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[humorix] Book Review: Guide To Defending Against Lawsuits

Book Review: Guide To Defending Against Lawsuits
Jon Splatz, jonsplatz@i-want-a-website.com
October 29, 1999

Sue Peena's new book, "The Illustrated Complete In A
Nutshell Idiot's Guide To Learning The Zen And Art Of
Defending Against Lawsuits In 21 Days For Dummies", focuses
on how to work-around American's out-of-control legal
system.  It's a great read, although some of the author's
suggestions are a bit too much.

The release of this book is quite timely with recent
events.  As I've ranted earlier[1], the US legal system,
especially in regard to intellectual property, has run
amok.  Amazon's patent on "one-click shopping"[2], Unisys'
lock on .GIF files[3], IDG's tirade against "For Dummies"
references[4], attempts to patent the human genome[5]...
the list goes on and on.  And let's not forget Humorix's
ongoing legal dispute with Microsoft[6].

Something needs to be done about this situation before it
gets out of control and a Lawyerclysm occurs.  Thankfully,
Ms. Peena's book is the answer.  Written by a former
ambulance chaser who had trouble sleeping at night and
decided to end her evil ways, this book provides timely and
useful suggestions for beating the system.

Chapter 4, "So you've been sued by a big evil corporation
like Microsoft", is particularly enriching.  Some of her
suggestions include:

* Claim that your company does not violate any trademarks
owned by the Big Evil Corporation (BEC) because you are in
a completely different business.  "We produce _quality_
software," you might argue. "Clearly this is a field
untouched by Microsoft."  

* Argue that your company has employed prior usage or art. 
For example, in a case against IDG, you could argue, "Back
in the 1980's, we published a book called, 'MS-DOS For Unix
Admins Who Are Forced To Use DOS Because Their Dummy Boss
Told Them So'. Two years later we published the popular
title, 'The UNIX fsck Program For fscking Morons'. The
concept of insulting our readers by giving our books
derogatory titles is clearly OUR idea."

* Claim that the BEC's trademark is in the public domain
because of dilution.  In court, this line of defense would
sound like, "'Microsoft Windows' is in common usage; the
term is commonly used to describe small, flexible pieces of
plexi-glass.  'ActiveX' and 'DirectX' are commonly used by
porn magnates to describe the content of their magazines. 
As for 'Visual Basic', my high school Physics teacher used
the term 'Visual Basic System' to describe the process of
_visualizing_ a problem to make it more _basic_ and
simple.  And don't get me started about 'Bob', 'Word', and

* Dodge the lawsuit altogether by relocating your company
to a small, obscure country that has sensible intellectual
property laws (i.e. none), preferably with an easy-to-bribe
government.  Even the most powerful BEC can't touch you,
unless, of course, they've already relocated to the rogue
country and dominated the government.  

That last suggestion seems a bit far-fetched.  However, I
showed this book to several other Humorix staffers and they
seemed quite enthusiastic about it.  "This would end our
legal dispute with Microsoft real quick," one said.  Mr. G.
E. Trich, our Investor Relations Liason, pointed out, "We
could do one better by acquiring some obscure Pacific
island and establishing our own rogue, independent nation. 
It could be called Humorixia."

Even though the book contains a few other outlandish ideas,
"...Defending Against Lawsuits..." is the perfect addition
to the bookshelf of any person worried about getting sued
(i.e. just about everybody). Attached below is the table of
contents.  Write me at jonsplatz@i-want-a-website.com

Table of Contents

 0. Opening statements
 1. A fool and his money are soon sued
 2. Life's a lawsuit, then you die
 3. Courtroom proceedings are nothing like "Matlock"
 4. So you've been sued by a big evil corporation like
 5. Buying Congressmen on the stock exchange: bribe low,
    sell high
 6. Establish your own government in 21 days
 7. There's nothing wrong with clogging the legal system
    with frivolous lawsuits... as long as you're the one
    filing them
 8. Steal this book... legally
 9. Attack of the killer Y2K lawyers: why 1900 could be a
    very bad year for you
10. Trademark dilution... for dummies
11. Closing arguments


[1] http://i-want-a-website.com/about-linux/sep99.shtml#Lawyerclysm
[2] http://slashdot.org/articles/99/10/22/0959240.shtml
[3] http://slashdot.org/articles/99/08/29/0722236.shtml
[4] http://slashdot.org/articles/99/10/28/1636205.shtml
[5] http://slashdot.org/articles/99/10/26/082245.shtml
[6] http://i-want-a-website.com/about-linux/sep99.shtml#Patent-Grab2

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