Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(May 1995)

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Subject: Trademark infringement
From: leigh @ nbi . com (Leigh Melton)
Organization: Another Girl, Another Planet
Date: Tue, 02 May 95 15:18:18 EDT
To: list-managers @ greatcircle . com, jgeorge @ nbi . com


I'm a relatively new list manager, since March 9 of this year.  I have
gone through my trial by overquoting, irrelevancy and flame-posting but
so far both me and my lists have survived.  As of yesterday afternoon I
have another concern, however.

One of the mailing lists we house here at is the Barbie-L
mailing list.  I know this seems like a complete bit of fluff, and for
the most part it is;  however collecting such dolls is a hobby for many
people and we enjoy talking about it.

Yesterday I received a piece of mail from the sysop of a certain BBS in
the US.  I shall quote only one part of it here, and then ask a question
or two of you more experienced list-managers.

 -*begin inclusion*-

... [We are in the midst of developing a] project at Mattel.  As you may
already know, Barbie is a trademarked and copyrighted brandname, and is
subject to closely protected by Mattel.  We have worked very closely
with them to establish an "official" Internet presence that accurately
reflects the quality of the Barbie brandname.  When a few weeks we will
be unveiling, full Internet access to [BBS name], as well as an
incredible array of WWW pages devoted to our hobby.  We would like to
work with you as well as others, [mention of certain list members],
etc.. I'll be posting email to each of you in the next few weeks to
determine how we can work with each other and still conform to the
legalities of trademark and copyright and licensing laws.

 -*end inclusion*-

For one thing, the feeling I got from this message is that he does not
approve of any Mattel-related talk which does not fall under the aegis
of his project (I have not yet confirmed that such a project is indeed
forthcoming).  I did not particularly like the references to trademark
and copyright;  as far as I know merely discussing a subject is not
infringing the rights of anyone.  If this were true every computer
manufacturer or software publisher in the world would be in court every

Another point I did not care for was "we will be posting email [sic] to
each of you", meaning my list members.  I have the WHO feature of
Majordomo disabled for the privacy of my list members, in order to avoid
advertising annoyances, such as this one may turn out to be.  This BBS
is by paid subscription only, and as such it seems that he is trying to
use my list for marketing purposes.

This is also a person who, in earlier paragraphs, stated his intention
to "post a call for votes" and then create his own newsgroup - in the
rec.* hierarchy.  I have notified him of proper procedure in creating a
newsgroup, and pointed him to various documents on the subject, but his
response was "I've hired someone to learn all that for me, I don't have
time."  This tells me that this gentleman does not know custom and
procedure, and really doesn't care all that much about it one way or the

My overriding concern at the moment is that a) I not have to deal with
this person as I did with Canter & Siegal lo these many moons ago (I was
one of those lucky people who received threats of personal lawsuits) and
that b) my list members are not bombarded with advertising or threats of
lawsuits for merely breathing the word "Barbie".

Any advice which is offered will be gratefully accepted.  I would rather
be pro-active in this instead of waiting and being forced to react.


      *leigh @
 nbi .
 com  As a matter of fact, I _do_ speak for*
     "Consequences, schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich." -Daffy Duck

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