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Woohoo! A cease and desist email!

This is actually the second time I've received a cease and desist demand in regards to a Web site that I run. And boy, is it a strange one.

So some of the readers of this blog may be aware that I run a Web site called Fine Tuned Mac, which is a Macintosh technical troubleshooting forum. It was born when C-Net bought the largest Mac forum site, MacFixIt, so that they could shut it down and direct traffic to their own rival Mac site.

Anyway, this evening, the following gem of an email appeared in my inbox, which I reproduce in all its glory for your entertainment:

From: brandprotection@ip-rosettastone.com
Subject: finetunedmac.com - Notice of Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights of Rosetta Stone Ltd. [Case #70995]
Date: December 1, 2011 9:37:35 AM PST
To: Franklin Veaux
Cc: Brandenforcement@RosettaStone.com
Reply-To: brandprotection@ip-rosettastone.com

To whom it may concern:

This is to inform you that a website you manage, finetunedmac.com, has come to the attention of Rosetta Stone Ltd. ("Rosetta Stone").

Rosetta Stone's automated monitoring software continually monitors, collects and stores instances of unauthorized use, sales or other violations of Rosetta Stone's intellectual property rights on the Internet. Our records indicate that your site, finetunedmac.com, has employed an advertising or sales campaign that may have incorporated Rosetta Stone products and/or trademarks or terms confusingly similar thereto.

In order to ensure your compliance with our request, you should (i) delete “Rosetta”, "Rosetta Stone" and any variations thereof, from your search engine keyword list, and (ii) add "-Rosetta" and "-Rosetta Stone" as negative keywords (negative matching) to your search engine keyword list. If you have questions, the search engine websites explain how this is done.

We believe that there is no legitimate reason or basis for you to rely on any Rosetta Stone trademark, image or product in your marketing or sales campaigns, and encourage you to review all of your advertising campaigns and sites to avoid such practices in the future.


Rosetta Stone Ltd.

Now, there are a number of things about this email that jump out at me, the first and perhaps most relevant being that Fine Tuned Mac doesn't have a marketing or advertising budget, and the second being that if we did have a marketing or advertising budget, advertising the site using Rosetta Stone's logo or trademarks wouldn't do fuckall for us, since our target demographic is Mac geeks rather than hipsters who think they can get laid if they learn Italian.

So I wrote them this reply. What do you think, too formal?

To whom it may concern:

Your IP department appears to have gone mad.

I can't tell if it's too much time spent listening to crappy language tutorials on CD or too much time spent shooting moodily lit photographs of said CDs to appear in Skymall magazine, but Fine Tuned Mac does not, and never has, used any Rosetta Stone image, product, brand name, trademark, or any other intellectual property for any reason.

In fact, I am quite baffled (German: verdutzt; French: déconcerté; Italian: sconcertato; Finnish: hämmentynyt) by your email. Try as I might, I can not make head nor tail of what you're talking about. Fine Tuned Mac is a free forum-based Macintosh technical troubleshooting site. We have no marketing campaigns, and the only Google ads we've ever run have focused solely on Macintosh troubleshooting terms.

Now, I can perhaps, if I squint REALLY hard, perhaps see where you might have run off the rails, insofar as there are troubleshooting threads on the Fine Tuned Mac Web site that talk about Rosetta. However, what you may not know is that Rosetta is Apple's trade name for their proprietary real-time interpreter that permits machine code written for PowerPC processors to run on Intel-based computers. If you're unfamiliar with any of those terms, you might find a Google search enlightening.

Should you have a problem with Apple's use of the word "Rosetta," I respectfully (well, as respectfully as I can manage, anyway) suggest you take this up with Apple's intellectual property lawyers.

I trust this concludes your interest in Fine Tuned Mac.

Franklin Veaux


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 2nd, 2011 04:28 am (UTC)
Dec. 2nd, 2011 04:48 am (UTC)
My icon speaks for me.
Dec. 2nd, 2011 04:52 am (UTC)
I would LOVE to see them take on Apple & insist that Apple stop using the word Rosetta. Do they sue people for being named Rosetta and being talked about online too?
Dec. 2nd, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
Or, for that matter, the original Rosetta Stone? Since it is, after all, a THING.
Dec. 2nd, 2011 05:19 am (UTC)
wow :p

hmmm.... perhaps they have a bot that sends these spam emails to any place that generates google hits on those search terms “Rosetta”, "Rosetta Stone" they seem so concerned about.
Dec. 2nd, 2011 05:21 am (UTC)
If so, I can only imagine the endless fun they have with sites about archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, Egyptian history, or writing systems...
Dec. 3rd, 2011 02:48 am (UTC)
Yeah, that's what I thought, too. Sending the emails in huge bulks doesn't cost them anything, so...

One small issue with what you said: their software is actually pretty good. Really.

And wait, do you mean that learning Portuguese will not actually land me in bed with some hot Brazilian?! Dang, man, you're crushing my dreams!
Dec. 3rd, 2011 04:19 am (UTC)
I learned a long time ago that I have little or no talent for language, so it's entirely possible their software is good; I'm sure I wouldn't know. :)

Terribly sorry about your dreams. I didn't see them there when I was backing up the truck...
Dec. 2nd, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC)
i thought that was pretty much what their cease-and-desist letter said. i was mentally giving them props for being honest about it...
Dec. 3rd, 2011 06:09 am (UTC)
I can totally see the value of having a bot search sites for those terms. But then, a real person should go and look at the sites and determine if there is copyright infringement or not.
Dec. 3rd, 2011 01:02 pm (UTC)
We'll see more, not less, of this kind of madness I'm afraid...
Dec. 4th, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC)
Dec. 2nd, 2011 05:53 am (UTC)
I' m really more of a music geek but even I can see its got to be auto generated. Besides... shouldn't they be fully aware of the competitive product name? Perhaps they are hassling others who discuss that"other" product as a way of getting back at mac for supplanting their product by being as irritating as possible because they already know they can't win?
Dec. 2nd, 2011 10:45 am (UTC)
It never hurts to keep these on hand:
Chilling Effects
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Dec. 2nd, 2011 12:18 pm (UTC)
Put up a page on Finely Tuned Mac about this and you're likely to get boinged. Not sure if you *want* that, but it's the sort of thing that amuses them...
Dec. 2nd, 2011 01:39 pm (UTC)
Bravo! I'd be almost tempted to forward a copy to Apple, y'know, to give them a heads up.
Dec. 2nd, 2011 01:41 pm (UTC)
I love it. You're my hero today.
Dec. 2nd, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
I love it! It brought me my first smile of the day, thanks!
Dec. 2nd, 2011 07:28 pm (UTC)
Your reply = brill.
Dec. 3rd, 2011 06:10 am (UTC)
lol @ "brill"

But yes, agreed.
Dec. 4th, 2011 12:56 am (UTC)
You win, they fail.
Dec. 4th, 2011 02:51 am (UTC)
When I ran developer relations at Rendition, I conceived of and released a project called Rosetta that showed the same 3D techniques done using Direct 3D, OpenGL, and our native RRedline API.

I also opened up our developer program (and the Rosetta code) to any and all developers, including amateurs.

It thoroughly pissed off Microsoft - I actually got physically threatened by a Microsoft exec for being "not right thinking" because of this.

I made it way too obvious and easy for people to see all the ways that Direct 3D sucked.

Pissing off Microsoft has always been a highlight of my career.

But I never got a Cease & Desist letter for the name. :-)
Dec. 8th, 2011 02:51 pm (UTC)
Sic 'em. Don'tcha hate power gone mad? It's like they think they have a majority and can ram anything up your ass that they feel like...just like the recent Democrat congress, who without permission and against the majority of Americans, unlawfully passed a method for the government to seize control of health care. (Bribes, anyone? Yeah...that's unlawful.)
Dec. 9th, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC)
Now take that message and translate it into Klingon before you send it to them. :)
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )