Sensis’ legal bullying revisited

On 19 January I wrote about Sensis’ lawyers sending legal “nastygrams” to small website owners. Professor Roger Clarke has received a response [PDF file], which we can’t copy and paste because it’s a scan of a printed letter.

Professor Clarke reckons the response is “reasonable enough (as far as it goes)”, and he won’t be taking the matter any further. His article on Lawyers’ ‘Nastygrams’ re Trademarks reminds us that lawyers’ letters often make inappropriate demands on behalf of trademark-owners.

It’s vital that people stand up for their rights, and resist corporations getting away with claims that go beyond the already excessive rights that corporate welfare laws in the ‘intellectual property’ arena grant them.

So, we all should say “the Yellow PagesĀ® directory” to help Sensis prevent their trademark turning into a generic word. Sensis is our friend.

The funniest bit, I think, is that the lawyer’s response reckons the original letter was intended to “encourage the proper use of Sensis trademarks”. Lawyers must have a funny idea about “encouragement”: their “nastygram” was a three-page letter in pompous legalese containing veiled threats [PDF file].

2 Replies to “Sensis’ legal bullying revisited”

  1. Hold on, did I read this right?

    Sensis wants to “prevent their trademark turning into a generic word”?

    Isn’t that the Holy Grail of marketing and positioning? To have your brand name turn into a generic word?

    I present: Google, Hoover, Kleenex, Bandaid…

  2. No, it’s not the holy grail. Once a term becomes generic, you lose the ability to stop other people from using the term to apply to their products – “bandaid” now refers to any cheap, quick fix, buying “Kleenex” doesn’t neccessarily mean that the Kleenex company made any money. Google went so far as to release a blog post about this years ago…

    Just google… I mean, just use Google to search for “genericide” to see some of the stories about companies who lost trademarks…

    (obdisc: comments are my own, not my employer’s, except for the blog post which is my employer’s and not mine).

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