Jeanne M. Hamburg, Baker Botts LLP

Mastercard threatens to sue

Sun Jul 1 03:57:48 MDT 2001


On or around May 29, 2001, Mastercard International Incorporated initiated contact with staff at regarding alleged trademark infringement. Since then, lawyers on behalf of Mastercard have harassed and threatened and our upstream ISP over several parodies of their "Priceless" trademark/advertising campaign.

In order to make everyone aware of this harassment and stupidity, we are reproducing the correspondance between Mastercard and Attrition/Inficad (our ISP). Also included are several other relevant links regarding Mastercard, the 'Priceless' campaign, and more.

The spoofs that prompted Mastercard to contact us. (Offline. Search google for "priceless spooofs" and you will find tons.)

Several other similiar spoofs not found on

Comedyzine web site also harassed.

rec.humor.funny Usenet group/moderator harassed.

Amusing response from Brad Templeton

MasterCard lawsuit gives Ralph Nader 'priceless' publicity

MasterCard sues Dan Quiggle

Mon, 4 Jun 2001 -- Brian Matthews forwards me mail sent to Inficad from Mastercard Lawyers. This is the first I heard about this whole ordeal. [mc001.html]

Mon, 4 Jun 2001 -- Despite not reading the MS Word document, I reply to Theresa Melody and Jeanne Hamburg and explain the problem with sending MS Word documents. [mc002.html]

Tue, 29 May 2001 -- The previous mail prompts me to check my unused account since it is the listed POC for the domain. I also check all relevant aliases on Attrition (root, postmaster, abuse, legal, staff, etc) for any other contact. This was the only one I found. [mc003.html]

Mon, 4 Jun 2001 -- I reply from my Dimensional address as well. This is now two times I have replied to the lawyers. I mention this because later Jeanne Hamburg will claim I had never replied to any of her correspondance. [mc004.html]

Thu, 21 Jun 2001 -- Inficad forwards me mail from Hannah Amentler (Inficad General Manager) to Jeanne Hamburg (Mastercard Lawyer). Not the quoted material below, and Mastercard threatening legal action against Inficad claiming they are a 'contributory infringer'. [mc005.html]

Thu, 21 Jun 2001 -- Inficad forwards additional mail. Note that it wasn't until June 18, some fourteen days after their intitial mail, that they include a list of what they consider infringing. [mc006.html]

Thu, 21 Jun 2001 -- Inficad forwards more mail. As you can see, Hannah Amentler has been very responsive and helpful. Despite this, and despite my personal replies from both and, they do not contact me until shortly after this mail. [mc007.html]

Thu, 21 Jun 2001 -- The first text message from Mastercard's lawyers to Note their demand that I reply by June 22. This effectively 'forces' me to comply with their demands, or act without having time to consult a lawyer. [mc008.html]

Mon, 25 Jun 2001 -- Because I didn't reply by the next business day, Mastercard contacts Inficad again (at 7:55am) the day after their irrational deadline. [mc009.html]

Tue, 26 Jun 2001 -- By this day, I was able to consult various friends and solicit their opinions on the best course of action. I send my reply to their letter (now my third direct mail) to them. [mc010.html]

Wed, 27 Jun 2001 -- Mastercard replies providing me a list of what they consider trademark infringement. It is ironic (read: hypocritical) that they also write back with ".. our client .. does expect the courtesy of a prompt reply." [mc011.html]

Wed, 27 Jun 2001 -- That same day I reply back and let Jeanne Hamburg know that I don't agree with her client's position, and ask her to cite the cases she mentions. [mc012.html]

Wed, 27 Jun 2001 -- I also share the initial mail with Declan McCullagh. He asks if he can post it to his Politech mail list, and I agree. He CC's the Mastercard lawyers and encourages them to reply. [mc013.html]

Thu, 28 Jun 2001 -- Almost 24 hours later, I receive an "out of office" reply from Jeanna Hamburg. I strongly suspect this was manually sent. Instead of receiving this minutes or hours later, it isn't until Declan McCullagh posts this to his list that the OOR reply comes in. I would hazard a guess that the vacation is conveniently timed to allow Mastercard's lawyers to consider their next move. [mc014.html]

Wed, 27 Jun 2001 -- Thomas Leavitt replies to the Politech posting and brings a dose of reality to the table. [mc050.html]

Thu, 28 Jun 2001 -- Thomas Wicker replies to the Politech posting challenging Mastercard's stance. [mc051.html]

Sat, 30 Jun 2001 -- Declan McCullagh posts a brief story on his weekly column about the incident. [mc052.html]

Jericho (jericho[at]

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