Book Review: Guide To Defending Against Lawsuits

Book Review written by Jon Splatz on Friday, October 29, 1999

from the we-the-geeks-of-humorixia dept.

Sue Peena's new book, "The Illustrated Complete In A Nutshell Idiot's Guide To Learning The Zen And Art Of Defending Against Lawsuits In 21 Days For Dummies", focuses on how to work-around American's out-of-control legal system. It's a great read, although some of the author's suggestions are a bit too much.

The release of this book is quite timely with recent events. As I've ranted earlier, the US legal system, especially in regard to intellectual property, has run amok. Amazon's patent on "one-click shopping", Unisys' lock on .GIF files, IDG's tirade against "For Dummies" references, attempts to patent the human genome... the list goes on and on. And let's not forget Humorix's ongoing legal dispute with Microsoft.

Something needs to be done about this situation before it gets out of control and a Lawyerclysm occurs. Thankfully, Ms. Peena's book is the answer. Written by a former ambulance chaser who had trouble sleeping at night and decided to end her evil ways, this book provides timely and useful suggestions for beating the system.

Chapter 4, "So you've been sued by a big evil corporation like Microsoft", is particularly enriching. Some of her suggestions include:

  • Claim that your company does not violate any trademarks owned by the Big Evil Corporation (BEC) because you are in a completely different business. "We produce quality software," you might argue. "Clearly this is a field untouched by Microsoft."

  • Argue that your company has employed prior usage or art. For example, in a case against IDG, you could argue, "Back in the 1980's, we published a book called, 'MS-DOS For Unix Admins Who Are Forced To Use DOS Because Their Dummy Boss Told Them So'. Two years later we published the popular title, 'The UNIX fsck Program For fscking Morons'. The concept of insulting our readers by giving our books derogatory titles is clearly our idea."

  • Claim that the BEC's trademark is in the public domain because of dilution. In court, this line of defense would sound like, "'Microsoft Windows' is in common usage; the term is commonly used to describe small, flexible pieces of plexi-glass. 'ActiveX' and 'DirectX' are commonly used by porn magnates to describe the content of their magazines. As for 'Visual Basic', my high school Physics teacher used the term 'Visual Basic System' to describe the process of visualizing a problem to make it more basic and simple. And don't get me started about 'Bob', 'Word', and 'Excel'..."

  • Dodge the lawsuit altogether by relocating your company to a small, obscure country that has sensible intellectual property laws (i.e. none), preferably with an easy-to-bribe government. Even the most powerful BEC can't touch you, unless, of course, they've already relocated to the rogue country and dominated the government.

That last suggestion seems a bit far-fetched. However, I showed this book to several other Humorix staffers and they seemed quite enthusiastic about it. "This would end our legal dispute with Microsoft real quick," one said. Mr. G. E. Trich, our Investor Relations Liason, pointed out, "We could do one better by acquiring some obscure Pacific island and establishing our own rogue, independent nation. It could be called Humorixia."

Even though the book contains a few other outlandish ideas, "...Defending Against Lawsuits..." is the perfect addition to the bookshelf of any person worried about getting sued (i.e. just about everybody). Attached below is the table of contents. Write me at jonsplatz [at] i-want-a-website [dot] com.

Table of Contents

  1. Opening statements
  2. A fool and his money are soon sued
  3. Life's a lawsuit, then you die
  4. Courtroom proceedings are nothing like "Matlock"
  5. So you've been sued by a big evil corporation like Microsoft
  6. Buying Congressmen on the stock exchange: bribe low, sell high
  7. Establish your own government in 21 days
  8. There's nothing wrong with clogging the legal system with frivolous lawsuits... as long as you're the one filing them
  9. Steal this book... legally
  10. Attack of the killer Y2K lawyers: why 1900 could be a very bad year for you
  11. Trademark dilution... for dummies
  12. Closing arguments

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