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Thread: Addleshaw Goddard Threaten Planet-Tolkien.com!

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What is it about domain-name ownership? I mean, it’s quite simple to me, if you buy it, you own it – right? Not according to some people! You see, not so along ago we were approached by Manches Solicitors, lawyers acting for the JRR Tolkien Estate and other Tolkien Interests. Their initial ‘beef’ with us was copyright infringement, specifically the offering for download copies of a large number of their client's poems and maps at http://www.planet-tolkien.com. This was fair enough and we immediately responded by removing the offending articles with a swift apology. You would think that would be enough right? I mean, after all Planet-Tolkien.com is nothing more than a free Tolkien resource providing thousands of fans with a home to discuss and enjoy their favourite author’s work and lifetime accomplishments. We even provide free weekly Tolkien History courses to those who wish to attend, so no one can really question our intentions on a commercial premise. However, the Tolkien Estate who we originally mistakenly thought to be our friend didn't stop there! They wrote back again, and this time they requested we hand over one of our domain-names!

“We have also discovered that you have registered the domain name www.tolkien.org.uk (although the website attached to the domain name is not active).”

“Our client believes that you have registered the domain name in "bad faith", with an intention to use its name for your own financial gain (either directly or via advertising revenue) or in the hope of selling it to our client for more than the administrative costs incurred by you. It is, therefore, an abusive registration within the meaning set out in the Nominet DRS.”

The best bit had to be…

“In addition, this is a well known mark and we cannot see how you could hope to show that any use you might put the domain name to could be a "good faith" use.”

Excuse me? You cannot see how we might put the domain to use in good faith? What is Planet-Tolkien.com? Do we not have over 60,000 Tolkien fans visit us everyday, enrich them with quality factual content and with little need persuade and show them how J.R.R Tolkien is one of the best authors to date? Bar the fact that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year we are advertising his books which you happen to make money from? Do you see us jumping on our high horses and asking for something in return? NO!

I replied to Manches Solicitors about the domain dispute and told them where to go, in fairness they didn't continue their complaint to Nominet DRS.

Thinking this was just one bad egg I ignored the experience realising that it’s almost impossible not to go through life without meeting at least one a***. However, this is not the case it seems, at least not for me -- another even bigger a*** of an egg has come along, this time in the form of Addleshaw Goddard, lawyers acting for Warner Bros Entertainment Inc, New Line Productions Inc and The Saul Zaentz Company. And, if you haven’t guessed already it is again in relation to another domain dispute! These people just don’t get it do they, just because they didn’t think to register it first doesn’t give them the right to get all bitchy because someone else did! Tough! Too late and bad luck is all I can say to you. It’s no good throwing your money at over paid soliciting firms to steal it back for you, take me to court! I want to go to court so someone can actually stand up to you and tell you where to go. I mean, what is the world coming to?

So anyway, as I was saying, Addleshaw Goddard sent me a lovely PDF writing their concerns about our registration of the domain http://www.shiremail.com. Evidentially because it has the word “shire” in it, they believe they have the right to own it. Erm, okay, yeah I think that’s true and I will hand the domain right over to you, NOT (That was text based sarcasm). I quote for your enjoyment:

“The SHIRE name therefore is well-known in the UK and elsewhere, to readers of the Lord of the Rings books (and others) and the goodwill in the name has been achieved through sales of such books”

“The incorporation of the SHIRE name into a domain name by you is a misrepresentation to the public that the domain is connected to the Lord of the Rings books and/or films. In particular, the registration by you of the domain name constitutes a representation to persons who consult the Whois register that you are connected to or associated with the name registered and thus the owner of licensee of the goodwill in the name, which of course you are not. We would refer you in this regard to the decision of the Court of Appeal in British Telecommunications plc & Ors V. One in a Million limited & Ors [1999] 1WLR 903, and in particular to the judgment of Lord Justice Aldous at 920D-F and the following….” Blah blah and so it went on…

(I would just like to issue a public warning to all residents living in the shires of Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire etc etc... They may need to consider carefully the use of the word "Shire" in any correspondence to which the public may have access as this could leave them open to legal action. Especially if you have read any of J.R.R Tolkien's works - This comes with a special warning to owners of Shire horses, as of course, there were horses in the books too! and there are rumours that Addleshaw Goddard may be considering purchasing some stables?!)

So once again I wrote back an e-mail to these lovely lawyer folks telling them I will see them in court and expected to hear no more of it. Well, today I was around my friends flat when I got a phone call on my mobile from a private number… I bet you can’t guess who it is, go on guess, I will count a bit, or put a bit of paper over the line below and see if you get it right…


It was ………………………….. Addleshaw Goddard!


Did you get it right? I bet you did! A friendly Gentleman going by the name of Nick Hanbidge asks me if I am who he was looking for and continues to query my intentions of whether or not I intend to hand the domain over to them, which I said no. He then instructed me that this was likely to end up with me being taken to court and I kindly replied with “good”, of which we then had to have a five minute conversation of why I was looking forward to going to court before he confirmed once again I had no right to the domain.

By the way Mr Handbidge, making anonymous or abusive phone calls is a criminal offence under section 43 of the Telecommunications Act 1984. The actual wording for the category you fall under is:

sends, by means of a public telecommunication system, a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character:

Menacing? Why you can say that again! I was positively sobbing when I got off the phone and literally didn't know what to do with myself.

Well, I just wanted to clear this up for you Addleshaw Goddard, Warner Bros Entertainment Inc, New Line Productions Inc and The Saul Zaentz Company. Shiremail.com is not related to Tolkien in any way other than the fact that I created it and own it, and I also own Planet-Tolkien.com. The only relation here is that I started Shiremail.com so it could financially support Planet-Tolkien.com, being a free website with a large member base those bandwidth bills come in and they hit hard and often. So excuse me for fighting for Tolkien fans everywhere to have a daily updated, fun, content rich and staff managed Tolkien resource for FREE. But unlike some punks I am not all about money, greed and monopolizing the world. There are some people about who are actually content with just doing things for free and enjoying the simple things in life, like me.

So once again, just to make it clear. No you cannot have the domain-name, yes I will see you in court. Now p*** off and leave us Tolkien fans alone.

In Fellowship,
Tarrant Costelloe
Webmaster of Planet-Tolkien.com
*Applauds*
Very well written taz, well done.
*applauds too!*


You should show them some of Virumor's posts. Those should prove "beyond reasonable doubt" that you and PT has "no financial gain" from beeing "associated with the movies" in any way! Tongue Smilie

If you go to court try to make it a British one. They judge "by the letter of the law and common sence, unlike the American ones. Also it would be one heck of a lot cheaper for you! That is their (corporate muscle) usual strategy: make fighting them so expensive you'll settle.
Calm, calm, calm..... and breathe.....

Will I get sued as well? My house is called The Shire..... I even have shire in my name... oh help! Save me from the Addledheaded whatshisname.......


Taz Mania Rules!
I'm not a lawyer, but it strikes me there might be some breach of the data protection act here too - how did this guy get your mobile number, for instance? If it was appropriate/professional to discuss it over the phone shouldn't he have been doing so with your lawyers, not with you direct? Isn't that the point of professional representation? Did he get your consent to discuss it or did he just barge straight on? Sounds quite close to 'cold calling' which I'm pretty sure is illegal unless you've agreed that your phone number can be logged and used for such purposes. Is there any breach of Law Society rules here?

Don't know if that's helpful. Hope it is. Good luck to you anyhow.

On another note: didn't some of the estate lawyers issue writs against some kids magician in the US because he used the name 'Gandalf'??

Insert expletives of your choosing here: **********

You're obligated to give some form of contact number when you register a domain. I notice from shiremail's dns record that Taz gave his mobile number.

dns records are public, so no breach of the DPA occurred.
Oh no.... Shaking Head Smilie ... Val and the Council get ready to bust Taz out of jail.

Nicely done, though, mate. I hate how some people just assume they own everything to do with a name, and assume everyone else is just out to make a quick buck just because it's all they understand themselves. They are quite content to take everyone's money, but as soon as something like this site comes along that they aren't getting anything from, it's sour grapes and they want their football back.
Way to go Taz! Stand your ground, and don't let those shmucks intimidate you! They’re purposely trying to scare you off first, hoping you’ll give in, and make things real nice, cheap, and easy for them.
Shaking Head Smilie
From Chambers 21st Century dictionary -

Quote:
Shire a county; a rural district having its own elected council


How can anyone demand the rights to that word?
I have also now registered a complaint against them with the The Law Society of England and Wales with reference to their harassing call on the 08th July 2004, which has been logged and forwarded to the appropriate department.

that was pure classs TAZ ! u have all our support and help if necessary. just go kick some legal @$$. man i have a site on LOTR and i don earn a penny frm it but who knows these lawyer dogs may come after me as well sniffin for money. u show them Taz ! Ayan honours u and greatly respects your courage to stand ur ground. Vee and all are right, they have infringed some laws themselves when they came after u. GO ON TAZ, SHOW THEM WHOSE BOSS !!
Quote:
From Chambers 21st Century dictionary -


Quote:
Shire a county; a rural district having its own elected council


How can anyone demand the rights to that word?



Donald Trump(h) claims the rights to the expression "You're fired!", although that is centuries old. (look in Celebs Interesting and useful stuff-thread)

It seems that if you have enough money, all you have to do is say "I ownzz you!" and it magically becomes true..

After a series of insane, non-sensical patent claims recently, there are those that start to oppose this trend. EFF for instace. Clicky!
Searching google also shows me that the first 12 entries are not tolkien related, if shire is such a tolkien related word shouldn't it be easier to find something tolkien related based on it
Yay Ikarus! Congratulations on your first post!
Bravo Taz. Make those long nosed, money sniffing, curs find some other poor soul to bother. They got a lot of time on their hands if they are searching the net for sites with TOLKIEN in them.

I think they are coming after your site because it is big and well known, they think they can make a few bucks off of you. Good grief!!! There are thousands of tolkien sites out there. Are they going to send snotty e-mails to each one?
How long before they claim the rights to any website containing the words 'One' and 'Ring'?

I find it strange that small fry such as PT gets targetted yet they (who are they?) are obviously happy to let Newline Cinema and associated companies do anything they want with Tolkien. Has the Tolkien Estate taken them to court for using Tolkien's work? Or is this all to do with money? If you can pay for it you can have it regardless. I mean, much as I love the films, they ain't strictly Tolkien so why haven't they been sued for using the material in bad faith - just look at what they did to Faramir?

What sort of deals have been struck between all these faceless corporations?

And while I think about it, what about the conventions such as Master of the Rings? Is that licenced or will they be sued. Are the guests bound by contracts not to say or discuss certain things? Is it merely a matter of being licenced and then you can do what you like and make as much money as you like because that is the root of it all? Money Money Money. Do none of these big companies care about ethics, respect, loyalty or honour and the pure enjoyment and promotion of Tolkien's work?
Actually Addleshaw Goddard are currently trying to sue Master of the Rings.
Some clickies on patently stupid patents and domain name struggles:


Click!

Click!

Click! Particulary relevant. *shudder!*

Click!

Here's the story of one that went to court and won. Just to lift the spirits a bit! Big Smile Smilie

Save Unicom.com
Haha, some good links there Smile Smilie
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.... And many more !!

Oh dear me! I am just starting to calm down !! Sorry - it's all terrible but I could not help but laugh at some of the comments... V, possum... Shire...!! HA!! And Ike.... Definition of.... HA!

But on a more serious note: Very well said, Taz... You certainly have a way with words & will no doubt rip these 'people' (< & I use the term loosely) to shreds in court!

I wish you all the luck in the world - not that you'll need it with what they are trying to base this case on, I'm sure.. But you have it anyhoo....

Keep us all up to date & show 'em what for.. Tally-Ho & all that!!

Lass
I hear the Isle of Man TT races will have to be renamed.
Something horrible just struck me: They speak English in the movies! Does that mean that New Line now owns the rights to the English language too? Are they already busy calculating how much I have to pay them in royalties for this post? *Gulp!*
Quote:
There are thousands of tolkien sites out there. Are they going to send snotty e-mails to each one?


You know, they probably will since it means they can fleece New Line et al for £££tens of thousands in fees. Sorry, did I say "fleece"?. Typo. What I meant was "bill their client at highly competitive rates for all the hard work they're putting in assiduously protecting said clients' rights..."
True. This is what they do for a living, let's not forget that. People doesn't study corporate law for the goodness of their hearts. They want to make money! They do this proffesionally. Quite frankly Taz you should get yourself a lawyer. A lawyer in court is expensive, but a few hours of consultations could do wonders to. (if you believe my last clicky)
Quote:
assiduously protecting said clients' rights..."


I read that as sad clients...... how appropriate.
Quote:
British Telecommunications plc & Ors V. One in a Million limited & Ors [1999] 1WLR 903,


Just did a google search on this case which Addleshaw Goddard cited in their letter to you. One in a Million was one of these companies which registered domains like marksandspencers.com and littlewoods.com, etc, etc in the hope that M&S et al would pay them loads of cash when they realised what had happened. Seems lightyears from shiremail - and anyway I don't think anyone has registered 'Shire' as a trademark, in the way that 'Tolkien', for instance, has been. Hardly a precedent at all, then.

In fact, I wonder what rights New Line, etc would have to the Shire anyway. Its not the title to a film. Your not ripping off an image from a film by selling toys or t shirts or something. 'Tolkien' the trademark is owned by the Tolkien Estate, isn't it? If anyone would have a claim, I figure it would be them and not New Line. And how could they claim you were passing off an email service as the work of a professor of Old English who died in 1973?? As someone else said I think, a couple of hours from a really top rate intellectual property lawyer - especially a really agressive one - would be worth the money and probaby save you an awful lot of stress/grief.
Gosh! You'd think being obsessed and loyal and true is against the law! You show'em, and if you need any help, give me a call. I'll go to jail for you. Then see, one of you come in wearing a bat cape, dance in front of the jail guard, snatch one of his jewels for good measure, and get me outa there!
Support for Taz

Wohoo! Way to go Taz! You just got a few million new supporters! Big Smile Smilie
Woohooo! Smile Smilie
More coverage. Userfriendly.org this time.
Point mouse here and click

Kickstart got his facts a bit wrong, and no direct clicky for PT, but still..
Nice one Grev, some interesting comments there.
More comments, from the Register's letter bag this time. (Scroll down)
Oh! Mail!
Go Taz!!!
Fight for the rights of Tolkien fans.
you do have millions of supporters.
Apparantly Saul Zaentz isn't finished yet. Now they're going after Shadows of Isildur as well, on basically the same basis's, as indicated on one of their threads at:

http://www.middle-earth.us/forums/viewtopic.php?t=4020&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

I don't know what their problem is. Sounds to me like domain stealing and a few other things as well. I wonder if the Feds would be interested in what these creeps are pulling. Heh.

(Seriously though, something tells me they're going on a witch hunt for anyone else they can persecute as sharing some similiarites with their precious licensing. Old Tolkien would turn over in his grave if he knew what they've done to his name)
http://www.jrrtolkien.org.uk, a nice site dedicated to JRRT in Oxford, is down also due to a 'Big Fish'. Heh, seems like real Tolkien sites made by true Tolkien fans aren't allowed to exist, for some reason. It's a witchhunt, indeed.
congrats on your first post Alcor
I have approached middle-earth.us to see if we can be of assistance.
Addershark swims again, it seems. This time he is snapping after Harry Potter.
Grrr!
What a bunch of.....well can't say what I'm thinking. But seriously, Addlebrained Hoggerd must be pinching pennies and can't find any worthwhile work. Or maybe their mission is just to make people miserable.
Interesting article which if you scroll down a page or two you will see mention of Saul Zaentz

John Fogerty