April 22, 2009

More IPR Conflicts [9:13 am]

I have never, as Steven Colbert puts it, “twatted,” but we all knew that this was coming: Lawyers Enter Twitter Tempest (pdf)

In February, Adam Robb Rucinsky began poking fun at Ms. Freeman online using her byline and Restaurant Girl, which is the name of her Daily News column and her blog.

Mr. Rucinsky, a 30-year-old part-time art dealer who uses his middle name as his last name when he writes, sends silly blurbs on Twitter and writes inane blog postings that purport to reflect Ms. Freeman’s musings about New York City restaurants, like “Governor of Texas raving about Secession on TV all week. Must be great word of mouth for Bouley!” His fake Restaurant Girl also ventures into more cosmic concerns: “Does anyone know what happens to all the chocolate bunnies no one bought for Easter? Are they put to sleep?”

To try to put a stop to it all, Ms. Freeman had lawyers from a Beverly Hills firm send Mr. Rucinsky a stern letter ordering him to stop using the names Restaurant Girl and Danyelle Freeman by the end of this month.

His joke infringes on her rights to her trademark, Restaurant Girl, the lawyers wrote. He should stop using that name or Ms. Freeman’s name in parody form on the Internet, the letter said.

Mr. Rucinsky, who has been talking to his own lawyers and doesn’t plan to budge, said he started the Twitter parody and a subsequent blog as a creative writing exercise. He thought he had found a rich target in Ms. Freeman’s style, which melds the top-of-the-head immediacy of a blog with the breezy tone of a late-night phone call from a friend on her way home from a night of sangria and tacos.

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