April 11, 2011

A request for pro bono legal help

From the Los Angeles Times:
An authorized biography about Apple visionary Steve Jobs will be published in early 2012, it was announced Monday. The book will be called "iSteve: A Book of Jobs." 
iSeriously. 
Jobs, 56, is cooperating with his biographer on the project. The book, to be published by Simon & Schuster, is being written by Walter Isaacson, head of the Aspen Institute and a former executive at Time and CNN. He's previously tackled genius Albert Einstein ("Einstein: His Life and Universe"), founding father Ben Franklin ("Benjamin Franklin: An American Life") and powerful diplomat Henry Kissinger ("Kissinger: A Biography"). 
"This is the perfect match of subject and author, and it is certain to be a landmark book about one of the world's greatest innovators," Simon & Schuster Publisher Jonathan Karp said in a statement. 
The Associated Press reports, "Isaacson has been working on the long-rumored biography since 2009 and has interviewed Jobs, members of his family, colleagues at Apple and competitors." 
The book has been thought to be in the works since February 2010, when the New York Times wrote that Isaacson had been invited by Jobs to tour his childhood home.

I'm sorry, but I've been doing business under the name "iSteve" since the 1990s, both at iSteve.com and at iSteve.blogspot.com. The name iSteve is essential to my business strategy of having a unique and unmisspellable term for search engines, since my last name is easily confused with a common word ("sailor") and easily misspelled ("sailor," "saylor," "seiler, "sayler," etc.). The bottom of my iSteve.com homepage reads:
Entire iSteve.com website Copyright Steve Sailer 1990-2007

I shall defend my iSteve brand and intellectual property against infringers, especially a well-known billionaire like Mr. Jobs. I do not shoplift the creations of Mr. Jobs, of Mr. Isaacson, and of Simon & Schuster without paying for them, and I expect the same from them.

If you are a lawyer with expertise in this area, and would like to do some pro bono work for me, please email me.

72 comments:

Eric said...

Your brand is so valuable you don't want to spend any money at all defending it?

Steve Sailer said...

Not if I can get it for free!

JSM said...

Steve, you sly old dog.

You knew full well, when you registered "iSteve," the day would come when Jobs, the AppleSteve, would want his biography written, and that he would want to title it "iSteve."

You snagged that domain name cheap and will sell it dear.

You are pretty good at picking real estate, both the meatspace kind, such as that condo in Chicago with a gentrification in its future, and the cyberspace kind.

Would you please be my financial guru?

Anonymous said...

Good luck. How did your lawsuit turn out against the Federal Reserve?

Grumpy Old Man said...

Initial thought: It's probably a trademark rather than a copyright.

clown said...

I'd wager that iSteve.com will see quite an increase in traffic if you just keep your mouth shut, no?

Anonymous said...

Don't be so contentious. This is your chance to get rich. What's a little buyout to the folks at Apple or a big publisher?

Anonymous said...

I'll be rooting for you Steve against this parasitic billionaire.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what you think the copyright notice does; this is a trademark issue.

Gene Berman said...

Steve:

At least do the author-designate the courtesy of assuming he's unaware that the use of "iSteve" may constitute an infringement.

Write them a polite letter but make clear that "iSteve" is yours by copyright and tell them you will, if push comes to shove, defend your title in court.

At the very least (at this early stage when nothing's cast in stone), it will warn them of the potential costs that may go along with an insistance on that name.

There might even be a possibility (you'll have to actually have a lawyer comment on this, gratis or not) of seeking injunctive relief i.e., a prohibition on publication using your copyrighted name.

Somehow, I believe you'll prevail in this--and maybe easily.

Gaurav Ahuja said...

Mr. Sailer, please tell me this is some kind of joke. If anything, he will boost your name recognition even if it is by accident. Would you sue me if I changed my name from Gaurav Ahuja to ISteve Steve Sailer? Thankfully, there would not be any money in that for you to gain. On a more serious note, you should read Stephan Kinsella's landmark treatise, Against Intellectual Property. There is other good work out there that goes patents, copyrights, etc. However, I am hoping that you are giving everyone a late April Fool's Day Joke.

Anonymous said...

Just think of all traffic you will get when people search for his book

Anonymous said...

I think its a trademark issue, and unless isteve was formally trademarked i don't think steve can stop others from using it. Anyway i'll let those more familiar with the law weigh in.

Anyway, i'll bet that steve jobs, being very PC, doesn't want to be associated with you steve (sailer). He's probably willing to pay you big bucks to for the isteve domain name just so as to not be associated with you. This could be your chance get some serious money.

Anonymous said...

Get the Volokhs to help you. Blogger solidarity. Plus those are some brainy motherfuckers.

Anonymous said...

I googled a whole bunch of names beginning with 'i'. I think it's a common practice in cyberspace, like Asimov's 'irobot'. There's isally, ijohn, iandrea, etc.

I think it's like 'yo' among Italian-Americans and hip-hoppers. Like 'yo, Adriane', 'yo, MTV raps', etc.

Anonymous said...

Time to sell Apple stock. This court biographer stuff might be an indication of how long Jobs expects to live.

Anonymous said...

Btw, what does 'i' stand for in 'isteve'?

Anonymous said...

Registration is not necessary to have a valid trademark.

Gosh so much bad legal advice here <_<

Anonymous said...

It's too bad Sailer is not a liberal or black and Steve Jobs isn't a conservative. Tons of top Jewish lawyers would line up to take his case.
Maybe Sailer should be his own lawyer.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is like a weird coincidence. Last night, I watched Mamet's SPANISH PRISONER for the first time. Looks like someone's stolen Sailer's 'process'.

The Beatles said...

We wish you a fraction of the out of court settlement we obtained.

Anonymous said...

Try googling "isteve".

Steve's blog shows up first; the Jobs bio is third.

Expect an increase in traffic to your site. Also an increase in hate emails/comments, as you hardly appeal to the same demographics. Although actually a lot of isteve readers seem to lead outwardly SWPL-ish lives with these secret views and reading habits that they keep to themselves, so perhaps there's more overlap between the two isteve constituencies than first appears.

RKU said...

I don't know if legal trademarks really apply with Steve Jobs...

For example, when he announced his iPad a year or so ago, people pointed out that some big Japanese(?) company (Hitachi?) had already been selling a small computer or something called an "I-Pad" for years. But the Apple lawyers just steamrolled them, and the "iPad" became a unique Apple trademark.

On the other hand, as someone already mentioned, the Apple people might be awfully eager to avoid any "ideological controversy" or guilt by association and just pay some nice money to buy up a few domain names which could confuse people.

ben tillman said...

Not sure what you think the copyright notice does; this is a trademark issue.

Right.

ben tillman said...

But maybe it's not too late to trademark it.

Anonymous said...

isteve - here is some free legal advice:

Individual words or names are not protected under copyrighted.

This is a trademark issue. Trademarks require formal registration and continuous renewal, which, I am assuming you do not have.

The disclaimer on your isteve.com site is unnecessary - the contents of your blog, and every blog ever written is automatically protected by copyright when it is published onto the web.

The most you have is a potentially valuable domain that the publisher may want to purchase. Of course, they could always buy www.istevethebook.com instead. However, given the controversial nature of your site, it's possible they may want to buy isteve as well, so people don't confuse your writings with SJ's alter ego.

Garland said...

I just googled "Half-Blood Prince" and didnt see any mention of your book for pages and pages. Hopefully "Isteve" will work out better for you.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh Steve. A new low. A notch above welfare queens who peddle food stamps for liqueur.

Trahearne said...

You don't want the free publicity?

Baloo said...

I have the same problem with "Baloo."

Steven Paul Hagopian said...

How about this scenario?

Jobs trademarks iSteve and the connection becomes deeply rooted in the consumer mind on a slightly different association thatn the unPC iSteve: profound prognasticating tech evangelist vs unPC social commentator and gadfly.

With all the traction that Jobs will likely get with his iSteve trademark, his lawyers will become upset at the unsavory iSteve site discussing unPC issues. They argue that Jobs significantlly and materially suffers from the confusion created in the consumer mind between the two iSteve.

They ask a judge to force the abandoment or confiscation of the unPC iSteve website that is damagning their registered trademark.

unPC has nether the deep pockets to fight back nor finds much love in the US justice system.

How much justice can you afford?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Amy Chua can help you out.

Anonymous said...

Registration is not required for trademark rights (helpful, but not required):

From the US Patent and Trademark Office web site, in their FAQ for Trademarks:

What are “common law” rights?

Federal registration is not required to establish rights in a trademark. Common law rights arise from actual use of a mark and may allow the common law user to successfully challenge a registration or application.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe Amy Chua can help you out."

How do tiger lawyers operate?

Amy as tiger lawyer:

Steve good man. He no cheat ever in life. He work hard like Chinese. No short cut for Steve. He not privilege white male. He not born rich. He honest man. He work on blog 24/7 like my daughter play piano for 10 yrs with no sleep, no eat, no play. All work and no play make Steve very angry boy, especially when Jobs, rich white guy, steal what Steve work all life to achieve. It not fair. If my girl play piano really very good but another girl take credit, I roar like tiger mother, and so I growl like tiger lawyer.

Fidel R said...

Steve: It looks to me like both the UDRP and ACPA are in your favor. ACPA specifically requires that the complainant's mark be famous at the time of the domain's registration (i.e. 1990). As far as I know, Apple's first use of an iProduct name was the original iMac, released in 1998. This will be a tough sell for Apple's lawyers.

UDRP does not give you this out, but it does specifically require that you be using the name in bad faith for Apple to win the arbitration. In any case, even if you lose the UDRP arbitration, you can still avail yourself of ACPA.

The case of Sting vs. Michael Urvan (the owner of sting.com) was decided in Urvan's favor under the UDRP. The case is analogous to yours, except that the fact that "sting" is a common English word was part of the defense's argument, whereas "isteve" is not even a rare English word. On the other hand, Sting had been Sting for 23 years when Urvan registered sting.com, and famous as Sting for at least some of them.

IANAL, but I think their only chance is to force you to spend more money in court than you can afford. And since the whole point of the UDRP is to be dirt-cheap compared to a real trial, I think you are a very strong position. At this point, I think it's important to note that for both the UDRP and the ACPA, willingness to sell the domain name is not sufficient to establish bad faith.

headache said...

Right on Steve, hope you don't sell off to this wealthy parasite.

Anonymous said...

One bad thing about this case, if it really goes through, is Komment Kontrol is gonna be tighter since Sailer will have to put forth a more respectable image before the public.

Nanonymous said...

I sincerely hope that your post is in jest. Please say that it is.

spandrell said...

People are you all stupid?

Steve isn't rich, and this is a godsend. If by bitching a bit he can get several million, he can relax for years and write good stuff for everyone!! Support him by any means!

Anonymous said...

Steve, is it safe to assume that you find ways to bypass the NY Times paywall... hm?

The Wobbly Guy said...

Wow. It could be one heck of an opportunity though, to disseminate your views to a larger audience.

Traveller said...

In Italy is famous the trouble a little business owner called Armani, who registered the domain armani.it long before the famous fashion stylist.

Of course, when the big rich clothes designer went in tribunal, the judges sided immediately with him and they gave him the domain.

I hope your Paypal donations here are comparable to the balance sheet of Apple Inc.

Jimbo said...

"For example, when he announced his iPad a year or so ago, people pointed out that some big Japanese(?) company (Hitachi?) had already been selling a small computer or something called an "I-Pad" for years. But the Apple lawyers just steamrolled them, and the "iPad" became a unique Apple trademark. "

Not to mention that they changed the name of their iPhone/iPad os to "IOs" even though Cisco had been using that fortheir main product line for years. Some advice - if you see some Apple lawyers coming, run.

Lewis said...

Frankly, over this one, I wouldn't go for pro bono. Maybe getting some advice free might help, but the best free advice I would suggest would be to IMMEDIATELY seek a professional lawyer with specialization in this field. Ideally, the best one you can. Anything you say and do can potentially be used against your case in a legal situation, and I have personally witnessed where people make lots of big mistakes floundering around on their own. For example, in frustration you may inadvertantly write something that a Jobs lawyer could call libel or damaging to the Apple brand or Jobs and countersue. A professional lawyer can steer you clear of that (so sooner is better) and is going to do the best job at getting the best settlement; they will want a piece of it, but you still get much more than none at all, which a bad lawyer might get.

carol said...

have you searched for the trademark at upsta.gov? if they register it first you're screwed. Not to late to file and reserve it but they probably had it covered years ago.

Anonymous said...

"Amy as tiger lawyer:...[Steve] honest man. He work on blog 24/7 like my daughter play piano for 10 yrs with no sleep, no eat, no play."

Yeah, but he probably needed bathroom breaks.

"If my girl play piano really very good but another girl take credit, I roar like tiger mother, and so I growl like tiger lawyer."

Tiger Lawyer, sue thyself.

Carol said...

yes a trademark does not have to be registered, but if Apple files before Steve does it makes it harder for him. Costs a few hundred and can be done online so why not try?

Anonymous said...

You could learn a thing or two from that other Steve.

Steve Jobs and I share a distinction - we both once were the boss of Jeff Raskin. Raskin for those of you who have forgotten was "The Father of the Macintosh". Somehow the idea has spread that Jobs himself had something to do with the Mac. Not so, Raskin dragged him kicking and screaming down to Xerox PARC.

Jobs' contribution was on exterior style not on anything to do with actual functionality or any of the internals. The Apple II was a great looking computer. It certainly gave you more confidence than the cheap looking contemporary Radio Shack TRS-80
- unaffectionately known as the Trash 80.

The Apple I had been a single board computer without a casing. Almost all of its internals were conceived by yet another Steve - the Woz.

I had a Commodore PET in this time period. The PET like the Apple II used Chuck Peddle's 6502 chip. BTW this fact gave Peddle the idea to call himself "The Father of the Microcomputer". But like that other father Raskin, guys who messed around on the inside were soon to be forgotten.

Jobs wanted the external box to look good and so the legend of Jobs began.

So you Steve Sailer should meditate on the Steve Jobs career. You might want to abandon real policy analysis (an internal thingee) and go for style over substance like say, Malcolm Gladwell.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

"Right on Steve, hope you don't sell off to this wealthy parasite."

No, no. What Steve needs is a genius grant to let him blog without worrying about his mortgage, his kids' education, etc. Mr Jobs may be just the man to provide it.

"One bad thing about this case, if it really goes through, is Komment Kontrol is gonna be tighter since Sailer will have to put forth a more respectable image before the public."

But maybe it's a case of 'the worse, the better'. The more disgusting iSteve.com appears to the Apple cultists, the more motivation Jobs has to buy it out, to keep his good name from being tarred by the association.

Cennbeorc

Anonymous said...

Now is a good time to get isteve.com back up to speed.

VG said...

You might want to start simultaneously updating your isteve.com page as well, if possible. Expect a lot of hits.

not a hacker said...

Steve, in intellectual property litigation there are remedies available that never occur in other contexts. You should RIGHT NOW seek a pre-complaint, ex parte attachment on Mr. Jobs's real property. Adidas and Gucci do this all the time.

Lawful Neutral said...

>They ask a judge to force the abandoment or confiscation of the unPC iSteve website that is damagning their registered trademark.

Bingo. If anything comes of this, that is what it will be. It doesn't make me happy, but you're roadkill Steve.

Anonymous said...

As others have commented, this is a trademark, not a copyright issue (copyright comes into play when people 'borrow' your content). And, as others have said, you don't have to register your TM; it comes into effect by use in interstate commerce (if intra-state then it is a regional mark). As you may already know, a copyright likewise comes into being without registration, the moment you put your idea into a 'tangible' medium.
I should think that by blogging you meet the interstate requirement (doubtless you are read internationally) although I don't know what case law has established in this regard. Registration of your TM has one significant advantage--it allows you to collect statutory damages for infringement. However, you must register prior to the offending party's use to be eligible for these damages. Also, I think (full disclosure--I'm just a little old South Texas trial lawyer, not an IP attorney) mere use of a similar mark isn't enough. It has to be use in a way that causes confusion and thereby decreases your market share, or similarly damages you.

Sideways said...

Right on Steve, hope you don't sell off to this wealthy parasite

Oh, come on, I'd laugh my ass off if Steve Sailer wound up having his blogging funded by Steve Jobs.

James said...

I'm not a lawyer but having published my own books I learned a few things such as you can't copyright a book title. Can you copyright a web site name? I doubt it.

If you had registered iSteve as a trademark (cost about $1 thou) you'd have a case.

If you owned the domain name you could sell it, but I gather you did not.

In my opinion you don't stand a chance of getting a lawyer (even if you paid him/her.)

Since writing the above I've now read some comments by (real) lawyers that seem to agree with me.

Anonymous said...

I would add to my earlier 4/12/11 12:13 PM post-- registration of the TM is most definitely not a prerequisite for suit. You can seek a permanent injunction, and possibly attorney fees, without having registered your TM.

Anonymous said...

Simply tell the writer that you are a quite popular and politically incorrect thinker spreading dangerous ideas (link a couple of your most controversial posts) and that a lot of curious readers will get accidentally in contact to your website because of the book's title, giving you great publicity. He (or Jobs) will give in.

rino said...

(cont.) still better: suggest the possibility that conspiracy theorists would begin to see a link between jobs and your theses, and hint that you would not dismiss such rumours, since the controversy would rise, again, the number of visitors to your site.

David said...

>suggest the possibility that conspiracy theorists would begin to see a link between jobs and your theses<

Okay, wait a minute. I honestly thought Jobs and our Steve DID have the same "theses." Jobs is portrayed as a hardnosed non-politically-correct guy who, for example, makes female students cry by answering their emails to him in a harsh way.

Many is the time our Steve has pointed out that Apple is not NAM-friendly regarding its employment practices. Jobs doesn't hire many blacks. I always thought this strongly implied that Jobs is an objective HBD'er.

I thought Jobs was secretly one of us.

I still think Jobs is secretly one of us.

If you look at his actions, it's obvious he is.

crawfurdmuir said...

License the name. There is precedent.

In 1982, when Apple Computer attempted to trademark the name Macintosh, its application was denied on the grounds that the proposed trade name phonetically infringed upon the rights of McIntosh Labs, a maker of high-fidelity audio equipment. Steve Jobs was forced to enter into a licensing agreement with McIntosh Labs.

There is some protection even when a trademark conflicts with a long-established copyright or with the common-law right of a person to his own name. I heard on good authority some years ago that the Scottish operation of the McDonald's restaurant chain once sent a cease-and-desist letter to the owner of a rural inn called Macdonald's. Unfortunately for the fast-food giant, the inn was owned by a member of clan Macdonald, and had been in his family for centuries. The irate Scot responded by threatening to hale the company into Lyon Court, an venerable institution having jurisdiction over all questions of name and arms in Scotland. Apparently the chain's executives were inonplussed upon receipt of such a recondite message, but quickly decided to drop the matter when their Scottish solicitors advised them of the unlikelihood that they would prevail, and of the Court's powers to levy the ancient penalty of "horning" - a fine that doubles for every day of continued violation.

Udolpho.com said...

for god's sakes get some adsense up at least, Steve

rino said...

> Okay, wait a minute. I honestly thought Jobs and our Steve DID have the same "theses."

http://themacfeed.com/2010/02/opinion-apple-race-and-the-media/

VG said...

First of all, I would suggest getting the isteve.com working again. The blogspot domain is owned by google so don't be surprised if your blog suddenly disappears. That has happened with others before.

Reg C├Žsar said...

The question is, which is better: a legal solution, or a marketing solution?

Ries and Trout (names we needn't introduce to marketing professionals) once made the counterintuitive argument that the genericization of your trademark should be encouraged, as far (but just as far) as the line over which you could lose it to public domain.

E.g., Kleenex, and (in the South, at least) Coke.

The more lips "iSteve" is on, in whatever context, the better.

What we need is iSteve: the Movie, our Steve's movie, to compete with the book, and to make our man's research better known.

At any rate, try to get Sailer v. Jobs on Drudge!

Default User said...

I have the same problem.

A search on my name brings up lots of Microsoft stuff. Perhaps we could form a class action of some kind.

Baloo said...

See if you can get Drudge to run a headline:
COMPUTER PLUTOCRAT STEALS POPULAR BLOGGER'S TRADEMARK NAME!!

munch said...

If you ask for free advice, that is what it will be worth. For one, why does anyone assume Apple or Steve Jobs have any legal interest in the term "iSteve" because it is the title of a book about them? Maybe Simon and Shuester or the author depending on the terms of their agreement, but Apple?

I am a lawyer, but I never give legal advice to someone who has not signed a retainer and is not paying me big.

Anonymous said...

James said- If you owned the domain name you could sell it, but I gather you did not.

Strictly speaking no one owns a domain name though if it corresponds to the name you use in business ie IBM and you had it first, your grounds for a claim, as the user of that domain, is usually strongest.

Or am I wrong here?

Al said...

"I'd wager that iSteve.com will see quite an increase in traffic if you just keep your mouth shut, no?"

It should also get an increase if iSteve doesn't keep his mouth shut. I would try to take advantage of the free publicity as well as trying to get some cash to change the name

Anonymous said...

First off, the whole "i" thing was started by Apple and Jobs in 1996. You registered your domain in 1999. They might nip back at you.

Secondly, it is the publisher of the book you should have a gripe with, not Apple or Jobs. Their book and they named it.

Also, if I know SJ (and oddly enough...I actually do), he'll never let them publish the book with that stupid name. I'm sure he cringed, if not worse, when he saw the "iSteve" part, let alone the rest. It's probably only a working title and will be changed before publication.

Another thing is, why is this name so valuable to you? Other than the time you've utilized it, it really doesn't fit what it is you do. I'd say it's more of a disservice to your excellent writings. Think about it: iSteve sounds like an Apple Fanboy blog for people who use Apple gadgets.

But finally, I'd listen to the sage advice of some of the others here: sit on it and wait. Because in the long-shot that they DO end up using that name, you'll make far more money selling them the domain than anything you'd ever get in court. Assuming if a court would even hear the case at all.

Anonymous said...

Are you indigent, Steve?

If not, that's not some nerve you have asking for "pro bono" legal representation!