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At Christmas, Lawyer's Holiday Greeting Is a Cease-and-Desist Letter

Around the country, several local communities are abandoning planned holiday displays, reports Forbes. But the cancellations aren't the result of budget cuts, or even First Amendment-based claims of improper commingling of church and state activity. Instead, threats of copyright infringement actions are shutting down the displays.

The town of Louisville, Ky., canceled a display based on the book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" when it received a cease-and-desist letter from the estate of children's author Dr. Seuss, threatening to sue for copyright violations. The irony wasn't lost on Louisville's mayor, Jerry Abramson, who remarked (paraphrasing the book) that "It appears these lawyers' hearts are two sizes too small." Meanwhile, the town of Medford, Mass., was able to stick with plans for its Christmas celebration, but only by agreeing to call it something other than "The Jingle Bells Festival."

These aren't isolated incidents, either. Apparently, when Christmas comes around, many copyright lawyers find that cease-and-desist letters are more of a holiday tradition than sending Christmas cards, as owners of various names and activities associated with holiday traditions seek to protect their rights.

So yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus -- and his name is trademarked. If that doesn't make him real, what could?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on December 10, 2008 at 02:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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