You may or may not know that I was building a site for children’s art. I bought the domain name crackerjackartist.com. You know, cracker jack in the ol’ “a person or thing of marked excellence” way. At any rate, after working on it for weeks and weeks, doing research and making various promotional material, I received a letter from Frito-Lay, care of a messenger that made me sign for it, that told me to cease and desist any further claim to the domain name crackerjackartist.com.

It also included phrases like, “You should be aware that the mere act of registering a domain name which is identical or similar to another’s trademark may be considered an act of “cyberpiracy,” as the term is identified by the Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, which is an actionable offense.”
I wrote back:

February 9, 2004
Faith S. James
Re: Crackerjackartist.com

Dear Faith S. James,

It is with surprise that I read your letter. It was in no way my intention to try to rip of Frito-Lay by using the name crackerjackartist.com. In the dictionary, crackerjack is a term used for “marked excellence” (which will be the page heading for every page in the site). Crackerjackartist.com was set up to be a place for children ages eight to seventeen to show their writing, art and photo work. I fail to see how anyone would confuse the two things.

I’m just one person; not a huge corporation with patent lawyers to check things out for me. I guess I’ll have to take your word for it that I’ve somehow inadvertently done some kind of infringement.

Is there anyway I could get you to look at the site and decide for yourself that it in no way is any kind of threat to your company? By perusing the pages, I’m sure you will find that it is purely an educational tool for schools and parents to help their students and children. I have invested so much time and effort in this project and I have so many teachers around the country awaiting the site launch on March 1st that it is a huge inconvenience to me to have to change all my press and published materials. I beg you to reconsider.

If you are interested in finding out more about me personally, as a way of judging my character, you can find out more about me on my on art and photo site here: www.leahpeah.com . I am an artist, photographer and contributing writer.

If, after looking the site over, you still feel the same way, I will relinquish my rights to the domain name, but I’m hoping you’ll see that I in no way pose a threat to you or the popcorn in a box called cracker jacks.

Feel free to contact me by phone to discuss this matter if you wish. Or, I’ll be looking for another letter from you.

Sincerely,
Leah Peterson

I didn’t send it registered mail, which was not smart in retrospect. Last week I received another letter that basically said they haven’t received a letter from me and that they wanted to hear from me ASAP or else. So, I called, got her FAX and email and sent the letter again.

The reply:

“We acknowledge receipt of your email with thanks. Please note that while we appreciate your position we simply cannot allow anyone to register a domain name which will dilute our famous CRACKER JACK trademark, regardless of the content of the website with which the name is being used.

Therefore, we must ask again that you confirm in writing within seven (7) days that you will contact your registrar and abandon this domain name. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

And here is my favorite part. They gave me some suggestions:

“For your convenience, we note that the following generic domain names were available at the time this letter was drafted:

excellentartist.com
greatyoungartist.com
wonderfulartist.com
fantasticartist.com
marvelousartist.com”

It’s funny and sad.

I gave up the right to the domain and I guess I’m moving on.
But I’m a little bitter….

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