Saturday, November 20, 2010


During the deposition, counsel for Intel Corporation produced a Facebook message between a personal friend and Jeffrey Wright. The attorney wanted to know, "Do you hate Intel Corporation's lawyers?" The message said as much.

You might wonder why they are going through these messages in the first place. And why they brought this point up. So do we.

How do Jeffrey Wright's personal sentiments bear on the legal issue in this case? We'll let you speculate for yourself, since we have no idea whatsoever.

But for the record, no, Jeffrey Wright not does harbor personal animosity for the individuals engaged in the prosecution of this case. Let's face it, they deserve some sympathy. They are tasked with defending a generic common English-language word as though it were private property belonging to their employer/client. (Some of the lawyers involved are in-house, others external.)

For whatever myopic reason, the company chose an English-language word as its name back in the late 1960s. Now the organization has made the collective policy decision to ignore the prior existence of the word in the public domain, and individuals in that organization are forced to act accordingly, should they wish to prosper there.

So the question is not a matter of intense personal dislike. They are probably not bad folks in their private lives, and in our experience with them they are usually cordial in speech and manner, and also very sharp dressers, be assured of that. And for whatever reason, Intel Corp. lawyers needed to hear this reassurance during the deposition. Now they can read it here, as well.

Nevertheless, Intel Corporation undeniably and inevitably generates and accrues animosity toward itself by choosing to use the legal system to steamroll small companies such as ours. Intel Corporation has a right to defend its trademark, as do all companies. But someone -- an individual, a person -- needs to stand up at some point and say: "This is wrong. We do not own this word in its generic sense. We know that, and we should not be leveraging the court systems in this way."

Sure, a systemic reform of federal trademark rules is necessary in order to curtail the trademark bullying that has become a truly endemic problem. Still, the fact remains that some companies are exploiting and abusing the system more than others, and Intel Corporation is among the worst offenders.

The individuals accepting pay in exchange for prosecuting these dark ambitions are to be pitied, not hated.

We wonder, though, how they would feel if their private Facebook conversations were demanded under litigation, scrutinized by strangers, and read for the public record? Jes' sayin'.

No comments: