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Act 3: I Ask Taubman for Details

Since I had no desire to be in violation of any laws, I conducted a little research on both trademark law and the Anti-Cybersquatting Act, and I could not see how I had violated either of them. Recognizing that, as a non-lawyer, my understanding of either or both of these laws could well be flawed, I decided to ask Ms. Greenberg to tell me exactly what sections of those laws she thought I was violating. Here's the text of my letter of May 24, 2001.

Dear Ms. Greenberg:

This is in response to your letter of May 17 (TCI-04380/03).

I'm puzzled by the operative paragraph:

    "You are hereby advised that this use of our client's registered mark creates a likelihood of confusion as to a relationship with our client, in violation of federal and state trademark and unfair competition law, as well as a violation of the federal Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act."

As it says on the website in question, I created the site as a public service. I live near the mall, and was very excited when the development was announced. I'm a big fan of what your client is doing. Although I have not been able to devote the time to the site that I had hoped, I'd like to evolve it into a sophisticated site containing a great deal of information about the mall, including interactive maps and, perhaps, videos and/or VR tours.

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. Perhaps they just don't understand what I'm doing with the site - and if that's the case, I'm hopeful that this note may help to clear up the confusion.

To address your specific concerns:

  • I agree that it would be a problem if anything about my site confused people into thinking that I had any kind of relationship with your client. With that in mind, the home page of my site features (and has always featured) a prominent statement that my site is "unofficial." Even better, the home page of my site features (and has always featured) a link to your client's site. (Again, I'm bringing business to them, not taking business from them.) I feel that those features eliminate any possibility that anyone might be confused into thinking that I have a relationship with your client. However, if you feel that other wording would serve to make that point more clear, I would appreciate any suggestion that you might have.

  • As a trademark holder myself, I am certainly sensitive to issues of trademark infringement, and would never intentionally do so. Not being an attorney, I am forced to rely on consumer publications for my information about trademark law, so please forgive me if this seems laughably over-simplistic to you, but...

    • I am clearly not trying to "palm off" my efforts as being those of your client.

    • As I stated earlier, I don't believe that there is any likelihood of consumer confusion (and if you disagree, I am open to suggestion as to how the confusion might be eliminated).

    • I am not competing with your client - in fact, my website is engaged in no commercial activity whatsoever. Although I understand that you may be skeptical that I created the site as a public service, I do have a habit of doing things like that, and you can see many of those efforts via links from my WebFeats.com home page (D/FW ISP's, Addison Restaurant Guide, Webserver Setup Diary, etc.).

  • I had never heard of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, but I looked it up online - and once again, as with trademark issues, I don't see how my site runs afoul of that act. (Again, I'm not a lawyer, I recognize that I may be overlooking something that's obvious to you.) Specifically...

    • I have no bad-faith (or any other) intent to profit from your client's trademark.

    • I am using the domain name non-commercially.

    • I am not attempting to divert consumers from your client's website. (In fact, I am doing the exact opposite.)

    • I am not attempting to sell the domain name for financial gain. (The domain name is not for sale.)

    • I did not provide any false or misleading information in the process of registering the domain name.

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.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this or if there is any other information I could provide that might help to clarify the situation and/or my intentions.

Hank Mishkoff

Next: Taubman Ignores My Request

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