[ Home Page | Condensed Version | The Movie | The Book | News | Blogs | Feedback / Mail List ]

Act 7: I Register "Complaint" Domain Names

On August 10, 2001, I sent a letter to Ms. Greenberg (1) to let her know that there was no way I could respond within three days – that instead I'd get back to her in about six weeks, (2) to clear up the confusion about the "ShirtBiz" link, and (3) to tell her about some interesting new domain names that I had registered when I learned that I was being sued. Here's the text of my note.

I am in receipt of your threat of August 7.

As you know, I have been asking you for nearly three months to let me know exactly what sections of which laws you believe me to be violating. In my letter of May 24 and again in my letter of July 17, I specifically volunteered to relinquish my domain name immediately if you could provide me with evidence that I was violating any law. And yet, until your most recent correspondence, you have offered me only the vaguest generalities.

Personally, I think that it's pathetic that when you finally see fit to answer my request, you do so in the form of a lawsuit. This a totally irresponsible action on your part, particularly in light of the fact that you are running up charges to your client by instigating a lawsuit rather than offering me a simple answer to a reasonable question.

And to add insult to injury, when you finally provide me with some factual information after nearly three months of unresponsiveness, you offer me only three days to research your information to determine its validity. I am extremely busy right now, and will not be able to even consider your information for a couple of weeks. I do intend to look into your allegations, and if I decide that they are valid, I will turn the domain name over to you immediately, without the necessity of you resorting to a lawsuit. I will commit to completing this research by no later than the end of next month (September 2001), hopefully by the middle of the month (but I will not commit to that).

I should mention that there is one point in your filing that caught my attention and which, after some reflection, I realize has some validity.

You say: "Also on this site Defendants include advertising, an indication that the website is being operated for commercial gain." In point of fact, the "advertising" was a link to a site operated by my girlfriend, and I gave her that link for free. I have been doing this for years; you can find similar links on other pages that I have created, including:


(By the way, that last site, AddisonWeb.com, is a continually-updated listing of all of the restaurants in Addison, Texas, which I have maintained for about five years as a public service, in a manner similar to what I'm doing with ShopsAtWillowBend.com. One noticeable difference between the two websites is that, unlike you, the Town of Addison has not threatened to sue me for trying to steer business in their direction.)

But even though the link you objected to was non-commercial in the sense that it provides me with no revenue, I can understand your objection to it, and I have removed it. I will not place any advertising of any kind on the site in the future, commercial or otherwise (unless your client wishes to place an ad, of course).

If you do decide to proceed with litigation, I hope that you are honorable enough to inform the Court that the objection you raise in that particular paragraph is no longer operative. If the Court issues an injunction based on information that you submitted that you know to be inaccurate, I feel that you will be guilty of gross and material misrepresentation.

Earlier today, I took the precaution of registering the domain names WillowBendSucks.com, WillowBendMallSucks.com, ShopsAtWillowBendSucks.com, TheShopsAtWillowBendSucks.com, and - to cover all the bases - TaubmanSucks.com. I will not create websites at those domain names unless you proceed with litigation against me, in which case those websites will contain detailed descriptions of the litigation for the benefit of anyone on the Net who wishes to follow along. As an individual with incredibly limited resources, I have found this to be an effective technique when I feel that an organization whose resources are considerably greater than mine is trying to take advantage of me. I first successfully used this technique to encourage payment from a client who refused to pay me for services rendered. As part of our settlement, that site is no longer online - but you might be interested in viewing a similar site I created at WebFeats.com/Caravan.

I am very hopeful that you will not force me to use those domain names - despite the current unpleasantness, I remain a big fan of The Shops at Willow Bend, and I would much prefer to devote my creative energies to attracting business to the mall, rather than to exposing it to public ridicule.

Again, the bottom line is that I am unable to respond to your complaint by today, but I have committed to responding by the end of September. If you feel that it's necessary to proceed with litigation rather than waiting a few weeks to see if the problem can be resolved amicably, then I guess you'll do what you feel you have to do.

Hank Mishkoff

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the practice, "sucks.com" domain names (like the ones that I registered) have become commonly used on the Web for what are generically called "complaint" websites.

I believe that the first (and possibly the best known) of these complaint websites was "WalMartSucks.com," created by a consumer who had a beef with the retailing giant. Other well known complaint domain names include LockheedMartinSucks.com (which became the subject of a legal dispute – which Lockheed Martin lost) and MichaelBloombergsucks.com (Bloomberg sued, and lost). I don't know the story behind "AOLSucks.com" – but I do know that it's still online, as are hundreds (and perhaps thousands) of complaint websites.

So basically, I was telling Taubman that they could go ahead and sue me – but if they did, I'd make sure that everyone on the Web knew about it. (Of course, if they were confident that they were treating me fairly, this should not have bothered them.) In this sense, the Web is the Great Equalizer: Sure, their resources are considerably greater than mine, but I can tell my story to millions of people, and it won't cost me a dime.

Next: Taubman Makes Me an Offer

[ Home Page | Condensed Version | The Movie | The Book | News | Blogs | Feedback / Mail List ]

©2001 Hank Mishkoff
All rights reserved.