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That Awesome Time I Was Sued for Two Billion Dollars 2: Trademark and Intellectual Property Claims

Jason Scott’s presentation continues with highlights of some trademark issues he ran into, and the description of the most unusual intellectual property case.

Claims by the manufacturer

Claims by the manufacturer

It turns out that the BARDEX, which is a trademark of C.R. Bard, is only to be used as urological catheter. It is not to be used in enemas (see right-hand image). Yet, for some reason, a wide variety of erotic fiction – I want to point out that I have 7,000 erotic stories on my site – that is, if someone’s going to put something into anybody else in any way to enjoy it, and I have a story in which they do it… So, it stands to reason when you have this sort of quantum sex act that eventually somebody is going to go: “I don’t like the part where you took the three ponies and the ice cream cone, went into the ice cream truck and drove into a school – that doesn’t really make me happy,” and I’m like: “Just keep going, just keep going.” So, the important thing that I want you to know is “Don’t put the urological catheter in your butt!” But more or less, what they’re really pissed off about is the fact that the people who are doing this and having these wonderful enema stories are referring to it as a BARDEX; that is to say it’s using third trademark to indicate an act for which their item shouldn’t be used. This is something that’s called the Lanham Act.

Online ad for the BARDEX

Online ad for the BARDEX

I went to the site yesterday to check up on things, by the way; and this is their ad for the BARDEX (see left-hand image). I think he’s erotic fiction, I just want to point that out. Just so that you understand what the Lanham Act is: the Lanham Act was originally created as a way of when you trademark something and put it on the site of, say, “a barrel of rum”, and then dickwad over here put mud and a little bit of lie in and called it “your rum” – he was diluting your trademark, because someone would drink it and go: “Man, this barley rum sucks!” And you would be diminished.

Well, guess what happened: it got innovated upon. So, if you want to imagine a field and then by the end of it it’s a strip mall, with an airplane landing on it and everything else – that’s what they did. At this point, indicating any untoward act in which you mention a product by name can be considered a violation of the Lanham Act. For instance, if you indicate someone should make a bomb using a specific household cleaner, which was one of my files – the household cleaner people are angry and say: “Please don’t call it a ‘our name’ bomb.” And you go: well, that sounds somewhat okay.

Indicating any untoward act in which you mention a product by name can be considered a violation of the Lanham Act.

And there’s another one where associate site of mine had a woman who was having sexual congress with a coke bottle. Well, did you know that the coke bottle’s shape is actually trademarked as a distinct thing? So, the fact that you could see it being misused in this obviously not sustainable fashion indicated the dilution of their trademark, and of course people would be like: “Wow, I get it: you shove it in your cooter!” Anyway, this is the kind of foolishness that happens. I’ve been attacked a bunch of times by font companies, because a lot of these shovelware companies would be, like: “Wow, this program doesn’t work if you don’t have this Windows font. Fine! Fuckin’ throw it on – we’re only going to sell 1,000 copies.” And then, you know, 15 years later I put it up. So, that’s what happens sometimes.

I’ve had people who mentioned to me that they uploaded a story, in anger, once, to one BBS in California in 1983, and I have it. So, all you young’uns, look out! Just saying… No one notices if I’m posting on 4chan. I just want to point this out: I have 10 million archived threads of 4chan for five years. I’ve been asked not to put it up publicly and hold it for good, and I will. And I am going to put it up. So, whatever you put up there, 20 years later some idiot like me is going to come along. I’m just saying… You’re going to be 40 and go: “Ah, fuck! He was right!”

One of the letters in the mail

One of the letters in the mail

But sometimes I get letters in the mail. And mail letters are a little more interesting because that means the person still knows how to use the mail, and that the person probably really wants me to know something. So, when you get mail that says “Evidence: Do Not Destroy”, and it lists a court case (see right-hand image), then you’ve got to spend a little time with it, because in a world where you can be sued for misusing enema equipment you might have something that’s legitimate that you have to watch out for.

The stack of legal mail written in fluent 'crazy'

The stack of legal mail written in fluent ‘crazy’

So, I started to get a lot of letters from this one individual (see left-hand image). And, as you can see, they are written in perfect “crazy”, fluent “crazy”. Yeah, notice the “Legal Mail” stamp? Just so you know it’s legal mail. It was a notification of claimed infringement, and it says here “by” person – it doesn’t mean they did the infringement, it says this is the person who “made” this (see leftmost image below). It’s Paul Andrew Mitchell. As a disclaimer, I might be completely misstating everything about Paul Andrew Mitchell, but as far as I can tell, he is a fuck.

The notification header

The notification header

'Copyright Amnesty Program'

‘Copyright Amnesty Program’

The text proper

The text proper


 

Short summary of the notification

Short summary of the notification

So, “Paul Andrew Mitchell, Author and Damaged Party, All Rights Reserved without Prejudice” – I don’t even know what that means. One of the first letters he sent me was something called “The Federal Zone” Copyright Amnesty Program (see middle image above). He started out with “Dear Neighbors”, I don’t get it. So, I understand from the way this is written here: “What the fuck does that say?” I’ve summarized it for you (see right-hand image): “Give me 25 dollars. Delete all your copies. Swear an oath you did it. I no longer allow copies of my book for free.”

I’ll go with a little more detail into “The Federal Zone”. It was a book that was written as a sold product, that is to say, he sold it on floppy disks. This was around 1994-1995. Its central thesis – I’m sorry to ruin it for you, spoiler alert – is that we exist based on some bizarre readings of the Supreme Court rulings that the only places that the federal laws truly have jurisdiction is over Washington, D.C. and a number of other federally assigned territories; and that a lot of other laws, including taxes, are not really valid. Therefore “You don’t have to pay taxes!” Signed: guy who had his bank account held for lack of paying of taxes – just in case you’re wondering what happened with the guy writing the book.
 

Read previous: That Awesome Time I Was Sued for Two Billion Dollars: Jason Scott’s Extraordinary Experience

Read next: That Awesome Time I Was Sued for Two Billion Dollars 3: Weird Legal Threats Through Mail Drops

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