Cyberlaw: cyberlaw cyberlaw cyberlaw cyberlaw cyberlaw cyberlaw

(Long post. Forgive me. This is too funny.)

This blog deals with many issues, including cyberlaw. In fact, cyberlaw is one of the categories I use. Cyberlaw is a term used to describe law (or regulation, or control) on the Internet, or in cyberspace. My profile on my Law School’s website (which I must update!) says that my research interests include cyberlaw. I wrote a paper last year called Minerva’s Mouse: The Challenge Of Cyberlaw that had a whole section on what cyberlaw is or isn’t. I also presented a different paper at the Society of Legal Scholars last September in the Cyberlaw subject section. The convenor of that section, Prof. Steve Hedley (UCC), does great work with the cyberlaw mailing list. He also maintains a list of graduate level law courses in cyberlaw.

To be honest I’m not a huge fan of cyberlaw as a term but it’s quite a common one and a lot of people use/understand it, not least the authors of noted textbooks: examples include Brian Fitzgerald (QUT, Australia) who edited a two-volume set called Cyberlaw (I had the pleasure of meeting him last summer in Boston. He’s cool). On my library desk, I have a copy of the new edition of Cyberlaw: problems of policy and jurisprudence in the information age by Bellia, Berman & Post. Some day, I hope to visit the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School (check out their website at http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/). Newcomers, of course – sure Harvard Law School has taught courses with cyberlaw in the title since 1994…

All this is trivial, though, when you compare it with the importance of the use of the word cyberlaw by a law firm called Cyberlaw(R) PC (their website, at the inventive address of cyberlaw.pro, is here; he has a blog called Cyberlawg. Yes, we must be aware of Mr. Menhart’s trademark (which he doesn’t actually have, as it’s pending) and as the EFF reports, he’s already tried to take a shot at a cyberlaw blogger, Michael Grossman (who uses Cyberblawg); not sure why as Grossman’s blog is relatively new and quite quiet. Maybe Menhart should try pick on someone else. There’s loads to choose from, especially in the light of his delightfully expansive trademark application, which includes gems like:

Providing a website that features information on the development of international law, regulations, legal policies, and legal practices in a manner that promotes global governance by all types of organizations;

and not to mention

Providing information relating to legal affairs

You can see the trademark application here – serial number 77341910. Note that this is a “Newly filed application, not yet assigned to an examining attorney” and nothing more.

I look forward to receiving a notice from the esteemed cyberlawyer. Bring it on ;)

I read about this sorry affair on one of my favourite technology law (or cyberlaw?) blogs by Eric Goldman. Here’s his post. A separate post came from Peter Black (also of QUT, and also interested in cyberlaw), so cheers to Peter for that.

Goldman did a little bit of digging and found that the word cyberlaw had been used in news stories back as far as the early 1990s. He mentions Jonathan Rosenoer’s column on AOL; I found (from an archived usenet group) that Rosenoer even had a trademark (at the time!).

CyberLaw ™ is published solely as an educational service. The author may be contacted at …; questions and comments may be posted on America Online (go to keyword “CYBERLAW“). Copyright (c) 1993 Jonathan Rosenoer; All Rights Reserved. CyberLaw is a trademark of Jonathan Rosenoer.

It was indeed registered by him but was designated as abandoned in 2000 (US trademark office serial number 75085442). The trademark was filed in 1996 (with a claim of first use in commerce for 1992) but the record doesn’t show much success

2001-02-22 – Abandonment – Failure To Respond Or Late Response

2000-06-23 – Final refusal mailed

2000-05-18 – Assigned To Examiner

1999-03-12 – Letter of suspension mailed

1999-03-12 – Assigned To Examiner

1997-06-17 – Letter of suspension mailed

1996-11-07 – Non-final action mailed

1996-10-23 – Assigned To Examiner

But even back in those days, cyberlaw-l was used as the name of a mailing list (different to Steve Hedley’s cyberlaw list)

CYBERIA-L@listserv.cc.wm.edu (the law and policy of computer networks; formerly CYBERLAW/CYBERLAW-L) (send the following message to the listserv@listserv.cc.wm.edu (or listserver@eagle.birds.wm.edu): subscribe cyberia-l Your Name)

And the EFF (alive at that stage so it’s appropriate that they’re involved now) had cyberlaw as a subject heading in their Compuserve form in 1992 (here).

In February 1987 (nearly a whole twenty-one years ago), Cyber Digital Inc included the following in an earnings report (PR Newswire via Nexis):

Cyber Digital Inc., designs, develops, manufactures and markets, digital switching and networking systems known as CyberSwitch, CyberLAW and CyberHUB. CyberSwitch provides voice communications capabilitiess. CyberLAW is a local area and wide area network. CyberLAW enables users to connect together personal computers, terminals, wordprocesssors, printers, and many different makes of computers and office systems. CyberLAW permits users to send and receive data, text, as well as graphics information over standard existing telephone lines. CyberHUB combines the capabilities of CyberSwitch and CyberLAW into a single multi-purpose integrated system offering simultaneous transmission of data and voice.

Hmmm.

Oh, and finally, and you’ll all love this. Menhart’s specimens submitted in support of his (as yet unsuccessful) application consist entirely of screenshots of his own website. Have a look at the gory details here. Is that really it?

5 comments

  1. Maman Poulet says:

    The long lonely road of the PhD student is finally getting to you Daithi!!! Either than or you have been at the gin!!!

  2. Daithí says:

    The former. Although the latter might not be a bad idea either.

  3. Steve Hedley says:

    Thanks for the plug ….

  4. [...] and I think that it is destined to become a classic. This is unsurprising. Susan Crawford is one of cyberlaw’s most incisive commentators; she blogs here; and is a member of the board of directors of [...]

  5. Just thought that I would add that I coined the term and first used it. It is and always has been trademarked. I also own the domain name.

    There is an interesting story to be told about lawyers who try to hijack trademarks:-)

Leave a Reply