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About the Complaint

Although much of the complaint appears to be standard legal "boilerplate," there is one subject (raised in Section 9) that probably warrants some explanation on my part.

My girlfriend is in the custom shirt business, and I developed a website for her several years ago.
"Why should you have to
hire a lawyer just because
some big company wants to
take something from you?"
I'm in the habit of putting a link to her site from my websites, whenever I can. (Obviously, I can't do that from websites I develop for commercial clients, but I've done it on several of the non-commercial sites that I've developed.)

Occasionally, I'll try to make the text of the link to her site relate to the site where the link appears. For example, one of my sites is a restaurant guide, and the link to my girlfriend's site reads: "Eat Too Much? Shirt Too Tight?" (What can I say, I'm a web developer, not a copy writer.) And so, when I decided to give her a link from ShopsAtWillowBend.com, I created a link that read: "You don't have to go to the mall for the finest custom-made shirts and blouses. We'll come to you!"

Ms. Greenberg did not object to (or even mention) this link in her first two letters, but in the complaint, she used it as evidence that I was operating the site for commercial gain. (This was actually a reasonable conclusion on her part, as she had no way of knowing that the link was to my girlfriend's site.) She specifically made the point that the site to which I was linking sold shirts, which was in competition with products sold at her client's mall.

Frankly, I hadn't thought about the "competition" aspect of the link (and, as I said, Ms. Greenberg had never brought it up before). But even though Ms. Greenberg was incorrect in characterizing the link as a revenue-producing activity for me, I could see where it would be more than a little annoying to her client. I think that it would be fair to say that putting that link on the site represented poor judgment on my part.

As you'll see in my response (next page), the bottom line is that I removed the offending link as soon as I received Ms. Greenberg's complaint – which is why you'll no longer see it on the website.

Whew! I suspect that that was more than most of you wanted to know, but I thought that I should explain that section of the complaint, which otherwise might have made no sense at all.

In general, by the way, my reaction to the complaint was: I thought that we were still having a productive discussion, why is she suing me? And then I started to get worked up over one of my "pet peeves," which is (as I've mentioned previously, and which I'll probably say again): Why should you have to hire a lawyer just because some big company wants to take something from you?

I can't count the number of times that I've read an article about some small company that was trying to market a new product or service, only to be threatened with a lawsuit by some large corporation with an enormous legal budget and an aggressive law firm. And all too often, the target of the litigation says: We knew we were right, but we didn't have the time or money to fight the big boys, so we gave in.

That always ticks me off when it happens to someone else – so as you'd expect, it has ticked me off even more now that it has happened to me. I don't want to sound like a hopeless idealist – and I certainly realize that people with greater resources are always going to have advantages over people with fewer resources, that's the way the world works. But it just doesn't seem fair that big companies should be able to use the justice system like their own personal sledgehammer, to bludgeon small companies and individuals into submission when they can't get their way.

OK, I'll get down off my soapbox (for a while)...

Anyway, to get back to this situation: I decided that I wasn't going to buckle under, and I wasn't going to hire an attorney. (Every lawyer to whom I've spoken has told me that I'm foolish for tangling with a law firm without getting legal assistance myself – but as far as I'm concerned, if Taubman can force me to spend my hard-earned money on a lawyer, in a sense they've already won.) So I devised a low-cost (but, unavoidably, time-intensive) strategy for fighting Taubman. Which brings us to the next section...

Next: I Register "Complaint" Domain Names

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