eBay responds to 700+ submissions to ACCC

When the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) decided to investigate eBay Australia’s plan to force its sellers to use PayPal for their “protection”, there were more than 700 public submissions. eBay has responded by dismissing the objections.

I’ve written about this at length previously, both here and in Crikey [1, 2], with plenty of interesting comments from readers. And I’ve just written a piece for Crikey today, to be published around 2pm Sydney time.

Meanwhile, you can read some overview pieces at Auction Bytes and The Sheet. And you can see eBay’s full 15-page response at the ACCC website: it’s the second submission on the page, from “Applicant”.

To make things just that little bit more interesting, yesterday Telstra’s Sensis division announced a free auction site at Trading Post.

[Update 1250pm: The story will now run in Crikey tomorrow (Thursday). Busy news day, apparently.]

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 Pages® 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].

Sensis lawyers bully small fry over Yellow Pages trademark

Section of screenshot of Yellow Pages website taken today

Sensis, the Telstra subsidiary that owns things like the Yellow Pages and Trading Post, has kicked off a legal attack on small websites for “trademark infringement”. Why? Because they haven’t got an ® after every mention of “Yellow Pages”.

Apart from the daftness of attacking little fish, which only makes your company look like a bully, you’ve got to wonder why they’re doing it.

  1. They’re re-branding as “Yellow” anyway. yellowpages.com.au identifies itself as “yellow.com.au”, and their new logo just says “Yellow”. Here’s a screenshot of their site as of a few minutes ago.
  2. There doesn’t seem to be any actual trademark infringement. At least not by my reading of some material I’ll mention shortly.

I found out about this yesterday when Professor Roger Clarke posted to the Link mailing list. I’ve become more and more astounded at the stupidity of it all as I’ve read people’s comments…

Continue reading “Sensis lawyers bully small fry over Yellow Pages trademark”

Who uses printed phone directories?

I just posted the following comment to Sensis, the Telstra-owned company which distributes the telephone directories in Australia. I’ll let you know if I get a response.

How do I stop receiving printed telephone directories?

We received Sydney’s “Inner West” Yellow Pages the other day. It reminded me that we haven’t used the printed telephone directories at all for at least the last two years. Each year we receive the new directories — and they sit unused, a total waste of paper.

Thanks in advance,


P.S. Why does your website contact form make “Title” and “Surname” required fields? A surname is not a required thing — don’t have one, for example — and titles are optional. Surely to receive feedback the only thing you need is some way of contacting the person if they want a response — say an email address.

When was the last time you used the White Pages or Yellow Pages on paper? What were you looking for? Has the time come to forget about printing these things anyway?