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Nina Yablok

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July 30, 2012 - 2:52 pm
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UPDATE 9:19pm PDT July 30, 2012: @Instapundit has been turned over to Glenn Reynolds. His RSS feed should be up and running shortly. We couldn’t save the “followers” list so please re-follow @Instapundit.

Thanks everyone for the help!

Remember in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy and her homies made it to the Emerald City? Just when you think everything is going to be okie-dokie-fine and they are all scrub-a-dubbed up, the Wicked Witch of the West rides by on her broomstick and writes “SURRENDER DOROTHY” in black smoke across the sky.  Well sometimes as an attorney, I feel like I need to hire a skywriting plane to get a response from other attorneys.  But right now I’m thinking the Internet, and specifically Twitter, might be the best way to get a response. Let me tell you why.

First the short version, if you don’t want to read the whole sad tale: I’m an attorney. I’m trying to reach Twitter’s legal department. I can’t by any conventional means. I’m asking for help by tweeting #RespondTwitter and linking to this blog post.

Now the whole story:

I’m all for automation, and given a choice I will do business online before I’ll go to a store or print out and mail or fax in some form.  Give me the chance to fill out an online form for something and I’m a happy camper… usually.

So I was my usual happy camper self when, after Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, asked me to try to get the Instapundit Twitter handle back for him, I found that Twitter had a special page for submitting trademark problems.  Instapundit is Glenn Reynolds’ registered trademark.

The Instapundit situation was unique in that it wasn’t a poacher or typical infringer who had taken the trademark as a Twitter handle. In our case, a fan had gotten to Twitter before my client and had used the @Instapundit Twitter account to push my client’s RSS feed through the Twitter account. Other than not being able to respond to direct tweets, this was OK with Glenn. He was going to use the account to do the same thing: push his RSS feed; he’s a big proponent of opening up the wild wide world of internet communications to everyone.

However, when Glenn modified his website, the RSS feed information changed. And the fan who had started the Twitter account never updated the link with the RSS feed. So the Twitter account with the Instapundit registered trademark is not tweeting. It’s dead, Jim.

And worse yet, the Instapundit trademark is associated with Glenn’s reputation as a very prolific blogger. Therefore, having a dead Twitter feed is beyond “not a good thing”; it’s a dilution of the mark’s value.

Direct tweets to the fan who opened the account resulted in no response.  We don’t know if the individual is dead or alive, bored or fed up, retired to a tropical island with no internet access, or what.

So I put in my somewhat simple trademark issue request on Twitter’s handy-dandy trademark issue form. And waited. And waited. Two weeks later I got an email saying they had received my form and would process it.  One small step for doing things right.

Two weeks after that I got an email with the subject line “Twitter Support: update on Trademark Issue – (tradename)” at 5:14 on a Friday night. The email said, “Please read this carefully and respond to confirm that your report as currently submitted is complete and valid or reply with the additional information required as described below. We will not be able to investigate further and this ticket will be closed unless we receive a response to this message.” It then had the same questions as on the original form I had submitted.  It did not clarify what question had not been answered to their satisfaction.

So I restated my case in slightly different terms, and sent back the email.  I received the exact same email again at 7:12 p.m., and again at 9:12 p.m., and again at 12:05 a.m. the next morning. I responded to all of the requests except the last one because I was pretty sure by that time that the LOLcats had taken over Twitter’s automated system.

I waited another 2 weeks and sent an email to Twitter’s support email again, basically saying “what’s up?” and I almost immediately received a reply saying, and I quote, “You tried to update a request that has been closed. Please submit a new request at http://support.twitter.com/forms. You can also visit our help center at http://support.twitter.com for self-help solutions to common problems. Thanks!”

Well sorry, but no thanks. I’ve done that already.

But I R an attorney. I know things. Like the Scarecrow, I have a Doctorate in Thinkology. One thing I know is that I can look up the “agent for service of process” for companies in California. The agent for service of process is the human being (or company) who (or which) is supposed to accept official legal papers on behalf of the company.

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