Dear Mr. Grumman:
I had used an Avis trademark on September 17th to discuss a decision holding the Graves Amendment unconstitutional. That amendment, which I believe Avis fought for, granted immunity to car rental and leasing companies from state laws that would hold them vicariously liable when the renters/lessors were negligent and injured someone.
On October 23rd you wrote to me on behalf of Avis in the comments section of that post, to complain about my use of the Avis trademark, which is shown here in the upper, right corner.
So here is my response. I do it publicly, since that is how you chose to contact me.
In writing this blog and engaging in citizen-journalism, I often use the trademarks of companies when discussing their news. That seems to be a pretty clear First Amendment right.
In your letter to me you sought to trump my First Amendment right when you wrote:
We have the greatest respect for your right to express your opinions on your blog, but that does not include the right to use Avis’ trademark as you have done in this particular piece.
Understandably, trademark law is not within your area of expertise. Therefore, we trust that this was done out of ignorance and not based on an intent to misuse our mark to the benefit of your personal injury practice.
We ask that you remove it immediately and refrain from any similar use in the future.
Having thought about the issue, and discussed it privately with some, and seen public comment from others (see the comments section here, as well as at Trademark Law, 43(B)log, and Bill McGeveran), I am at a loss to figure out exactly how your trademark claim trumps my free speech rights. Since, as you believe, trademark law is not within my area of expertise, and that I am simply ignorant, perhaps now is the time for you to set forth exactly how and why I should surrender my constitutional rights to your company.
So send me a proper cease and desist letter. Set forth for me with specificity your claims of legal superiority. You now have the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and analysis in this arena since I, as you indicate, am simply too ignorant to know it myself.
Until you do that, however, I will assume your threat is an empty attempt to bully and intimidate. And so, the mark remains on my original post.
(Just a simple personal injury attorney, not a trademark law guru)
P.S. I note that your trademark is now popping up on other legal blogs, so you might want to consider sending cease and desist letters to other attorneys as well.
Links to this post:
ladybugs on my mind
[sccl] i did not go to bed planning to think — much less write — about ladybugs today. but a segment of naturewatch, which was playing in the background on my local public radio station this morning has placed that famous genus of …posted by David Giacalone @ November 13, 2007 12:46 PM
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it’s turning out to be a bit of an ip week… bill mcgeveran reports on avis, the car hire people, and their utterly unreasonable legal letters to blogger eric turkewitz (of the ny personal injury blog, mentioned in my blawg review …posted by Daithí @ October 30, 2007 1:22 PM
avis contests law blogger’s fair use of logo
last month, law blogger eric turkewitz of the new york personal injury law blog published this post about a judicial decision overturning a federal statute that’s relevant to liability of rental car companies. …posted by William McGeveran @ October 29, 2007 2:07 PM