Possibly the best response to a cease-and-desist letter ever

West Orange, a township in central Essex County, New Jersey, is the centre of a lawyer spat gone viral. It started with a website that provides basic information about the town. The domain owner, however, was told he ran afoul of the township's official domain name. This led to a snarky reply.

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  1. Jake Freivald, a resident of West Orange, New Jersey, who once ran for town council and lost, built the site.
    Not long after the site went live, he received a demand letter from township attorney Richard D. Trenk.
    It tells him, in dense legal jargon, basically to stop using "West Orange" on your website, or you'll be sorry.
    The letter states in part: "The Township interprets this action as an effort by you to confuse and conflate the Township's official domain name and Web site with the Info Domain that you maintain....The Info Domain falsely creates the impression that the Township is associated or affiliated with the Info Domain....The Township demands that you cease and desist from use, ownership and maintenance of the Info Domain."

  2. Here is the "offending" site.
  3. Stephen B. Kaplitt is a lawyer with a droll sense of humour, as you can see in his response . Here's how he replied on behalf of Freivald.
    "Obviously, it was sent in jest, and the world can certainly use more legal satire. Bravo, Mr. Trenk!"
    For added colour, he uses the following phrases: "ham-fisted" and "big meanie."
    The conclusion drips with sarcasm: Kaplitt asks for copies of similar letters he has sent to other websites that also have West Orange in their domain name.



  4. Here is how "Above The Law" writer Staci Zaretsky reported on Kaplitt's response. She quotes her favourite line:
    "So that I may properly counsel my client, please also explain what in Sam Hill’s name you meant by ‘anything else confusingly similar thereto.’” She concludes: "What an epic letter. Bravo, Mr. Kaplitt!
  5. At the council meeting on June 26, West Orange residents stepped up to denounce Trenk's warning shot. One resident said it was time "for Richard Trenk to hit the road." Other townspeople used phrases like "national embarrassment."
  6. The Star-Ledger Editorial Board names Trenk "Knucklehead of the week."
  7. The two letters went viral, but it was Kaplitt's response that gave him a cult following. 
  8. Here is a video of Jake Freivald's response to the threatening letter delivered at the township council meeting.
  9. Jake Freivald's response to C&D letter at West Orange Town Council meeting, 20130611
  10. Click on the download button to open up the text of Kaplitt's epic response. You can right click on it to increase the size of the type.
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