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. identifies itself as “”, 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…

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