Letter From Attorney Takes Us into Realm of the Absurd

clcJust when you think you have seen everything, something comes up and just simply makes you shake your head.  Every so often we get emails from attorneys accusing us of copyright violations or other things.

In one case, attorneys for a plaintiff in a lawsuit attempted to find out information about the true identity of a poster.  That one we fought and we prevailed in court.

In another case, an attorney told us to change the name of our court watch wing, because they had “dibs” on the term “Judicial Watch.”  It was better not to fight that one.

But this one takes the cake.

Dear Sir or Madam,

The Collegiate Licensing Company is the authorized trademark licensing representative of the University of California Davis. It has recently come to the University’s attention that a user on your site is using the University’s mascot name, Gunrock, as his username. You can view a posting by “Gunrock” at the link below. The University is concerned that visitors may believe that this user is associated with the University. Would it be possible to ask this user to choose a different name?

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Sincerely,

Kortny Ficke | Online Enforcement Assistant

IMG College/The Collegiate Licensing Company

290 Interstate North Circle | Suite 200 | Atlanta, GA 30339

She gives a website that takes us to the Collegiate Licensing Company.

Are you kidding me?  My first reaction is to tell this person to go pound sand.  I mean, get over it.  No one thinks “Gunrock” is actually the California Aggie Mascot.  People are free to create whatever moniker they want here.

To answer their question, no, it would not be possible to ask this user to choose a different name.

But then I thought, you realize someone is actually paying this woman, Kortny Ficke, to do this.

I want to know who is paying her, how much she is getting, and where the money is coming from.

I sent a request to UC Davis to find out this information, but as I look at the website for the CLC, I wonder if they aren’t their own independent company that handles licensing issues for all universities.

Whatever it is, I’m sure they have better things to do with their time and money than to worry about the name under which someone posts on a local website.

Then again, maybe not.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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21 Comments

  1. rusty49

    “It has recently come to the University’s attention that a user on your site is using the University’s mascot name, Gunrock, as his username.”

    Gunrock, it’s your 15 minutes of fame. I can’t believe someone actually informed the University of this and that they forwarded it to CLC. That someone needs to get a life.

  2. Matt Williams

    BTW David, I was looking at Tuesday’s Council Agenda and couldn’t help but notice the item after the roll call.

    Item 1 5:30
    Item 2 6:00
    Item 3 6:30
    Item 4 6:40
    Roll Call Approval of Agenda
    Closed Session pursuant to Government Code §54954.5: A. Conference with Legal Counsel – Existing Litigation: People’s Vanguard of Davis,
    Inc. v. City of Davis, Yolo County Superior Court Case No. PT12-480

  3. Rifkin

    [img]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vau3A_Y39Ds/T3iFI7mfOuI/AAAAAAAAAkc/Ph21fizY768/s1600/vanguard+lawsuit+(2).jpg[/img]

    David, you are not willing to even say what the lawsuit regards? I know one of your concerns is open access to records. Is that what this lawsuit is about?

  4. Don Shor

    I’m more curious about this agenda item, and what it means:

    “B. Terms, Conditions and Understanding of Compensation for the Individual Fire Management
    Employees (City Manager Steve Pinkerton/Assistant City Manager Paul
    Navazio/Human Resources Administrator Melissa Chaney)

    Recommendation: Approve Resolution Adopting Terms, Conditions and Understanding
    of Compensation and Employment, removing Fire Management Employees
    from the Individual Management MOU and adopting separate Terms, Conditions and
    Understanding of Compensation for the Individual Fire Management Employees”

  5. David M. Greenwald

    Both Rich Rifkin and I have discussed this item. Basically there are some vacant positions in the fire department and they are creating an MOU for those positions for when they are filled – though I understand there are no plans to fill them at this time.

    The issue came up last week, Sue Greenwald wanted to have another round of discussions about the exact language.

    Because they are no employees, as I understand it, they just get to establish the MOU and it becomes a precedent for the other negotiations.

  6. roger bockrath

    [i]”I can’t believe someone actually informed the University of this and that they forwarded it to CLC. That someone needs to get a life.”[/i]

    Glad to see that the $100,000. spent by U.C. on public relations, after the pepper spray incident, is bringing them much sought after rewards. Those highly paid spin doctors don’t miss a thing. But seriously folks, it is gratifying to learn the Vanguard and the opinions of it’s commentors are actually on the U.C. administration’s radar.

    In other news, having read a great deal of what Gunrock has to say, I really can’t blame the University, or anybody else for that matter, for not wanting to be associated with his opinions. Wow, did I really say that out loud?… very politically incorrect!

  7. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]In other news, having read a great deal of what Gunrock has to say, I really can’t blame the University, or anybody else for that matter, for not wanting to be associated with his opinions. Wow, did I really say that out loud?… very politically incorrect![/quote]

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, no? Some may not care for your opinions either, but I think all would agree we would fight to the death for your right to express them!

    As for the potential trademark infringement issue, dmg, just put a disclaimer at the bottom of the Vanguard’s front page, that states:

    Disclaimer: The Vanguard does not control what username a person selects, in an effort to protect the user’s anonymity. Any opinion expressed by the user, regardless of the username chosen, is solely that of the user.

    That should take care of the problem.

  8. Rifkin

    [i]”Would those vacant positions become unnecessary if the department went to 3-person staffing?”[/i]

    No, Don, it is unrelated. The staffing model you speak of regards how many firefighters are assigned to each truck. The fire contract in question regards three currently unfilled positions: Assistant Fire Chief; Fire Division Chief (Fire Marshal); and Fire Division Chief.

    It’s not clear to me if there are any plans to fill any of these vacancies any time soon, if ever. However, as David noted, the importance of this contract is that any reforms included in it–such as how much the City will spend every year on dress uniforms for employees*–will serve as precedent for the other labor contracts, all of which expire June 30, 2012.

    One member of the City Council asked me to review the contract as it now stands. I went over all of it and found it to be excellent in most respects. (If you would like a copy of the email I sent to that person on the Council, let me know and I’ll forward it to you.)

    *I brought this issue up with the Council. Our current program is to give every firefighter plus all fire executives $2,000 every year to buy a new uniform. (We are not talking about safety equipment. Just a pair of pants, a matching shirt and maybe a tie.) That number struck me as unbelievably generous. The contract as reformed was supposed to lower that to $1,200 per year for each employee of the fire department. I told the Council in open session that $1,200 every 5 or 6 years seemed reasonable. But $1,200 every single year struck me as still far too much. (One Council member, not the one who asked me to review the contract, in a later phone call said to me “it should be zero dollars.”) That Council member won out. In the contract the Council will approve tomorrow night, the uniform allowance is removed.

  9. Rifkin

    [i]”Any opinion expressed by the user, regardless of the username chosen, is solely that of the user.”[/i]

    A sabermetric website I used to be associated with had a policy regarding usernames which prohibited two types: one, profanity; and two, names of real people, when the person with that username was not the real person named. So, being a baseball site, if someone called himself “Barry Bonds,” and he was not really Barry Bonds, the editor would disallow that username. This came up because a lot of famous athletes, team owners and managers and noted baseball writers would post on that site, and they would mostly post under their real names. So if someone came along and called himself “Rod Carew” or “Bud Selig,” the editor would check to see that really was Rod Carew or Bud Selig, and the rest of us would know the comments were actually those of the person in question.

  10. roger bockrath

    Elaine, I’m with you. We all have a right to our opinions. Although I do think that some of those expressed here are so outrageous as to be considered simply provocative. In other word I think some of the more reactionary opinions are being expressed simply to push peoples buttons.

    I’ve noticed that the folks who post five minutes after the story comes on line tend to be some of the more provocative posters.

    Nevertheless,more power to ’em. They sure do tend to get me thinking and weighing the legitimacy of my own opinions. Heaven help the poor folks who don’t have an opinion!

    Regarding the posting of a disclaimer on the vanguard: I have another solution. Just don’t allow anonymous postings. I believe that any opinion that you feel is legitimate should have your name attached. I am proud of the comments that I have posted here. No need to hide behind an alias. And, I’m pretty sure nobody has yet licensed my name.

  11. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Regarding the posting of a disclaimer on the vanguard: I have another solution. Just don’t allow anonymous postings. I believe that any opinion that you feel is legitimate should have your name attached. I am proud of the comments that I have posted here. No need to hide behind an alias. And, I’m pretty sure nobody has yet licensed my name.[/quote]

    Actually there are legitimate reasons to post anonymously. I know I cannot always be as frank as I would like to be at times because of my commission work. If one works for the city, one has to be especially careful what one says. If one has business connections, one has to be careful what one says. If one is involved with a nonprofit that is linked with other nonprofits in town, one has to be careful what one says.

    I have no problem with anonymous posters, so long as there are no personal attacks. That is where I draw the line. Argue the point, not the personality. In general, Don Shor does an excellent job of monitoring the sight, but bc he cannot monitor 24/7, occasionally some personal attacks get by him, but he usually pulls them whenever he does seem them.

    As for provocative comments, just to get a rise out of people, that is very much a part of blogging. Everyone accepts it, I think, and most of the time trolls are dealt with pretty well by other posters. But I have to say, I have learned so much on this blog. Just when I think I have things figured out, someone will bring up a thought provoking idea I had not thought of, and then I have to rethink. It sure keeps me on my toes and cogitating! And oftentimes I research issues, which is also good for the brain!

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