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March 20, 2006 | Suw Charman Anderson

Neil Gaiman gets cease-and-desisted

Neil Gaiman, Patron of the Open Rights Group, got a rather clueless 'cease and desist' letter today:

A mysterious communication arrived via my agent. It's a letter purporting to be from a lawyer which, as far as I can tell, seems to be ordering me to take down a link to a website, without actually ever giving the actual URL of the website I am meant to have linked to. The letter also seems to be suggesting that I own or control or have something to do with a website (http://www.tomatoesareevil.com/) that I manifestly don't, as the simplest websearch or WHOIS check would tell you. In addition it talks about me infringing the trademark and copyright, by linking, of a mostly forgotten movie.
Neil's scanned the letter so you can read it in full and appreciate the astonishing professionalism shown by lawyers Branfman & Associates, (Warning! Site plays cheesy music!), who say they "focus on transactions and litigation pertaining to intellectual property", although obviously not all that well. Meantime, Cory points out on BoingBoing the exact flaws in their accusation:
Crazy, confused "lawyers" from the San Diego firm of Branfman and Associates claiming to represent the creators of the "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" movies have sent a threatening letter to Neil Gaiman, claiming that he linked to their site (he didn't) and that doing so is illegal (it isn't).
And Neil figures out the playground-level logic behind it:
[...] they have probably decided that because the people at www.tomatoesareevil.com put my photo, holding a demonic tomato, up on their site, that I own it. What an astonishingly small amount of research they must do before firing off these bizarre letters.
Ironically, Branfman & Associates are located at 12750 High Bluff Drive, which is about all this letter amounts to. Also covered by MetaFilter.

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