[LINK] 'Yellow Pages' as a Trademark

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Fri Jan 18 10:44:22 EST 2008

I've received a 'nastygram' purporting to be on behalf of Telstra/Sensis.

It says that the web-page at 
"represents out clients' trade mark, in a manner which is not correct".

I am requested to:
-   "use the [R inside a circle] symbol next to the trade mark ...";
-   "use the name of the product as a noun (eg "the Yellow Pages
      [R inside a circle] Directory".

The final paras. are at the pleasant end of nastygram expression.

I'd be interested in your thoughts.

After you've worked out what *you* think about it, my draft letter is 
below.  Suggestions for improvement appreciated.


Mr Bruce J. Akhurst
Group Managing Director
Telstra Media Services and CEO Sensis Pty Ltd
242 Exhibition St
Melbourne   VIC   3000

Dear Mr Akhurst

Re:    Use of the Term 'Yellow Pages'

I've received a letter dated 18 December 2007 from a Partner of a law 
firm Piper Alderman in Adelaide, purporting to be acting on your 
behalf, and requesting that I insert a symbol into a web-page.  The 
letter was incorrectly addressed to the facilities provider rather 
than to the content provider, and hence took nearly a month to reach 

The web-page in question dates from 1995, and has not been amended 
since March 1996.

It offered a directory of 'Electronic Communications Resources' for 
Information Systems (IS) Academics across the world, through the 
Association for Information Systems.  In a section entitled 'Ways of 
Finding IS People and IS Departments', it included:
"For more general resources, try:
*   the world fax number directory;
*   Telstra's (Australian) White Pages;
*   Telstra's (Australian) Yellow Pages (the first commercial yellow 
pages in the world on the net)."

The site as a whole contains a couple of thousand pages, and has 
accumulated something approaching 25 million hits;  but the hit-count 
on this particular page has contributed a minuscule proportion of 
them, and most recent hits would doubtless be merely search-engine 

I find it absolutely extraordinary that your company would fund a 
partner in a law firm to waste time and money searching out harmless 
pages and writing 'nastygrams' of this kind - energy that could 
instead be invested in improvements to the product.

Note that the use of the term on the page is quite general, and there 
is no evidence of any attempt to appropriate the term, nor to benefit 
commercially or otherwise from its use, nor to denigrate the IP 
owner.  In fact it promotes your site, and speaks in a complimentary 
manner about it.  Under the circumstances, the letter is not only 
inappropriate, but oppressive.

Yours sincerely, etc.

Roger Clarke                  http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng  Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program      University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW

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