Round 4: My letter in response to Intel's continued harassment

Added 07/17/96

June 14, 1996

Carol Smith
Intel Corporation
2200 Mission College Blvd.
Santa Clara, CA 95052-8119

Dear Ms. Smith,

As you are aware, I've been trying to contact you via phone for many days. I realize you have a busy schedule, and phone contact is often difficult. Upon hearing of my messages, your administrative assistant indicated that you have "nothing to say to" me. You might not have realized that I wasn't calling to hear what you have to say, so much as I was calling to let you hear what I have to say. Obviously you had some desire to communicate with me, as you contacted my attorney in search of answers to your questions.

My purpose in writing this letter is to reiterate my position regarding my logo, and demand an end to your corporate harassment of me, my family, and my web site. Barring your cease of hostilities, I will make a proposal whereby I will cease and desist publishing my web site, in exchange for your purchase of my web site, and trademark applications. In order to accomplish these goals, I must digress to review some past circumstances.

Since I started my web site in July 1995, I have been under constant threats and harassment from Intel employees and their attorneys.

As you acknowledged to my attorney, your office sent me a letter accusing me of trademark infringement in the use of my Intel Secrets logo. Months prior to your conversation, I spent at least an hour of the phone with the author of the letter - Ms. Erin Townley. I educated Ms. Townley on the salient points regarding my position.

  1. My logo was not confusingly similar to the Intel Corporate logo, as proven by the lack of any tangible evidence to support such a claim. I have never received a letter indicating that anybody had ever confused my web site, with the official Intel web site, nor my logo with the Intel logo. Likewise, Ms. Townley admitted that Intel hadn't received a single letter or complaint indicating that any such confusion had ever occurred.
  2. I do not provide any goods or services covered by any Intel trademark, nor does Intel provide any goods or services covered by my trademark.
  3. I am not profiteering from my web site, whereby you can claim that I'm using the recognition of your logo for my profitable gain. I do not sell or barter the services provided on my web site, they are all provided free of charge.
  4. A small portion of my logo is an obvious form of satire - completely protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

After confronting Ms. Townley with these points, she initiated a phone call to me the following day. Acting as an authorized agent of Intel, she made a covenant with me, that Intel would "drop the whole issue" without any reservations. When asked why Intel was willing to retract their allegation, she mentioned the same points listed above. I advised her that I had received legal advise to the effect: "Intel doesn't have a legal leg to stand on, but it will cost (me) millions of dollars to prove it." Ms. Townley replied "yeah, that was the common opinion around here, too." Therefore, let me be succinct: your allegation is bogus - and both of us know it. Whereas you are Intel's lead counsel on trademark issues, I believe it is natural to assume that Ms. Townley received your legal advise, and your permission to engage in the aforementioned covenant.

In lieu of the fact that Intel was engaging in a covenant with me, and officially retracted their allegation of trademark infringement, I asked Ms. Townley to provide such proof in writing. My position was simple: the trademark infringement allegation was made in writing, therefore the retraction must also be provided in writing. She refused. I tried to convince Ms. Townley that it was possible to draft such a written covenant that protected your trademark rights, without abdicating them to me, my web site, or any other entity, but also acknowledged that I had not, and would not engage in competition with Intel, whereas your trademark rights were infringed upon. Ms. Townley seemed intrigued by my suggestion, and promised to research the issue, and give me a response. She never fulfilled her promise of giving me a response.

In case Ms. Townley's lack of response was indicative of Intel's desire to retract their own covenant of retraction, I'm still awaiting a corrected letter alleging trademark infringement. I informed Ms. Townley that the original letter was filled with so many errors, both factual and clerical, that I would not sign such a legal document. In essence, the letter was so unprofessionally written, and filled with so many mistakes, that it was disgraceful to have been produced by the legal department of a multibillion dollar corporation. I asked Ms. Townley, as an attorney, if she would ever recommend that a client sign such a legal document, filled with so many errors. She unequivocally replied: "NO." If you intend to breach the covenant Intel has already made with me, and resurrect the allegation of trademark infringement, then I would suggest that you draft a new letter, one that isn't disgraceful to you, or your department - one that I can take seriously. Included with any such letter, I expect you to provide copies of applicable U.S. case law which substantiates your claim that a satirical modification of a logo, which is not confusingly similar, which is used for non-commercial purposes, in a non-related trademark category, in providing dissimilar services for non-profit purposes, is still a trademark violation. Without such proof of case law, I will have a hard time taking any such letter seriously.

During my discussions with Ms. Townley, I emphasized that my logo was an obvious form of satire, protected by the U.S. Constitution. She disagreed that it was "obvious" but recognized that satire was protected by the U.S. Constitution. I told her of my intentions to make the satire of my logo more obvious, and embed a disclaimer that I am not associated with Intel, into the new logo (a similar disclaimer has always existed on the bottom of each web page article). She agreed that these measures would remove any doubt and concerns that Intel had regarding my logo. Therefore I was surprised when I received a letter from my attorney, informing me of your renewed allegations. Obviously, Intel can't be trusted - either to tell the truth, or keep their promises.

I have always resisted the temptation to conclude that your corporation is intentionally harassing me, but those conclusions are becoming harder to ignore. Intel employees have sent me dozens of harassing email messages. I have received one death threat. Intel has attempted to ruin my career with false allegations of computer security violations. Intel has alleged that I have stolen trade secrets, but refuses to send me written proof of the results of their investigation. Your corporate spokesman possibly libeled me in a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper. Intel has sent me threats of legal action for alleged trademark infringement, followed by a retraction, followed by their reinstatement. Finally, your harassment is starting to financially affect me and my family, by virtue of contacting my attorney for an allegation you have already admitted is unfounded. The preponderance of evidence would suggest that Intel is systematically targeting me and my family for ostrisization, to ruin my career, and ultimately for financial ruin.

It is obvious that you would like to silence me and my web site. Thus far, you have tried many methods, all of which have left me unintimidated, and more resolute to assert my legal rights, and continue publishing my articles. However, I recognize that you have the power to send me and my family into financial ruin. You should also recognize that I have the power publicize all of the details of your corporate harassment. In any such disclosure, I would publish electronic copies of all of the correspondence between us, details of all phone conversations, including the names and email addresses of the Intel employees involved. My web site receives over 20,000 accesses per day. That number substantially increases when I advertise my web site on the various Internet news groups - something I haven't done in many months. I am consistently approached by university researchers, book authors in various countries, newspaper and magazine columnists. All of them want the same thing - details of Intel's harassment which I've had to endure. They believe there is a good story to be told, and they all want a scoop on it. Until now, I have refused an interview with any of them. Obviously, I have shown considerable restraint by keeping in confidence the depths and details of your corporate harassment. I have never demanded anything of Intel, except to cease and desist from harassing me, and let me publish my web site without fear of retribution. In contrast, Intel has shown no restraint in the depths of their corporate harassment. Your call to my attorney is further proof of such harassment - by resurrecting allegations which you had already admitted were without foundation. Without some form of written agreement between us, I'm becoming more inclined to show less restraint in my publications, and more inclined to grant interviews with the press. Eventually publication of your behavior will affect your corporate reputation, and possibly affect your bottom-line. I do not believe this is in your best interests, nor do I want to be forced into taking such action. (Obviously I could sue you, but that has even less appeal to me.) Therefore I would propose that Intel purchase my domain name, my web site, and my trademark registrations, for a price to be agreed upon, in exchange for my agreement to cease and desist from publishing my Intel Secrets web site, or any similar web site, Internet postings, or disclosing any details of such an agreement. I believe such a proposal would benefit both of us. I would live in peace without fear of further retribution, and you would have the silence of a persistent thorn in your side. If you have any further questions, please forward them directly to me. I expect, and look forward to your response.

Robert R. Collins

Intel Secrets - What Intel Doesn't Want You To Know

Send email to Intel in response to this letter Send email to me in response to this letter

Read Round 5: Intel needs outside legal help Back to Intel Vs. Collins