comes looking for your house and the house is gone -- there's nothing there but a hole in the ground. Not even a sign saying where you've moved to. Do not underestimate the stress that this causes.

    My old domain name was shut down over a year ago and I still can't get some major sites to stop linking to the old address.

    Even if he's not using the name to gain money, if this company really wants to treat him right, they should make an offer reasonable enough to make the name change less painful. Essentially they are asking him to "move" to a new home. I'm not saying that it should be megabucks, but it should be more than the mere cost of registering a new domain.
  • Tim Williams' phone number is on theo's web page, which is 925-935-1118.

    However, his extension number is 214.

    If you call off hours then you can leave a message in his voice mail.

    hehe.

    James Blachly
  • And, here's their address, if anyone wants to write... You can also find their fax number and various e-mail addys, too...


    1777 Botelho Dr. Suite 110
    Walnut Creek, CA 94596
  • Maybe 200+ /.'ers tried to look at it at once. :)

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