numbers for people.

In which I get a quasi-legal letter from New York

The backstory: a week or two ago, a newspaper based in New York started displaying a subscription dialogue over top of every article past 20 in a four week period. So I wrote 3 lines of javascript to hide that, dragged it into my bookmarks toolbar, thanked my sources and forgot about it.

It’s been a fun week, since then 60 000 people have used the link, I was a guest on NPR’s OnPoint with Tom Ashbrooke (syndicated to over 1 million listeners), Slashdotted and even mentioned by Der Spiegel.

I heard from the newspaper in question today in an email:

I am writing concerning your “NYTClean” bookmarklet, posted at

As you obviously know, The New York Times Company has used its ‘The New York Times’ trademark since at least as early as 1851 and today offers numerous products and services under its famous ‘The New York Times’ trademark, including its online version of The New York Times at the URL, and various blogs and electronic media products. NYTCo’s website receives over 15,000,000 unique visitors each month. NYTCo owns numerous registrations for its ‘The New York Times’ trademark in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Canadian Trade-Marks Office and these trademarks are among the company‚Äôs most valuable assets.

We object to your use of our famous “NYT” trademark in connection with your application and your promotion thereof, which constitutes trademark dilution and trademark infringement under U.S. and Canadian trademark law.

Accordingly, we ask that you immediately cease use of the “NYT” trademark in connection with this application. This email is without prejudice to any action that may be necessary to protect the valuable rights of NYTCo in its intellectual property.

Very truly yours,

Rxxxxxx Sxxxxx
Senior Counsel
The New York Times Company
[Contact information followed]

I’m a big fan of the newspaper in question; I would’ve taken the page down in exchange for a manila envelope with leftover detritus from Bill Safire‘s old desk. But I guess when you have a hammer (legal department) everything looks like a nail (needs to be mailed some legal boilerplate).

A few people have offered to mirror the code (and one or two JFDidI), but I expect I’ll end up complying with the request and call it NYNewspaperClean or something (I never intended to name the script in the first place, I just needed something to show up on the toolbar).

Any thoughts?

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