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Part 1:
666 prank offends

Part 2:
666 Complains

Part 3:
Doc responds

Part 4:
Netsters respond

Part 5:
666 CEO responds

Part 6:
666 booty

Part 7:
666 gallery


Legal Schmegal!
Doc Responds to Anti-Deuce Legal Cabal

by Deuce of Clubs

(Originally published in 1998)


(The following is the response I sent to what I took to be 666 Cough Syrup's legal team:)

Mr. K.:

[Name deleted by Doc]

Rather than draft something from scratch, I'll respond to your letter part by part, in accepted Net form. . . .

While the 666 brand name does present some marketing challenges,

That you admit this makes me almost certain that you will understand exactly what I'm about to say.

The product name was very innocent in its origin.

I don't doubt that—but neither does anyone who reads my piece, which they all immediately recognize as a work of humor (as I'm sure you do, too).

It was not until about 15 years ago when the movie "The Omen" was released, that the numbers by themselves came to have an evil context.

That is not the case at all, Mr. K. Do you believe David Seltzer (the writer of The Omen, which was in fact released in 1976), pulled the number 666 out of the air? Surely you must know that since its inclusion in the Apocalypse of John the Revelator (the last book in the Bible), the number 666 has had an almost 2,000-year history of connoting evil, in every land in which the Bible has had any kind of distribution.

However, it was always Monticello's belief that the mark of the beast "666", was not evil unless it was written on human skin. According to the bible, if this number was put on your skin it would show you had given up your Christianity and been marked for identification.

I am nonplussed by this. You write as if you believe that people do not recognize humor when they see it. Surely you don't think your customers are as stupid as I pretend to be in the article, do you? Do you really believe that people who see my web site will think they'll be somehow marked by evil if they partake of your product(s)?

The management team feels that articles like yours undermine their efforts,

I am surprised you do not credit your customers with more intelligence. I wonder whether you haven't heard the old advertising / PR saying, "all publicity is good publicity, as long as they spell your name correctly"—or words to that effect. (Even though one can't technically "spell" 666, you understand what I mean.)

and as so are requesting that you remove the page (and links) from your site in addition to any other know on-line versions of the article. In addition to undermining the product-line, the article also offended the team, they have a lot of pride in the products, the company and the long family history they represent.

Certainly no offense was intended—I just think it's funny that anybody would market products using a brand name that for two millenia of Western religious history has signified the ultimate evil. And to judge by my mail, people who read the cough syrup piece have the same reaction: they think it's funny. The only way for you to avoid that reaction would be to change the name of the product. Did you know that here in my state, highway 666 had to change its name and be recommissioned under another number because of adverse public reaction? (As an aside, six years ago I produced a calendar that included a humorous photograph of a Highway 666 sign. It may interest you to know that I received no complaints from the Highway Department.) At all events, my interest in your cough syrup was purely humorous. I would hope that you and those you represent will learn to take it—and this e-mail—in that spirit.

If you would like, I could arrange to have a member of the management team contact you to discuss this further.

Please feel free to forward my e-mail address to any management personnel who wants it.

Please let me now if you have any questions, and advise me of what action you'll be taking.

I hate to have to tell you this, but I believe I am fully within my rights to leave the story on my website. I hate to have to tell you this because you, as a lawyer, should be fully aware of the Constitutional guarantee of free speech, and the Supreme Court ruling that humor and parody are included within the legal definition of free speech. (To refresh your memory, you can rent the film The People vs. Larry Flynt, a film I wouldn't ordinarily recommend, because it stinks. Not that I'd ever try to *censor* it, or anything. . . .)

I would, however, be happy to add a disclaimer to the article, stating the non-participation—or even disapproval—of The Monticello Companies, Inc. (If you like, I'll remove the graphics that depict your product. But then I'd have to come up with other graphics, and, given the subject matter, I really don't think you'd want that.) I would even be willing to include your contact information (web URL, e-mail, snail mail). In fact, I think if you approached your brand name situation by showing good sense and good humor (or should that be Good Humor[TM]?), you could even turn it to your benefit. Remember the Smucker's jelly ads? "With a name this bad, it has to be good!"

Your product is called "666," for God's sake—think of the possibilities!

Deuce of Clubs

© Deuce of Clubs


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