West Orange, NJ Forum

General Category => Town Government => Topic started by: Jake Freivald on May 26, 2013, 06:01:17 PM

Title: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Jake Freivald on May 26, 2013, 06:01:17 PM
I got this as registered mail from Richard Trenk, the town attorney, yesterday. I had to retype it, so any errors not noted with [sic] may be mine. The formatting is slightly different. The PDF that they sent me by email is also attached so you can see it for yourself.

I offer it without comment, at least for the moment.

[Update: It occurs to me that this is really a cease-and-desist letter, not an order, because it's not from a judge. Some guy wrote me a letter with demands. The guy just happens to be the town attorney. So I've changed the title from "Order" to "Letter".]

[Update: I responded to this letter at the Town Council meeting of June 11. The text can be found here (http://localforums.org/westorange/forum/index.php?topic=85) and the video can be found here (http://localforums.org/westorange/forum/index.php?topic=85.msg679#msg679).]

[Update: My attorney finally responded to the letter here (http://localforums.org/westorange/forum/index.php?topic=101.0).]



May 23,2013
 
VIA E-MAIL (jdfreivald@gmail.com)
CERTIFIED MAIL, AND FIRST-CLASS MAIL
 
Mr. Jeff [sic] Freivald
10 Ridgeview Avenue
West Orange, New Jersey 07052
 
   Re: Demand to Cease and Desist From Use of Westorange.info Domain Name
 
Dear Mr. Freivald:
 
I am the Township Attorney for the Township of West Orange ("Township"). It has come to our attention that, on or about May 13, 2013, you registered and began to use the domain name "westorange.info" (the "Info Domain"). The Township interprets this action as an effort by you to confuse and conflate the Township's official domain name and Web site with the Info Domain that you maintain.
 
The use of the Township's name is unauthorized and is likely to cause confustion [sic], mistake or to deceive the public and may be a violation of the Township's federally protected rights. The Info Domain falsely creates the impression that the Township is associated or affiliated with the Info Domain. At a minimum, this action has been taken with constructive knowledge of the Township's name and Web site, and constitutes bad faith use of the Info Domain.
 
Accordingly, the Township demands that you cease and desist from use, ownership and maintenance of the Info Domain. The Township further demands that, within ten (10) days, the Info Domain be withdrawn from the current registrar, and that you cease all current and future use of the Info Domain, or anything else confusingly similar thereto.
 
The Township reserves all rights and remedies.
 
Please be guided accordingly.
 
Very truly yours,
 
Richard D. Trenk, Township Attorney


Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: WO-StatusQuo on May 26, 2013, 06:57:42 PM
I saw your post on that other forum!  I responded over there but, since the thread will be deleted soon, I'll put it here, too. :)
"Interesting concept ...

I hope they also go after http://www.westorangetax.com. My elderly neighbors have been sending checks for their quarterly payments to Dillard St in Winter Garden, FL. Talk about confusion, eh?

If someone in West Orange, FL had registered the (available) domain, what would Mr. Trenk have done? I think what he needs to do, is to realize that West Orange, FL has willfully registered HIS domainname for the sole purpose of diverting our tax revenues into their own coffers - it's shameful!

The taxpayers should insist that their social media, Web 2.0, gurus spend whatever tax monies are necessary to snap up any, and all, postible domainnames containing "westorange". We wouldn't want any confusion or conflation to happen on OUR watch."
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: KG on May 26, 2013, 07:05:21 PM
There happens to be a domainname http://www.westorangeinfo.com - the owner is in the business of selling real estate.  Should I assume the the township is in the business of selling houses around town?  Will someone be confused by that?  What was the person who registered such a domain name thinking?  What were his "willful" motives?

Are there federally protected rights around a city's name?  How many towns/cities name "Springfield" exist around the country?  This seems to be much ado about nothing.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Paul on May 27, 2013, 05:50:50 AM
Wow, just wow. I can't even begin to wonder the real reasons behind this letter. Maybe the town should Hire Judge Stein again to defend Mr. Trenks questionable business deals. Any attorneys willing to help in this domain name fight?
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Jake Freivald on May 27, 2013, 08:55:19 AM
Almost 400 people have read the letter now, about 300 of them coming from links that I've posted in various spots. Not bad. Transparency means, in part, making sure that people know what was sent.

Wow, just wow. I can't even begin to wonder the real reasons behind this letter.

The "why", on the other hand, has not been disclosed to me, though I have my suspicions.

It has been a very funny couple of weeks with respect to people sending stuff that looks like it's designed to intimidate.

Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: MsSumida on May 27, 2013, 09:18:15 AM
What a complete waste of time and money for the town.  How could anyone mistake that one page website with links, that is clearly not an official re-creation of the town website is beyond me.  There are no logos, no seals, no pictures and no masthead announcing it as a township owned page.

If that web domain is so important to the overall well being to WO's Internet presence, let the township buy it. 

Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Bert Peronilla on May 29, 2013, 01:37:22 PM
I quote from the subject letter:   "The Info Domain falsely creates the impression that the Township is associated or affiliated with the Info Domain."

I perused many entries on this site and did not get the impression that the Township is associated or affiliated with this site.   It seems no different than the West Orange Patch or other sites with similar names.   Just my humble opinion.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Jake Freivald on May 29, 2013, 04:38:04 PM
No comment.

What's in a name? A lot with NewYork.com
In the age of apps and social media does anyone care about URLs anymore? A Florida businessman hopes to piggyback on the Big Apple brand. He's relaunching NewYork.com this week.

BY MATT CHABAN
MAY 29, 2013 11:03 A.M.

Tourists have Trip Advisor and telecharge, Airbnb and Open Table, the age-old New York Times and thousands of nifty apps. So can a franchise based out of Florida become the homepage for the Big Apple's 55 million annual visitors, not to mention its 8 million residents? That's Brett Reizen's hope for NewYork.com, which he's re-launching Wednesday.

Mr. Reizen's firm, Entertainment Benefits Group, acquired the rights to the URL last year for a sum he would not disclose, except to say it was "substantial." Ever since, he has been redesigning the site and hiring a team of a dozen writers, with many more on contract, to create what Mr. Reizen hopes will not only be the top destination for theater and tour tickets—the site's old turf, as well as EBG's specialty—but also restaurant reviews and hotel reservations, even real estate and job listings.

Read more (http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20130529/TECHNOLOGY/130529880)
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: WO4Trump on May 29, 2013, 05:55:47 PM
The Township interprets this action as an effort by you to confuse and conflate the Township's official domain name and Web site with the Info Domain that you maintain.
 
The use of the Township's name is unauthorized and is likely to cause confustion [sic], mistake or to deceive the public and may be a violation of the Township's federally protected rights. The Info Domain falsely creates the impression that the Township is associated or affiliated with the Info Domain.

In an effort to address Mr. Trenk's concerns of cofustion [sic], mistake or decption, or to confuse or conflate anyone I would suggest further clarifying that the purpose of the site in the opening page where it currently says "West Orange Info - Information about West Orange, NJ." and clarify it as a discussion board for the residents of West Orange not maintained or associated with the township in any way other than by the common bond most of us share as taxpaying residents.  The fact that there are a number of links to the sites maintained by the township prominently displayed should have already addressed his concerns. 

Did Mr. Trenk visit the site and look at it before he sent his letter or did he just take Gary's whining and complaining and shoot out a letter which appears not to have been proof read?
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Jake Freivald on May 29, 2013, 07:55:06 PM
Perhaps, without commenting on the specifics of this case, it's worth noting that a remedial plan is only needed if there's something to remediate.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Bert Peronilla on May 29, 2013, 08:46:58 PM
Although doing nothing is an option, you can put this issue to bed by adding a disclaimer on the banner page which states "This forum is not associated or affiliated with the Township."   EOD.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Jake Freivald on May 29, 2013, 09:51:29 PM
That would not comply with the letter, so whether or not it would put the issue to bed is an open question at this point.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Paul on May 29, 2013, 11:31:20 PM
Since you broke no copyright law, the letter can be tossed in the trash. It's not an order. as you said, it's merely an attempt to scare you into removing the url. Trenk should look to previous cases and the outcomes, before he uses scare tactics. The town has no basis and you infringed on nothing.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Suefreivald on May 29, 2013, 11:37:25 PM
For me, the question is: why would the Town attorney send this? What was he hoping to accomplish, and why? 
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Bert Peronilla on May 30, 2013, 03:23:46 PM
Jake, you wrote: "That would not comply with the letter, so whether or not it would put the issue to bed is an open question at this point."

Comply with WHAT????    You legally registered "Westorange.info" and nobody can force you to unregister it.   If you take the advice of Westorangevoice and my advice to simply add the disclaimer that your forum is not associated or affiliated with the Township's web site, then you have addressed Mr. Trenk's assertion about the perceived "confusion." 
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: KG on May 30, 2013, 03:55:11 PM
The "10 day" clock is ticking! :)  If it's business days, then next Friday, June 7th will be the deadline.  If it's calendar days, then the drop-dead day is Tuesday, the 4th (?).  This is so exciting; I wonder what Trenk's next move will be.  No matter what he does, he's not going to come out looking good and neither will whoever started this tempest in a teapot. 

Did anybody contact our forum administrator unofficially (by phone, for example) to make an objection or was the C&D from the lawyer (at taxpayer expense, btw) the first inkling that the Township has a problem with our - "the little people's" - domain name?
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Jake Freivald on May 30, 2013, 04:54:02 PM
Bert, please assume that everything below is hypothetical, but based on a letter similar to the one I received.

I understand what you're saying. If a site owner thought that there was the possibility of confusion, it might be remediated in the way you describe.

However, if the letter doesn't demand that the site owner remediate, but rather demands the owner stop using the domain and deregister it, then putting a disclaimer at the top doesn't satisfy the demands of the C&D letter. Since legal action is threatened with respect to ownership and maintenance of the domain, the threat of that legal action would still exist even after the remediation had occurred.

Moreover, what if the site owner thought that there was no need for any remediation whatsoever -- that, say, the letter was either thuggish foolishness or foolish thuggery? Then it might be bad to take this putatively remedial step: After all, if the page owner did something to mitigate the town's complaint, that might be taken as a sign that he thinks the town has a point. Then, if the town is merely being foolish, they could claim that they were right all along and that the site owner should comply with the rest of the demands of the letter; and if the town is being thuggish, they could continue to thuggishly demand that the site owner comply with the rest of the demands of the letter. Either way, unneeded remediation seems to be a losing move for the site owner.

Therefore, if the page owner doesn't think the town has a point, he shouldn't comply at all while this threat is looming over him. Only when the town has written a formal retraction of its demands should the site owner make concessions (if he wants to), whether they are really needed to avoid confusion or whether they are provided for the sake of "getting along".

Does that make more sense?
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Jake Freivald on May 30, 2013, 04:55:40 PM
KG, the C&D was the first contact I had from the town on this issue.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Bert Peronilla on May 30, 2013, 06:34:21 PM
Jake, putting the disclaimer that your forum is not associated nor affiliated with the Township’s web site is not giving in to Trenk’s demands.   It removes the perceived motive that you are trying to confuse the public that your forum is connected to the official Township web site.

The Township’s web site has a copyright caveat – “All content © 2006-2013 West Orange, NJ and its representatives. All rights reserved.”   The following are filed Trademarks:   west orange nj, west orange patch, west orange public schools, west orange high school, and a few others.   I assume the Township has filed the west orange nj trademark.
 
Your westorange.info has “Information about West Orange, NJ.”   I am not a lawyer, but the issue about the confusion is in the use of West Orange, NJ in both web sites.   The use of West Orange, NJ by the public is not illegal.    I use it all the time in the return address of my letters, etc., but I am not causing any confusion, so Trenk has no issue with me.

I hope you will try putting the disclaimer and let’s see what Trenk says.   Depending on how far this goes, I may even bring this up with Mayor Parisi.   I just had a nice meeting with him last Thursday.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Jake Freivald on May 30, 2013, 06:44:52 PM
The following are filed Trademarks:   west orange nj...  I assume the Township has filed the west orange nj trademark.

If it has, it has been or will be rejected. No one has copyright or trademark of place names. If they truly claim to have trademarked "west orange nj", it's laughable.

This maybe a good time to note that there's a fully functioning website up at http://westorangenj.com -- much more sophisticated than my little single-page site. One might ask, has the town sent them a cease-and-desist letter? If not, why not, and why send one to me? If so, why are they still in operation?

Quote
Depending on how far this goes, I may even bring this up with Mayor Parisi.   I just had a nice meeting with him last Thursday.

I think it would be excellent if you did. The mayor is generally a personable man; I don't understand his approach or motivations in this case.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: KG on May 30, 2013, 07:38:03 PM
This maybe a good time to note that there's a fully functioning website up at http://westorangenj.com -- much more sophisticated than my little single-page site.

That site seems to be "parked" and for sale at the moment.  I hope Trenk or Glicker's guy snaps it up before there's any more "confustion" than we have now.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Jake Freivald on May 30, 2013, 07:50:43 PM
I'm sorry, I meant http://westorangenj.net.

The fact that westorangenj.com is "parked" means that it's already owned by someone: according to networksolutions.com/whois, if I'm reading right, it's to a private seller who is in the business of selling domain names. 
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: WO-StatusQuo on May 30, 2013, 07:56:44 PM
That site [westorangenj.com] seems to be "parked" and for sale at the moment.  I hope Trenk or Glicker's guy snaps it up before there's any more "confustion" than we have now.

Estibot prices it at $1300 while URLappraisal says $54.  It appears that the <dot>info (outlaw) domain is pegged at $75 and $46 at Estibot and URLappraisal, respectively.   I suspect that the longer we can hold it and drive traffic to it, the higher those estimates might go.  Let's get busy linking it up on all the SEO sites. :)
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: WO-StatusQuo on May 30, 2013, 08:06:29 PM
I'm sorry, I meant http://westorangenj.net.

The fact that westorangenj.com is "parked" means that it's already owned by someone: according to networksolutions.com/whois, if I'm reading right, it's to a private seller who is in the business of selling domain names.

I find myself to be, personally, more "confusted" by "westorangenj.net" than by westorange.info.  That maplewood online dude is willfully and recklessly touting his site as the definitive site for INFO about West Orange, NJ (our fair city).  The audacity is mind boggling.  Alert Trenk.  This has to be stopped.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: jerryjliu on May 31, 2013, 02:07:43 AM
There is also a West Orange, Texas.  Why don't you fill your site with information about that West Orange?  ;)

Jerry
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Bert Peronilla on June 04, 2013, 01:35:22 PM
Jake, I quote from Mr. Trenk’s letter to you: “The Township further demands that, within ten (10) days, the Info Domain (westorange.info) be withdrawn from the current registrar, and that you cease all current and future use of the Info Domain, or anything else confusingly similar thereto.”

When I go to “westorange.info”, I see: “Heard about the cease-and-desist letter?
The Trenk Law Firm sent me a Cease-and-desist letter on behalf of the town, demanding that I stop owning or using the westorange.info domain.

Since the ten days have come and gone, I take this to be quite an effective response to Mr. Trenk’s assertion that your westorange.info domain could be mistaken by the public to be “associated or affiliated” with the Township’s web site.  You have used Mr. Trenk’s letter to debunk his claim.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Jake Freivald on June 04, 2013, 01:39:12 PM
Interesting point. That wasn't the plan, but it certainly has that effect. I like the way you think. :)
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: mmeyerowitz on June 12, 2013, 03:05:27 PM
1. Trenk needs to justify his billable hours or fees by "doing something."
2. Can he reference a case in which someone was actually confused by the website? Did the town get a complaint?
3. The citizens own the town and its name. JF is a citizen and is entitled to use the name. They work for us, we don't work for them.
4. This is political retribution against Jake and all those who oppose the current administration, esp. re: the downtown redevelopment fiasco. This letter is simply and attempt to silence the critics.
5. This letter is an example of the new modern "totalitarianism" employed by despotic administrations.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Swinson on June 19, 2013, 09:51:06 AM
As the Webmaster for the Town of Richmond in MA, I have to say I find the C&D quite humorous and ill conceived. We have a domain, richmondma.org which is the official website for our small town. It is hosted by a company that does "Government websites" and has a bunch of templates that makes it easy for a limited number of staff to make needed changes.
Our domain is richmondma.org we have a "squatter" at richmondma.com, it basically is an "advert" site. Now I say "squatter" in that they actually registered their domain first, so in reality we are the squatter.

Now I don't think they care and I can tell you we don't care who sits next to our domain or if they make money off of adverts for businesses in MA and the like. It is not our place to limit free speech nor do we have any real rights to limit content that might tangentially or even directly discuss our town. As a parent and a town official I would be a bit upset if someone squatted an adult site using alike domain name, but even still I don't think there is a legal remedy. I am pretty sure geographic location is not protected, but even if it were I don't see a level of confusion here that would make one think the site is in anyway an official government site. I see not city or town seal, I think most web users (even seniors) would find none of the information present that would indicate in being an "official" site (tax payments, city phone numbers, assessing data, GIS data etc.) Further would all cities and towns be subject to a who registered it first, leaving the hundreds of other cities and towns name Richmond out in the cold or subject to C&D letters? I am certainly not a lawyer and I am in no way trying to give you legal advice but I can't see this as being a reasonable use of Town Counsels time and effort and it seems in very bad form to try and C&D bully someone into giving up their domain.
These opinions are mine, they do not represent an official position of my municipality but please know if you lived in Richmond, MA we would be fine with a richmond.info website...sadly someone already has it and it is more about Richmond, VA...oh well.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: LakerInBama on June 21, 2013, 07:04:00 AM
Jake,
  Your counsel's response was hilarious but your performance at the town meeting was phenomenal! Surely, FoxNews is covering this. I patiently await the township's response to your and your attorney's very thoughtfully prepared questions regarding the implied (my word) threats as to their remedies. Hopefully, that Big Meanie will wish you well in your endeavors and cut you a royalty check for highlighting the positive attributes of your and his town!

Kenin
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Jake Freivald on June 21, 2013, 11:35:02 AM
Thanks for taking the time to register and comment, Kenin and Swinson. Kenin, thanks for noticing the town council discussion. That was before I had even discussed the situation with Steve.

The next council meeting is Tuesday. Video will be out a few days after that.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Exit14 on June 21, 2013, 01:56:07 PM
(moved from wrong topic - sorry about that!)

re: traffic - you've also been "Slashdotted"!   congrats (until your server crashes, that is)

I enjoyed your story, especially the exchange between the lawyers.   I'm familiar with both - having worked around computers and the internet since the early 80s,  and around Lawyers periodically since the mid-90s.
Perhaps it is an especially "Jersey thing",  but I also LOVE to hear stories of the 'little guy' taking on - in your case, literally "City Hall"!


From a internet geek, ( follow up fuel for your next interaction with bureaucracy)   how about the city actually follows the rules established by the IETF/ICANN, and gets a name like :
   westorange.nj.us   

Internet "best practices" are given by the RFC libraries.   This matter is covered by RFC 1480.
http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1480

Other NJ Municiplaities have already done it the 'correct' way (or closer to correct.. since not every municpality is a "city", the CI prefix is not always appropriate, and understandably - extra typing)

City of Woodbury, NJ: http://www.woodbury.nj.us/
Carteret, NJ (actually a Borough)  http://www.ci.carteret.nj.us/
 
Sussex County: http://www.sussex.nj.us/
Hunterdon County:  http://co.hunterdon.nj.us/
Bergen County:  http://www.co.bergen.nj.us/

fyi - you are being linked to from articles on
Gawker:   http://gawker.com/this-is-how-you-respond-to-an-unjust-cease-and-desist-l-514155395
Slashdot:  http://entertainment.slashdot.org/story/13/06/21/0146257/pro-bono-lawyer-fights-cd-with-humor

-- the "Slashdot effect" from wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slashdot_effect

Congrats on putting your website on the map with all this traffic.    From my handle, you should tell I also live in North Jersey.  I joined just to participate in this conversation, but I will be back.   
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Jake Freivald on June 21, 2013, 02:49:14 PM
Thanks for all the information, Exit 14, and welcome to the forum.

By the way, since it's a West Orange forum and may not often have things that are relevant to you, you may want to subscribe by email updates. There's a link to subscribe by Feedburner in the upper-right corner of the screen (on every screen, in SMF's "news" location) and in the Forum Administration area.
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: Shon Fry on June 21, 2013, 11:45:43 PM
Although I have no particular interest in West Orange, NJ (I am, after all, from Western Australia) I am highly amused by the actions of your local government authority in dealing with the issue of the westorange.info domain name.  Your responses make very entertaining reading and it is apparent that the mayor and his underlings are nitwits.  I would be very surprised if any justice system outside of PyongYang would validate their actions.  Your efforts to alleviate the confustion are commendable.  Keep up the great work, Jake (or should I call you Jeff?). 
Title: Re: My Cease-and-Desist Letter
Post by: briana83 on January 14, 2014, 06:14:44 PM
Okay after finding things about westorange and westorangeinfo etc.  is it bad that I find it hilarious that the one that WILL NOT LOAD is the official one?