NYTimes Threatens NYTClean Bookmarklet Maker With Bogus Trademark Claim

from the uh,-that's-not-how-trademark-works dept

We've already mentioned NYTClean, the four-line javascript bookmarklet that lets you remove the NY Times' paywall with a single click. Apparently, the NYTimes' lawyers, with their interesting interpretation of trademark law, have threatened the creator of those four lines of code, and bullied him into changing the name to NYNewspaperClean. The NYT claims that it's not complaining about the functionality, but just the name:
I am writing concerning your “NYTClean” bookmarklet, posted at http://euri.ca/2011/03/21/get-around-new-york-times-20-article-limit/.

As you obviously know, The New York Times Company has used its ‘The New York Times’ trademark since at least as early as 1851 and today offers numerous products and services under its famous ‘The New York Times’ trademark, including its online version of The New York Times at the URL NYTimes.com, and various blogs and electronic media products. NYTCo’s NYTimes.com website receives over 15,000,000 unique visitors each month. NYTCo owns numerous registrations for its ‘The New York Times’ trademark in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Canadian Trade-Marks Office and these trademarks are among the company’s most valuable assets.

We object to your use of our famous "NYT" trademark in connection with your application and your promotion thereof, which constitutes trademark dilution and trademark infringement under U.S. and Canadian trademark law.

Accordingly, we ask that you immediately cease use of the "NYT" trademark in connection with this application. This email is without prejudice to any action that may be necessary to protect the valuable rights of NYTCo in its intellectual property.
This is trademark abuse. There is no confusion here. No one using the NYTClean bookmarklet thinks that it's endorsed by the NY Times. No moron in a hurry is going to be confused into believing it's a product of the NY Times. The trademark that the company has on the NY Times does not give the company total control over NYT. It only allows them to stop situations where there is clear confusion or dilution, neither of which are likely here. This is just a form of trademark bullying.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Apr 1st, 2011 @ 2:41pm

    Easy fix:

    Just search for "Formerly NYTClean"

     

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    Markus Hopkins (profile), Apr 1st, 2011 @ 2:58pm

    I'm not totally sure it's clear cut.

    I think the action was unwarranted, but let's say I'm a moron. Let's say I'm in a hurry. Let's say I see an article title about "New York Times Clean." I can see myself thinking, oh, they're putting out a "clean" version now? If I'm a naîve moron in a hurry, I might just want that. Oh! Maybe that's what they could have done with the 40 mil! A bookmarklet that edits out all of the unhappy news from every story! See, that's a potential product, so they clearly needed to defend their mark.

     

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    JC, Apr 1st, 2011 @ 2:59pm

    Told ya that most of that $40 million was for lawyers.

     

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    lavi d (profile), Apr 1st, 2011 @ 3:06pm

    NYT Already

    .
    I NYT noticed that you NYT kept using NYT in your NYT post.

    How many NYT times do you NYT think you can use NYT on your site before NYT sends you an NYT cease and NYT desist, NYT trademark dilution NYT nastygram?

     

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    Ron Rezendes (profile), Apr 1st, 2011 @ 3:36pm

    Disagree....

    I disagree with you on this one, Mike. It would seem entirely plausible that a program with NYT in the title that is devised to work on the NYT website, would imply to many to be an NYT authorized program. It really isn't that far fetched to think so IMHO.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2011 @ 5:16pm

      Re: Disagree....

      Oh, sure. A bookmarklet that lets you bypass the NYT paywall. Everyone's going to think that came from the NYT. They spent $20 million on the paywall, and the other $20 million on four lines of javascript that let you bypass it.

       

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    holeinthewall (profile), Apr 1st, 2011 @ 3:59pm

    Look, a feed of links to the Now Yerk Tames:

    https://twitter.com/timeswiretap

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2011 @ 10:01pm

    Moron in a Hurry

    I think I got it. They only hire morons and make them hurry in the legal department. Everything is infringement for the rushed Morons. Of course how you get through law school and pass the bar with an IQ of 70 to 80 is another matter.

     

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    G Thompson (profile), Apr 2nd, 2011 @ 12:27am

    I always thought NYT stood for New York Twits.

    Seems I was not mistaken

     

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    Any Mouse (profile), Apr 2nd, 2011 @ 1:56am

    Billable Hours

    Come on, we all know this has nothing to do with trademark and everything to do with fattening that big ol' check the lawyers intend on getting from the NYT.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2011 @ 7:50am

    NYTCo is just the company name. It had nothing to do with the Trademark 'The New York Times' NYT is not the trademark and I would have let them know that. Bullies! They sound like bullies and besides they're from New York and like who gives a damn about New York. The socialist state. Right next to Washington DC and the other socialist Wazoos. I won't even go to New York! What a nightmare place.

     

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    Karl (profile), Apr 2nd, 2011 @ 11:47am

    Slightly inaccurate

    The "four lines of JavaScript" part - though widely quoted in the media - is slightly inaccurate.

    The bookmarklet is just four lines of JavaScript. However, all it does is create a link to a script called "nyt.js" on euri.ca. That script is actually about 30 lines long.

    But there's no question he wrote it on his lunch break. I took a look at the code, and it's really basic, script-kiddie stuff. There must be dozens of ways to get around the paywall.

    By the way, you missed the best part of the article:
    For his part, David Hayes says he plans to comply with the Times’ request and rename the script to something like NYNewspaperClean. But he also says the Times missed an opportunity:

    "I’m a big fan of the newspaper in question; I would’ve taken the page down in exchange for a manila envelope with leftover detritus from Bill Safire‘s old desk."

     

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    hmm (profile), Apr 2nd, 2011 @ 3:35pm

    why not

    call it "PRSFTTONY"..paywall removal system for the times of new york!

     

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