The US Copyright Group (USCG) plays hardball—and not just with the 16,000 peer-to-peer file-swappers it tries to push into settlements. Indeed, the lawyers behind the group are happy to use the same tactics on other anti-P2P lawyers, demanding that a rival firm change its name and settle for $25,000—or risk a court fight.
On October 8, we ran a story on the Media Copyright Group (MCG), a group of entrepreneurial midwestern lawyers who represent pornographers, including "a leading producer and distributor of adult entertainment content within the transsexual niche."
MCG uses a Chicago family law lawyer named John Steele (phone number: 1-800-DIVORCE) to file its federal copyright complaints against those accused of downloading its clients' films, and it presumably intends to follow the USCG business model by asking people to settle up for a couple thousand dollars or risk massive statutory damages (and public embarrassment) by going to court.
Our piece noted that whole sections of an MCG legal filing appeared to be lifted wholesale from USCG's own filings—ironic, given MCG's focus on copying—but it turns out that MCG's name is more problematic than its "cut-and-paste" work.
A few hours after our piece appeared, Steele received a fax from lawyers at Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver, the law firm that registered the business name "Legacy 21." Legacy 21 has filed with the state of Virginia to do business as the US Copyright Group and has also applied for a trademark on that name. The letter demanded that MCG change its own name, since it was "confusingly similar" to USCG's.
In addition, the letter demanded that the new firm pay $25,000 to Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver. If no answer came back within a week, Dunlap, Grubb, & Weaver promised to "proceed with all steps necessary to protect our client's goodwill."
Must have been a fun day.
Steele's response was made public yesterday, since he elected to take the matter directly to a federal judge. MCG has now asked the Northern District of Illinois to issue a declaratory judgment that its name is legal. In addition, it claims that Jeffrey Weaver "committed fraud" on his trademark application when he wrote that US Copyright Group is "the only company of its kind, as far as the applicant is aware."
MCG demands that USCG cover its legal costs and that USCG's trademark be cancelled.
Source: ars technica