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Censorship The Courts The Internet

Startup Threatened Into Settling Over Hyperlinking 333

An anonymous reader writes "A tiny startup that was threatened by a massive law firm over nothing more than a humble hyperlink has been forced to settle and change its linking policies, handing Goliath the win in this gratuitous trademark case. Under the agreement, real estate startup BlockShopper can no longer include hyperlinks anywhere on its website to Jones Day, a massive Chicago law firm, except explicitly on URL text. Essentially, jonesday.com is okay, but not blah blah blah." I wonder if the owners of jonesdaysucks.com feel the same way.
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Startup Threatened Into Settling Over Hyperlinking

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:26PM (#26945961)

    When the only tool you have is a hammer...

  • Apropos of nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChrisGoodwin ( 24375 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:31PM (#26945983) Journal

    It really sucks [jonesday.com] that the little guy got screwed [jonesday.com] by a bunch of litigious bastards [jonesday.com].

  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:38PM (#26946009)
    I have a feeling jones day, are about to have a really bad day.
  • by clambake ( 37702 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:55PM (#26946091) Homepage

    From TFA: "Do you know, young man, how much money it's going to cost you to defend yourselves against Jones Day?"

    So, basically, here's a just saying, point blank, that he's not in the business of justice... that it's irrelevant if you are right in the eyes of the law, if you don't have enough money, you lose. It's refreshing to see a judge being so honest.

  • Re:oh yizzo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @12:02AM (#26946131) Journal

    I get the feeling that they are soon to learn about what is called The Streisand Effect - You know, it's where you fuck up on the Internet and the entire fucking Internet takes a moment to let you know about it.... lol

  • wtf judge? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KDingo ( 944605 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @12:05AM (#26946155)

    Unfortunately, the judge in the case refused to even look at the brief after Jones Day said the brief sided with one party (as most amicus briefs do); he also refused to dismiss the case at the request of BlockShopper. According to TechDirt, the judge even allegedly put pressure on BlockShopper to back down by saying, "Do you know, young man, how much money it's going to cost you to defend yourselves against Jones Day?"

    I may not know much, but that's pretty low.

  • Re:oh yizzo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @12:10AM (#26946175) Journal
    I wonder if they have a proper license for all their software... I bet the BSA would like to know, too!
  • Re:oh yizzo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Master Control P ( 655590 ) <ejkeever@neDEBIA ... com minus distro> on Sunday February 22, 2009 @12:25AM (#26946263)
    The Streisand Effect isn't so much that one fucks up on the Internet (people do that all the time), but that one fucks with the Internet. Which then proceeds to try a hundred times harder at doing whatever you didn't want it to do.

    Do not taunt happy fun Internet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2009 @12:27AM (#26946277)

    Welcome to Chicago. We learn to deal with it.

  • by wisty ( 1335733 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @12:31AM (#26946297)

    Good point, but trademark infringement is meant to protect against domain spoofing, and RL equivalents.

    It's not just an excuse to sue someone who uses your name, right?

  • Re:oh yizzo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <slashdot@@@pitabred...dyndns...org> on Sunday February 22, 2009 @12:37AM (#26946331) Homepage
    Really? You think they're a bunch of litigous bastards? [jonesday.com] I wouldn't say that... maybe just a bunch of assholes [jonesday.com] with too much clout in the legal system, and not enough in the real world.
  • by blantonl ( 784786 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @01:09AM (#26946439) Homepage

    ..then you are bound to hit your finger.

  • Re:oh yizzo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sun ( 104778 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @02:04AM (#26946669) Homepage

    Possibly this is just an exercise in reverse psychology:

    1. Threaten and win a frivolous law suite concerning not linking to your site, thus activating the Streisand Effect.
    2. Prominent high ranking site Slashdot starts filling an article with links to you, thus upping your page rank
    3. Profit


  • Re:oh yizzo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @02:04AM (#26946671) Journal
    At least you didn't link to gay porn [jonesday.com] or child porn [jonesday.com] or beastiality [jonesday.com] or golden showers [jonesday.com] or shit-eaters [jonesday.com] or goatse.cx [jonesday.com] or any crude stuff like that...
  • by belmolis ( 702863 ) <billposer AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Sunday February 22, 2009 @02:13AM (#26946715) Homepage

    The only sense I can make of this is that Jones Day doesn't want the firm to be permanently associated with those two names. Hard to guess why. Do they have really bad reputations? Are they going to be fired soon?

  • by Dhalka226 ( 559740 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @02:29AM (#26946785)

    So, basically, here's a just saying, point blank, that he's not in the business of justice

    Why? Because he said exactly the same thing repeated day in and day out on slashdot? For saying what is not only conventional wisdom, but unarguably true? It would cost an absolute fortune to defend--even successfully--against this lawsuit. That's simple fact. After all, they're thinking about fighting a law firm. While the /. crowd loves people to expend hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight the good fight on their behalf, reality isn't nearly so kind. As it stands, they "settled" for only linking to this idiot company using its name. (In reality they'll probably just elect to not bother with them anymore.) Other than /. karma, what exactly do these guys win by financially ruining themselves to be able to do otherwise? The crapshoot chance of recovering some of that money in lawyers fees afterward? Underwhelming.

    As far as the amicus brief issue is concerned, if Ars' one-line explanation of the situation was entirely accurate then that was indeed bogus. As is so often the case, however, the reality of the situation likely can't be wrapped up quite so tidily--if for no other reason than we can't know the judge's mind. This is a preliminary hearing; a lawsuit was filed, BlockShopper asked it be tossed out, and the judge said no. *shrugs* I don't like the ruling, but I fail to see the justification in attacking the judge like that. The entire legal system is fucked up and biased toward rich litigants, and courts more often than not choose to let cases actually play out rather than tossing them right at the start. It's just the way the legal profession goes. Based on that article, we don't even know what the specific lawsuit claims were. If you dig into the settlement agreement you can see that it was "for service mark infringement, service mark dilution, false designation of origin and deceptive trade practices." All the judge has said so far is "yes, this is permitted to go to trial" and "are you really sure this is worth it to you?"

    Maybe he's a horribly biased, awful judge. Maybe he makes consistently horrible decisions. I really have no idea. There's damn sure not enough in this article for a reasonable person to make any of those claims though. If Slashdot wants to let loose the dogs of war, direct them at the party making the claims you find ridiculous. It seems to me THEY deserve the derision.

  • by Bozovision ( 107228 ) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @10:38AM (#26948385) Homepage

    Lawyers are paid for their knowledge, judgement and advice. I'm not in the market at the moment, but as an occasional purchaser of legal services, the fact that Jones Day would pursue this claim in this way indicates a lack of sound judgement. If I were looking for a lawyer, I would be thinking - "If they are as clueless about the real world as the reporting on this case suggests, in acting for themselves, then how could they be trusted to give sensible advice to others?" Jones Day have thousands of lawyers, and of course this case is one of thousands that I expect that they are currently involved in, but how could their review team have let this carry on to its conclusion? Incorrect risk analysis on their part? No risk analysis? Could reporting on this be incorrect?

    I understand that nobody enjoys information that they consider to be private to be put into the public domain, and that part of the problem is that the internet removes the half-way house that publication on paper provided - semi-public by way of obscurity - that they lacked tools to redact the information, but I'm not sure that this is a good reason for a trademark claim. Perhaps a spokesperson from Jones Day would like to give some background on their decision making and the way that they pursued their claim to provide balance to the commentary.

  • Re:oh yizzo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NewYorkCountryLawyer ( 912032 ) * <ray@NOsPam.beckermanlegal.com> on Sunday February 22, 2009 @12:23PM (#26948991) Homepage Journal

    Im surprised that blockshopper settled out of court here. I had a similar experience, with regard to unpaid domains from a place I was doing contract work for. When the bills went unpaid, I posted a link to the county courthouse that listed all the current and pending cases said company had against it. Almost a year later, I got what is best known as a "Cease and Desist" letter in the mail from an attorney. The letter claimed all sorts of things, that I was knowingly committing libel, along with trademark and copyright violations as well. The threats included if I did not comply were restraining orders, fines, and CRIMINAL charges being filed against me. So what did I do? I never responded to the letter, and I posted the letter on my website, for all to read. So now, something that had about 1-2 hits a month, went up to being seen by 10,000+ people. And the lawyer who attached himself to this attempt, is forever associated with it. You can read the incompetent attempt at a Cease and Desist Letter [demystify.info] here. The company who felt this was an ethical approach was Caton Commercial [willcounty...tcourt.com] And now, one year later, I have not heard a single response to that letter. Although, in all honesty I wish that I could have gone into a court room, and heard the lawyer who wrote that letter try to explain his case to a judge that the county was publishing libelous information by posting the schedule of its own cases online publicly.

    You did what people need to do in this society... fight back against the bullies. If you don't, the freedoms we have in our society will be gone in the blink of an eye.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2009 @12:41PM (#26949141)
    Please, please turn off nofollow for this story.
  • Re:oh yizzo (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2009 @07:07PM (#26952253)

    Hey... I was moderately amused/inspired by the first instance of this post. However, this is like the 20th damned time I've seen you post some variant of this story. Give it up already, get on w/ your life, and do like the "sorehands.com" dude did and post a link to your big life triumph in your sig, as opposed to wasting another whole post with it.

    The first time I read your story, you had my sympathies and support, and your nemesis had my contempt. Today you now come across as obsessive and I have to wonder what your motives truly are.

Forty two.