In our time we’ve seen some pretty epic responses to bogus legal threats, but it appears we have a new contender for the throne. As a whole bunch of lawyers suddenly emailed me this morning, it appears there’s been a followup to our earlier story on the American Bankers Association claiming that bank routing numbers are covered by copyright, and threatening a website that had created a useful way to look up those routing numbers. The website, run by Greg Thatcher, was doing a public service, getting such info from the Federal Reserve’s website, and making it much easier for people to find the numbers.
Thatcher is now being represented, pro bono, by Andrew Delaney of Martin & Associates, and his response letter to Nigel Howard, the lawyer from Covington & Burling LLP (the ABA’s lawyer who sent the threat letter) is one of the most beautiful responses to a bogus threat letter you’ll ever see. It gets bonus points for its usage of footnotes (which is to say, do not skip the footnotes). You really need to read the whole thing. I’d quote parts of the legal analysis, but you have to see the whole thing in context with the footnotes (linked above or embedded below). I will, however, quote the closing paragraph, to give you a sense of the tone of the letter:
If you do feel it’s necessary to sue our client, we are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. and we have lollipops for people who serve process. So if you do file a complaint and send someone over with a summons, please have them wear something with a bit of purple… we all like purple.
Oh, and then there’s this:
© Andrew B. Delaney and Jorge V. Pivar-Federici. All rights reserved. But wait . . . fair use allowed and encouraged. Actually, go ‘head and publish the whole thing as is. We don’t care.
Nicely done. Nicely done. I may have to send them a bag of lollipops.