NYT: Breaking Paywall? Fine. Using Trademark? Meet Our Lawyer

  • Share
  • Read Later

Here’s something unexpected: David Hayes, the coder who worked out how to get around the New York Times’ website paywall with just four lines of Javascript has been contacted by the NYT legal team. Okay, that part might’ve been just a matter of time, but here’s the unexpected part – they were complaining about his use of the “New York Times” trademark, not the fact that he was telling people how to bypass the paywall.

On his blog, Hayes shared the letter he received:

I am writing concerning your “NYTClean” bookmarklet, posted at http://euri.ca/2011/03/21/get-around-new-york-times-20-article-limit/.

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 NYTimes.com, and various blogs and electronic media products. NYTCo’s NYTimes.com 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’s 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]

Hayes went on to say that he planned to comply with the request, adding “I never intended to name the script in the first place, I just needed something to shot up on the toolbar.” Nonetheless, am I the only person who finds it surprising that this was the first reaction from the Times on the subject? There’s not even a mention of the fact that Hayes was undermining their much-discussed paywall, which is… odd. Does this mean that there’s another shoe to drop at some point, or that even the NYT doesn’t really like its own paywall?

More on Techland:

Twitter Your Way to a Free New York Times

Kindle Readers Get Free Access to NYTimes.com

Hate a Website? Block It from Google