Epic Response To A Bogus Cease And Desist Letter: Bravo For Your Legal Satire!

from the how-it's-done dept

Cross-posted from

In case you don’t know by now, many lawyers — maybe even you — enjoy writing cease and desist letters in a foreign language called legalese. This exotic tongue often contains Latin phrases, SAT vocabulary words, and various here-and-there words (e.g., herein, heretofore, hereinafter, hereunder, thereof, thereto, therewith, thereunder, therefor, thereon, and therefrom).

A person unfamiliar with legalese may become frightened and run to another attorney for help in deciphering this mystical language of lawyerly legend. The lawyer who has been tasked with translating legalese to English may then become annoyed, and issue a scathingly funny letter in return.

For an example of how to write a great response to a cease and desist letter, keep reading…

Jake Freivald, a resident of West Orange, New Jersey who once ran for town council and lost, started westorange.info, a rudimentary website that provides basic information about the town, like “places to talk [online]” and “places to get news.” It doesn’t look like a site that’s sponsored by West Orange in any way, shape, or form — unless the town hired middle schoolers to create its online presence.

That said, not long after he started the site, Freivald received a demand letter from Richard D. Trenk, the township attorney for West Orange (and an alum of my alma mater). Here is Trenk’s cease and desist letter (retyped online by Freivald, who added sics where necessary to indicate errors in the original):

Dear Mr. Freivald:

I am the Township Attorney for the Township of West Orange (“Township”). It has come to our attention that, on or about May 13, 2013, you registered and began to use the domain name “westorange.info” (the “Info Domain”). The Township interprets this action as an effort by you to confuse and conflate the Township’s official domain name and Web site with the Info Domain that you maintain.

The use of the Township’s name is unauthorized and is likely to cause confustion [sic], mistake or to deceive the public and may be a violation of the Township’s federally protected rights. The Info Domain falsely creates the impression that the Township is associated or affiliated with the Info Domain. At a minimum, this action has been taken with constructive knowledge of the Township’s name and Web site, and constitutes bad faith use of the Info Domain.

Accordingly, the Township demands that you cease and desist from use, ownership and maintenance of the Info Domain. The Township further demands that, within ten (10) days, the Info Domain be withdrawn from the current registrar, and that you cease all current and future use of the Info Domain, or anything else confusingly similar thereto.

The Township reserves all rights and remedies.

Please be guided accordingly.

Very truly yours,

Richard D. Trenk, Township Attorney

We hope you didn’t get “confusted” by that. Freivald’s lawyer, Stephen B. Kaplitt — formerly of Weil Gotshal, Cadwalader, the U.S. State Department, and Beacon Financial — wasn’t, and it looks like he was “guided accordingly” (don’t you hate that phrase?) when he penned this fantastic response:

My favorite line: “So that I may properly counsel my client, please also explain what in Sam Hill’s name you meant by ‘anything else confusingly similar thereto.’” What an epic letter. Bravo, Mr. Kaplitt!

My Cease-and-Desist Letter [West Orange, NJ Forum]
My attorney’s response to the cease-and-desist letter [West Orange, NJ Forum]



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Rikuo (profile), Jun 20th, 2013 @ 11:09am

    LOL moment for me of the century! Now, this lawyer deserves to have a statue next to Otis D. Wright.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Jun 20th, 2013 @ 11:21am

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! Epic response! I spent most of it laughing with tears in my eyes!!

    Now, I think he was mean when he said nobody reads the playground use rules. Come on! Those rules are saner and written in plain English in contrast with any other laws in the US =/

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 11:40am

    As pointed out by Kevin Underhill at lowering the bar, the best reply to a baseless legal complaint remains:

    "Attached is a letter that we received [...]. I feel that you should be aware that some asshole is signing your name to stupid letters. Very truly yours [...]"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 11:45am

    Count this as another vote for, “So that I may properly counsel my client, please also explain what in Sam Hill’s name you meant by ‘anything else confusingly similar thereto,’” as the best line.

    Bonus points for the use of "Sam Hill's name.“So that I may properly counsel my client, please also explain what in Sam Hill’s name you meant by ‘anything else confusingly similar thereto.’”"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 11:46am

    doesn't happen very often, given the content of Techdirt, but this actually made me laugh! well done to those concerned, herein, therein, thereout etc etc.

     

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    Rich Fiscus (profile), Jun 20th, 2013 @ 11:51am

    This reminds me of the famous letter a lawyer for the Cleveland Browns wrote to a season ticket holder who complained about other fans throwing paper airplanes and threatened to sue the team in the event one hit him in the eye:
    I feel that you should be aware that some asshole is signing your name to stupid letters.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 11:58am

    By contrast, my client's rudimentary website (cost: $3.17, free hosting) is so minimalist that it arguably qualifies as modern art.


    Gold!

     

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      Donglebert the Needlessly Obtuse, Jun 21st, 2013 @ 5:02am

      Even better, imo

      "Jake swears that was his actual cost. Looking at his website, I believe him."

       

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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 12:00pm

    Hutzpah

    "After all, as lawyers you and I both know that would be flagrantly unconstitutional and would also, in the words of my 4-year old, make you a big meanie."

    Here is my vote to replace the attribution Esq.(for Esquire) with 'Big Meanie', as in Attorney Fullofbluster, Esq. would be Attorney Fullofbluster, Big Meanie.

    Accuracy is Important, isn't it?

     

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    BentFranklin (profile), Jun 20th, 2013 @ 12:04pm

    Multiple, LOLs, literally!

    Alas, the PS and PPS were sketchy.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 1:19pm

      Re:

      The PS and PSS were probably fully satirical given that is his overarching theme of the letter.

      As far as I could find out Joe Krakoviak is a council-member from a grassroot movement against corruption in the Township and the BA for the Township, Jack Sayers, has been indicted for nepotism.

       

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    sehlat (profile), Jun 20th, 2013 @ 12:12pm

    My Take On the Response Letter

    It is so awesome that arguably it qualifies as modern art.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 2:25pm

      Re: My Take On the Response Letter

      Actually since the response is a stinging deconstruction of the legal letter, it's totally Po-Mo. At least that's what the guy behind me at Starbucks with the iPad and the soul patch keeps telling me.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 12:24pm

    Please, please, please Techdirt - follow this one!

    Please (did I say, please?) follow this story, in particular the response from the twonship!

    That response from Stephen Kaplitt is just. plain. AWESOME!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 1:18pm

    This just raised my hope for humanity, if some where a lawyer is willing to "bitch" slap another one of their brothers for being legally dishonest and say it plain as day... I must have hope he will teach it so that it may become the norm...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 1:19pm

    Both the website and linked forum have crashed and died under the weight of the internet's regard. Whoops.

     

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    Ben (profile), Jun 20th, 2013 @ 1:30pm

    Epic!

    +1 even

    But: how in Sam Hill's name does one register a .info domain name for $3.17?
    Oh, and just to play along, had you intended for your letter to be taken seriously, even in some small measure, we would have sent in response something along the following lines:
    A classic response intro!
    To paraphrase the bar exam instructions, feel free to cite any authority you consider relevant, including Federal, state, or local laws, rules, regulations, ordinances, etc.
    Which would help if he had ever seen a bar exam; I must say that I have my doubts.

    If I ever need the help of an attorney in New Jersey, I will try to seek out Mr Kaplitt. Bravo!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2013 @ 12:24am

      Re: Epic!

      But: how in Sam Hill's name does one register a .info domain name for $3.17?


      That's not the registration fee, that's the cost for designing his site.

      Along those lines, my favorite line is: "Jake swears that was his actual cost. Looking at the site, I believe him."

       

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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Jun 20th, 2013 @ 1:38pm

    Legalese?

    OK, what's so difficult to understand about that C&D letter? I'm not a lawyer and I have no formal training in law whatsoever, and I had no trouble understanding it. It was pretty plainly worded IMO.

     

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    Rekrul, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 2:05pm

    I'm curious: Why is the PDF version of the letter written in normal English, while the text version appears to be written in an old English dialect?

     

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      Watchit (profile), Jun 20th, 2013 @ 2:18pm

      Re:

      My only guess is that whatever software converts the pdf image to text is having trouble deciphering the letter since it has such a low resolution. So you have lots of places where there is an "o" but the software see's an "e" or some such similar situation.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 7:35pm

      Re:

      Probably a conversion PDF to text problem.

      PDFs actually are images, and to make them searchable they have a text underneath which is parsed using special codes, depending on the version of Adobe tools or converter it gets those codes wrong.

      I think.

       

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        Leigh Beadon (profile), Jun 20th, 2013 @ 8:04pm

        Re: Re:

        PDFs actually are images, and to make them searchable they have a text underneath which is parsed using special codes, depending on the version of Adobe tools or converter it gets those codes wrong.

        I think.


        Not quite -- PDFs can contain all sorts of stuff (images, actual text, vector shapes, embedded fonts, and anything else supported by the PostScript format plus some extra stuff) but only a PDF properly exported from the source document will include real text (e.g. machine-readable, copy-pastable text). This doc looks to be a scan that someone simply saved as a PDF -- basically no different from some jpegs -- so in order to create text the embedding service is attempting optical character recognition. Normally we turn off text conversion on such PDFs because it rarely works well -- but I guess we forgot to here.

        Anyway, your answer was functionally correct, but that's my The-More-You-Know fact about PDFs for the day :)

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 2:46pm

    Love how he explains how the town can avoid any confustion by simply getting the .gov domain.

     

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    Wolfy, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 2:52pm

    + 10 internets!!!!!!!!!!!

     

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    Jake, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 4:46pm

    It doesn’t look like a site that’s sponsored by West Orange in any way, shape, or form — unless the town hired middle schoolers to create its online presence.

    Well, that'd be one way of getting to brag about giving your custom to the homegrown IT industry while still getting to go with the low bidder.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 4:55pm

    I have a feeling someone is about to get Mecha-Streisanded.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 8:31pm

    that is epic!!

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 8:38pm

    See the link that Mike is so ashamed of that he's trying to censor it--just like a Chinese dictator: http://pastebin.com/5VUv7utm

     

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    totalz (profile), Jun 20th, 2013 @ 11:53pm

    Best of the week...

    Can wait to see the response from R.D.Trenk!

     

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    Stephanie McManus, Jun 25th, 2013 @ 5:37pm

    C&D letter

    Absolutely Brilliant! Hopefully more people will see that lawyers also have a sense of humour.

     

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