Saturday, November 20, 2010
I, Jeffrey Wright, was deposed by Intel Corporation as part of the process of the lawsuit against my company, Americas News Intel Publishing LLC.
In order to attend this deposition, I had to fly to the Bay Area. (The deposition took place in Menlo Park at the spanking new offices of Carr & Ferrell, one of the firms defending us.) Intel Corporation paid for half the trip. And, since it was their deposition, for the video and the court reporter, as well as the cost of having their lawyers, both internal and external, present. Billable hours, ladies and gentlemen, billable hours.
The deposition was remarkable.
And it was remarkable in that it was hugely uneventful. At this stage in the game we fully expected an aggressive deposition, a last-ditch fishing expedition to dredge up something to support their tenuous claims, and a rhetorical blitz aimed at producing a statement from me that would, in the proper twisted context, seem to work in their favor in the litigation.
But instead we had a polite and superficial discussion over coffee. The company used just over half of the time they were entitled to before packing it in. We started late morning and ended in early afternoon. We didn't even need a lunch break. One of the persons present on their side kept checking and typing into an iPad during the questioning. (Surely just taking careful notes on the deposition.)
The questions I was required to answer were, for the most part, very basic inquiries: Where did I go to high school? Where have I worked in the past? Or silly: Why I would purchase marketing lists rather than compiling them on my own? With what periodicity were the Monthly Reports produced?
The sharpest point of the deposition came at the end, when I was asked if I "hated" Intel Corporation lawyers (see the post below) and if I considered that Intel Corporation's brand policing efforts were indeed, as I had written in a blog post at some point, based on tactics similar to those employed by the Gestapo. Lawyers tend to be a very literal bunch.
As far as substantive legal queries, though, the plaintiff spent few energies.
They poked around the issue of intent, i.e. did I seek to gain advantage from using the English-language string 'intel' when I formed my company and selected the name. It is so patently clear that an intelligence business might choose 'intel' in its name or domain for prima facie reasons that we did not waste much time (or, from their perspective, shareholder money) thrashing around here.
They trotted out several examples of content from Mexico Watch newsletters in which Intel Corporation or chip-manufacturers or chip-manufacturing were mentioned in the content. The point being that we are competing in the same market. Recall that Intel Corporation is claiming to be in the newsletter business now, and so if we are both producing newsletters on microprocessors and semiconductor trends, then I could conceivably be held to be infringing or diluting. But obviously Intel Corporation is not a newsletter business, nor was Mexico Watch a technology information service. Technology is an important segment of the Mexican economy and the stories the lawyers cited during the deposition were simply part of the broader issue of foreign investment which we covered in our reporting. But we covered virtually every aspect of the economy at one time or another and mentioned thousands of companies, sectors, trends, and investments.
So the deposition ended without much to report. We bought tickets for a cage fight and saw some light sparring instead.
Why would a company who claims to be defending a $30-billion asset (the Intel brand name) from the "irreparable damage" of infringing and dilution by my company (oh, and cybersquatting) breeze casually through their single chance to directly question the company's principal? To hold me accountable? To beat a confession from me? Apparently my deposition is not relevant to their legal strategy at this point.
So what could this mean? Your guesses are as good as mine.
at 9:35 AM