Consume!

The Times Higher Education correspondence

(Psst! If you are new to this issue, please read this first.)

The following is the guts of my correspondence with staff from Times Higher Education after they tried to claim ownership of the name ‘bloggerheads’, the name I created in 2001 (see screen capture below).

John Elmes and 'THE BLOGGERHEADS'

The correspondence clearly shows that their argument switches from a question of copyright to one of trade mark, and that they begin to seriously stonewall from the moment I called the latter bluff and registered the name as a trade mark. These key points have been highlighted (by me) in bold.

The overall exchange has been edited for brevity, and one individual email has been subject to a minor edit to remove details that should remain private for personal security reasons. As usual, any such edits (and/or corrections of minor typos etc.) are marked [like so]. The exchange up until the point they accuse me of bad manners is complete and unedited so you might make a judgement about my manners for yourself.

I’d like to think I showed considerable restraint when they offered to re-label it ‘THE Bloggerheads’. I made the mistake of assuming good faith, and I was confident the issue would make itself apparent almost immediately. I was wrong, obviously. John Elmes made a particular point of switching his use of the name to ‘The Bloggerheads’ at a key point in this dispute.

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From: Tim Ireland
To: john.elmes@tsleducation.com
Date: Fri, May 13, 2011 at 11:38 AM
Subject: ‘bloggerheads’

Please consider a [using] new name. This one’s taken.

Cheers

Tim

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From: John.Elmes@tsleducation.com
To: Tim Ireland
Date: Fri, May 13, 2011 at 3:08 PM
Subject: ‘bloggerheads’

Dear Tim,

Thanks for your email, I appreciate your concern.

I just wanted to know if you had any copyright to the name. I only ask because my column is a small addition to a specialist higher education magazine, and the subject areas tend to differ drastically from yours.

I was having a look around the net and found this:

http://www.abeano.com/bloggerheads-new-for-2011-transparent-dummy-mag-tropical-waste/

It seems as though we aren’t the only ones to have utilised the expression ‘Bloggerheads’.

Kind regards,

John

John Elmes
Editorial Assistant
Times Higher Education
26 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4HQ
Tel: +44 (0)203 194 3315
www.timeshighereducation.co.uk

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From: Tim Ireland
To: John.Elmes@tsleducation.com
Date: Fri, May 13, 2011 at 3:27 PM
Subject: ‘bloggerheads’

I raise the issue as a matter of manners. I am aware that others have shown poor manners, thanks.

Will you consider using your own, unique name?

T

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From: John.Elmes@tsleducation.com
To: Tim Ireland
Date: Fri, May 13, 2011 at 4:55 PM
Subject: ‘bloggerheads’

Dear Tim,

I will raise it with my editors, but their view (they are the ones that came up with the name) was your site is distinctive enough to my column to remove any conflict. It is certainly different in terms of aesthetics, font and motivation, so we believe it won’t be an issue

Best,

John

John Elmes
Editorial Assistant
Times Higher Education
26 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4HQ
Tel: +44 (0)203 194 3315
www.timeshighereducation.co.uk

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From: Tim Ireland
To: John.Elmes@tsleducation.com
Sent: 13 May 2011 15:27
Subject: Re: ‘bloggerheads’

Please advise your editors that if you intend to promote yourself through Twitter, any hashtag you use will be the same as my username. We will most definitely intersect in a way that is an issue for me, and I will ask you again if you (or your editors) will seriously consider using a unique name of your/their own invention instead of hijacking the one I have been using since 2001.

T

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From: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
To: Tim Ireland
Date: Tue, May 17, 2011 at 3:44 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Dear Tim,

Thanks for your emails to John Elmes.

We were not aware of your blog and I assure you that there is no attempt to hi-jack.

Times Higher Education (THE) is a specialist higher education magazine, and our “bloggerheads” is dedicated entirely to scholarly/higher education policy debates on line, covering blogs and social media. It is quite clearly distinct from your blog, with a clearly separate audience.

It is clearly labeled with the strap: “A weekly round up of the best on the scholarly web”.

We have no intention to promote this column on Twitter using the “bloggerheads” hashtag.

As a courtesy to you, we have also added the THE logo to the name, which is now: “THE BloggerHeads”

Kind regards,

Phil Baty

Deputy Editor, Times Higher Education
Editor, Times Higher Education World University Rankings
26 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4HQ
Tel: 0203 194 3298

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/THEWorldUniRank
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimesHigherEd

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From: Tim Ireland
To: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Date: Tue, May 17, 2011 at 4:07 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Thank you for that at least. I would prefer there is no room for confusion, and I reserve the right to protect the name ‘bloggerheads’ should it become an issue. I really would prefer that you consider changing the name to a unique name of your own invention, though, and think it would be wisest in the long run.

Tim

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From: Tim Ireland
To: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Tue, May 31, 2011 at 7:26 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Phil, despite your assurances, the predictable has happened and users in Twitter are referring to you as ‘bloggerheads’ and not ‘THEbloggerheads’ as promised. I also note that you continue to bill yourself as ‘bloggerheads’ on your site, and this is turning up in the top ten for searches for my website, crowding out other web presence[s] in my name:

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=416093

I once again request that you create your own unique name instead of using the name I have been using for over 10 years.

(Please don’t embarrass yourself by citing others’ use of the name; this use emerged in the middle of a campaign of harassment, and I fully intend to take the issue up with this other web user, as soon as I am able.)

Bloggerheads is a unique name of my own invention. You have no business using it. I ask you again to stop using it.

Instead, try inventing your own name. Like I did.

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From: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
To: Tim Ireland
Cc: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 9:12 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Dear Mr Ireland

Please forward me your trademarking documentation and I’m sure we will be happy to comply.

Kind regards

Ann

Ann Mroz
Editor
Times Higher Education
26 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4HQ
Tel: 0203 194 3326

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/

Follow THE on Twitter: http://twitter.com/timeshighered
Follow Ann Mroz on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AnnMroz

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From: Tim Ireland
To: “Mroz, Ann”
Cc: “Baty, Phil”
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 9:31 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Why not say what you mean? You are happy to trade off a name that I invented if I cannot defend myself with costly legal muscle, and you care nothing for the inconvenience it will cause or the lack of respect it shows.

I can easily prove that I created the name and have been using it on the web for 10 years. That has until recently been good enough for others and it should be good enough for you… unless of course, you are the type of organisation that likes to stamp on the little guy.

Even the New York Times had the good sense to modify their use of the name to ‘bloggINGheads’. They understand that marketing yourself on the web requires some sensitivity to others inhabiting the relevant community.

I will ask you one more time to show me a modicum of respect and engage your mind(s) just long enough to come up with a unique name of your own invention.

Please, show me the respect I am due. You would not like it if someone seized control of your name.

Tim Ireland

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From: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
To: Tim Ireland
Cc: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 9:33 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Dear Mr Ireland

No, I would not like it if someone seized control of our name which is why I took the trouble to protect it by legal means.

I always show respect to people who are polite.

Kind regards

Ann

Ann Mroz
Editor
Times Higher Education
26 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4HQ
Tel: 0203 194 3326

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/

Follow THE on Twitter: http://twitter.com/timeshighered
Follow Ann Mroz on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AnnMroz

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From: Tim Ireland
To: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Cc: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 9:37 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Please do not pretend that everyone is in a position to defend themselves in this way, and please do not insult me further by calling my manners into question after the way you have treated me.

Do you intend to continue using the unique name that I created, despite my very clear objections?

T

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From: Tim Ireland
To: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Cc: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 9:52 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Allow me to explain the situation to you:

I will repeat that I have been subjected to an extended campaign of harassment, targeting myself and my family, causing great distress and considerable financial difficulty. I have never had cause to invest in a trade mark before, as for many years previous to this, simple respect within the web community was enough. I am certainly not in a strong position to rush out and do it now.

You risk compelling me to undertake this expense, and I do not think I am giving anything away by revealing that you may be able to swoop in an register it in your own name, despite your knowledge of my moral claim to it.

Neither move casts you in a good light, and I fully intend to make this dispute public if you refuse to be reasonable. I would remind you that you are seeking a brand to promote yourself in the blogging community, not distance yourself from it by charging in with a steamroller.

I will ask again: Do you intend to continue using the unique name that I created, despite my very clear objections?

T

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From: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
To: Tim Ireland
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 10:19 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Tim,

We adopted the name “Bloggerheads” for a small column on page 24 of our magazine, without any awareness of your blog.

We note that the name is not protected by you, and is indeed used by others on the Internet.

We note that the content of the THE column is entirely unrelated to your blog – we look exclusively at social media on higher education issues, a very narrow field.

Our distinct content is clearly marked in a sub-heading to the column: “A weekly round-up of the best on the scholarly web”.

When you alerted us to your blog, as a courtesy, we immediately agreed to re-design the column masthead and change the name of the column to “THE Bloggerheads”, incorporating our protected brand “THE” (Times Higher Education”), to make the clear differences even more explicit.

The website now displays the column as “THE Bloggerheads”: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=416254&c=1

We have also agreed, again purely as a courtesy, that we will only promote the column as “THE Bloggerheads” on Twitter and other social media.

We have been courteous and considerate throughout, and have made these clear concessions as a matter of good will, without any obligation on our part at all.

We feel these concessions are quite sufficient and entirely reasonable.

I trust that in the event that you decide to make this “dispute” public, you will reproduce this response in full.

Thank you for your correspondence,

Phil Baty

Deputy Editor, Times Higher Education
Editor, Times Higher Education World University Rankings
26 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4HQ
Tel: 0203 194 3298

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/THEWorldUniRank
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimesHigherEd

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And, as you will note, that is exactly what I have done. I have reproduced their response in full. In fact the full exchange above is entirely unedited, and I am really pissed off about being compelled to have to take it to this step because it necessitates a public acknowledgement of specific difficulty my stalker has caused me. Normally, this is something to be avoided with people engaging in this type of harassment, as it tends to encourage them.

Unfortunately, to protect my sole source of income, a site I have invested 10 years of my life in, the point must be made publicly that both Ann Mroz and Phil Baty were made aware of the issues surrounding an immediate investment in a trade mark registration.

Back to the correspondence:

-

From: Tim Ireland
To: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 10:41 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

How am I back talking to you now, Phil? Is it because you were the person who claimed to have invented the name, thereby causing this dispute?

I have already explained that I was in no position to protect myself from the small number of two-bit operations who also sought to capitalise on my name. I have been in contact with these other parties since you sought to capitalise on my name yourself and use their hijacking as an excuse. Please don’t embarrass yourself further by using these people as cover (or by excusing your ‘mere’ use of it in the back pages of your magazine). You already admit that you chose to use the name to promote your web initiative without first determining if someone else in the web community was using the name (a simple search in Google would have alerted you to my blog and the various other web presences in my name using this same name) so you cannot now defend its continued use by pretending that you were always aware of this.

I am bloggerheads. It is my creation, I use the name to blog about blogging, and I have done so for 10 years.

Specialised arena or not, you seek to blog about blogging, and despite your assurances/concessions, people are already using my name to refer to your web round-up.

Oh, and we are most certainly in dispute, despite what your scare quotes might imply, and I would welcome the opportunity to air this matter in full, as well as your earlier correspondence and the arrogance it reveals:

I trust that in the event that you decide to make this “dispute” public, you will reproduce this response in full.

Despite your tangential defence about what may appear in page 24 of your magazine, you are using my name, you are using it on the web as well as in print, you did not even have enough regard for the web community to check if someone was using the name ‘bloggerheads’ before committing to it, and you have been stubborn, evasive and unreasonable since I called you on it.

I have repeatedly stated that I would much prefer it if you created your own name. This challenge appears to be beyond you, or perhaps you are the type of person who refuses to back down even when they know they have made a mistake.

I will ask you again:

Do you intend to continue using the unique name that I created, despite my very clear objections?

T

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From: Tim Ireland
To: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 10:56 AM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

I might also add this [snipped for security reasons]

In short, you compel me to commit to considerable expense and inconvenience at a time of great difficulty.

I would really rather that you were reasonable about the matter. Why not use a name of your own invention? Where is the problem here? Have you foolishly invested money in use of the name without doing so much as a Google search for any other instances of it? Is that why you compel me to commit to considerable expense and inconvenience? Or are you merely being stubborn because of the arrogance this suggests?

T

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It was at this stage I considered the only way to end the matter without wasting days/weeks of my time was to meet the trade mark challenge. We had a lonnnng discussion about it in this house. We couldn’t really afford the expense, but Bloggerheads was a vital source of income. How could we not protect this asset from someone who was so obviously hostile in their seizure of it?

After the trade mark registration process was completed and relevant documentation secured, I called their bluff:

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From: Tim Ireland
To: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 12:28 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Congratulations. You have compelled me to undergo the expense or registering my unique name as a trademark at a time when we can ill-afford it.

Now, are you going to be so difficult that you continue to use the name in the ~6 months it will take to process the application, or are you going to finally decide to play-act at being reasonable now you’ve put us through this major inconvenience?

Tim

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From: Tim Ireland
To: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 1:09 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Well? I’ve called your bluff. What’s your response?

T

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From: Tim Ireland
To: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 1:27 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

To be clear; I expect a response this afternoon.

Putting aside the patronising way you dismiss my moral claim to this name, you gave me the impression that if the name was protected as a trade mark you would comply with my wishes. I have today begun the registration process, and now you refuse to budge from your existing position, even though you appear to have NO CLUE about the circumstances in which the name came to be used in your magazine and on your website. You can’t even name the sub-editor you imply presented the name as an original piece of work.

Did you mean what you said about trade mark, or was it merely a bluff? I have cause to be upset with you either way, but I will be especially upset if it is the latter, after I explained my circumstances to you.

Do you intend to continue using the unique name that I created, despite my very clear objections?

Tim

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From: Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
To: Tim Ireland
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 2:18 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Dear Tim,

Can you please direct all further correspondence (and phone calls) on this matter to our Information Assurance Officer, Arshid Bashir.

He is on arshid.bashir@tsleducation.com
Or 020 3194 3384

Thank you.

Phil Baty

Deputy Editor, Times Higher Education
Editor, Times Higher Education World University Rankings
26 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4HQ
Tel: 0203 194 3298

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/THEWorldUniRank
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimesHigherEd

-

After offering a summary of the issue that was complete bollocks, Arshid Bashir refused to engage on the matter of trade mark (and tort, as raised in the email that followed his summary):

-
Bashir, Arshid Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 4:36 PM
To: Tim Ireland

Dear Mr Ireland,

If I can first of all very briefly introduce myself: I am responsible for independently assuring to the TSL board that all functions and activities comply with all legal and regularity requirements and obligations.

Looking at your concerns expressed over the exchange of emails, can I suggest that we limit ourselves to the core issue and not become embroiled or distracted by side-issues or assumptions and conjecture.

If I can summarise your position:

1. It is your contention that you have prior rights on the title ‘Bloggerheads’ which you have used on your website for a number of years, but which had not been registered as a trademark.

2. And, although an accommodation was mutually and informally agreed a few weeks back by prefixing our use of the word ‘Bloggerheads’ with the word ‘THE’, you have subsequently became dissatisfied based on search engines results ranking our content too highly, relative to yours.

3. You are also unhappy we may use ‘Bloggerheads’ as a Twitter hashtag as this is your Twitter user name. We have clarified this is not our intent.

Whilst I can appreciate your views on ‘ownership’ of this word and subsequent discontent that your web presence may have been impacted; it is clear that TSL is not, and has not been in breach of any trademarks or any other proprietary rights.

I am sorry that our position may not be one that you would like, however TSL has neither sought nor would wish to seek to undermine the rights of others. In my opinion I also think it is highly unlikely that consumers or visitors to our respective content would confuse either web site with the other and therefore unlikely to be detrimental to you or us.

Can I also advise you that all future communication from within TSL will be by myself.

Yours sincerely

Arshid Bashir

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From: Tim Ireland
To: Arshid.Bashir@tsleducation.com
Cc: Ann.Mroz@tsleducation.com, Phil.Baty@tsleducation.com
Date: Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 4:50 PM
Subject: FW: ‘bloggerheads’

Your summary of my position is rife with assumption and conjecture, but happily I do not have to explain myself any further to protect my rights.

I have now approached an experienced intellectual property lawyer and I have been informed that it appears that the THE is committing the tort of “passing off” in respect of “Bloggerheads” and that it appears you would not have a sensible defence to a claim. I have a substantial and prior trading reputation in respect of my expertise of blogging and web-related matters that pre-dates your entire website by many years.

Accordingly, please remove the references to “Bloggerheads” from your site immediately.

Tim Ireland
www.bloggerheads.com

PS – Both the Editor and Deputy Editor have been CCed, because it was they who (a) gave me the false impression that I needed a registered trade mark to protect my rights, and (b) gave me the false impression that they would cooperate were such a trade mark registered. With all due respect, this matter has been needlessly complicated by these organ grinders playing lawyer, and I have every right to inform them of their error and expect an apology to go with their immediate cooperation.

-

Arshid Bashir answered this challenge… by refusing to address it in any way. In a phone call (that I recorded) I asked Bashir if he had a response to the tort issue. He replied; “we do not have to answer every email you send us”. I pressed him further, and he responded; “I do not think it would be productive for us to debate the matter”. Then he hung up on me.

Arshid Bashir now refuses to answer my emails or take my calls. Any attempt to reach Ann Mroz, Phil Baty or John Elmes results in my being referred to Arshid Bashir (who now refuses to answer my emails or take my calls).

I think it’s safe to interpret not only the copyright and trade mark challenges as a bluff, but the ‘concessions’ also. Here I will remind you that the ‘concession’ of referring to themselves as ‘THE Bloggerheads’ (i.e. T.H.E. Bloggerheads) quickly changed to their use of the name as ‘The Bloggerheads’ (i.e. the one, only and original accept-no-substitutes bloggerheads) at a peak moment in this dispute.

As for some of what they claim in mitigation, most of it is laughable and contradictory in places (e.g. senior editors blamed an un-named junior editor for the decision to use the name, the junior editor I spoke to blamed senior editors), plus it clearly paints a picture where the matter is mainly insignificant from their point of view. If this were the case, then it would be an insignificant matter for them to stop using my name.

However, they refuse to stop using my name, and I think this correspondence includes several instances revealing bad faith on their part. Key to this was the stark bluff from Ann Mroz that she would respect my rights if I went through with the trade mark paperwork.

After compelling me to reinforce my ownership with trade mark, they now appear to be waiting for me to engage lawyers, at further expense they know I will have difficulty meeting.

(Instead of using a rude word here, I will let you choose your own, but I ask that you not repeat it under comments. Let’s not do these people any favours.)

-

UPDATE (2pm) – Times Higher Education have just emailed to say that they “can confirm we have decided to change the name of our column in THE”. Unfortunately, they offer very little detail beyond this apart from some apparent conditions (!) so I have responded to the relevant requests, and will let you know of any outcome in due course.

-

UPDATE (damn near 5pm) – Times Higher Education have ignored my response to their conditions/requests, and have instead referred me to their lawyer, who has not yet been in touch. It looks like they mean to leave me hanging all weekend. Charming.

-

UPDATE (11:45pm) – Their lawyer might not have managed to make contact today, but Times Higher Education have late this afternoon removed from sight every page on their site that used the title ‘bloggerheads’. So we’re on our way to a resolution at last.

By the way, you may note in this correspondence that THE claimed to have been unaware of Bloggerheads before May 13 (i.e. when I first emailed them, taking issue with their use of my name). About an hour ago, I looked into my site tracking data and detected a visit from before May 13:

Bloggerheads – THE tank on my lawn (and how/when it got there)

I’m a guy who likes to be positive right down to my blood cells, so I am hoping this is not the indication of bad faith it appears to be.

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Ann Mroz: patronising, unpleasant and dishonest

[MINI-UPDATE (03 Jun) – THE object to my use of the word ‘dishonest’ in this headline. I stand by my use of the word, but as a courtesy, I have placed this prominent and immediate link to the relevant correspondence so readers might better judge for themselves.]

Regulars of Bloggerheads will be aware that my family and I been through some difficult times recently. During the rolling crisis, several two-bit operations have sought to hijack the ‘bloggerheads’ name that I created, but my priority has been those attempting to associate this unique name (and mine) with paedophilia, stalking and what have you.

Recently, I complained to staff at the magazine Times Higher Education about their use of ‘bloggerheads’ – a unique name that I created to title my blog about blogs – to title a web round-up feature (i.e. their blog about blogs). I repeatedly made it clear that I wanted them to come up with their own name, especially when they clearly planned to use it to blog about other weblogs. They pretended there was no room for confusion, offered to put ‘the’ in front of it as a “concession” and left it at that. Almost immediately references to their magazine started turning up in Twitter and Google in searches for my unique name.

I complained again. They gave me the very clear impression that, were the name protected as a trade mark, they would immediately comply with my wishes.

Several times I pointed out to them that I had a significant and demonstrable moral claim to the name dating back many years, but they dismissed this notion in the most patronising way possible. I also pointed out that if they seek to market themselves on the via web/blogs, then there are far better ways of going about it than hijacking an existing name, which is one good reason why the expense of a trade mark has never been necessary before now in the decade I have been using the name ‘bloggerheads’.

I also pointed out that I was busy battling an ongoing campaign of harassment, and their position compelled me to spend money we could ill-afford at the moment, but they stood firm on their position (along with the ridiculous implication that they had searched the trade mark database but not Google when they decided on using this name as their own).

Ultimately, Times Higher Education Editor Ann Mroz left me with no choice but to trade mark the name so I might call their bluff and take further steps to protect it from recent misuse and/or appropriation by their organisation and others.

But now I have begun the trade mark registration process, they have changed their position, and plan to continue using the name as they have before!

That’s a class act, all the way. After compelling me to trade mark the name, now they’re going to compel me to await the completion of the registration process (and then, presumably, take them to court) before they will be in any way reasonable about this.

Their Deputy Editor can’t even name the sub-editor they claim ‘invented’ the word, but Times Higher Education staff are unwilling to admit that they made a mistake by using this unique name without first researching it. They even have the audacity to minimise the significance of its use from their point of view (e.g. it’s ‘only’ on page 24 of their magazine), but surely if it’s no big deal to them and a bloody big deal to me, then that’s even more reason for them to back off and do what they should have done in the first place; come up with a unique name of their own invention.

-

[Other, smaller, organisations who have recently sought to appropriate this name have also been contacted about this matter today. I am hoping that they will be more reasonable. I certainly can’t see how they can top this response from Times Higher Education. I realise THE are in the education sector, but surely they’ve grown out of playground games by now.]

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UPDATE – Check the comments for a contribution by ‘Malcolm Kent’. It was submitted using false details, and is an obvious sock-puppet.

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10 Yetis, BabyChild, and the many deceits of Charlotte Horsfall

I’d like to begin by insisting that you read Unity’s long post about what 10 Yetis have been unleashing on the public for a long time now; the scale of their pathetic avarice should not be underestimated:

Ministry of Truth – Sex Education, Churnalism and 10 Yetis – A Cornucopia of Crap

10 Yetis came to my attention in the middle of Nadine Dorries’ widely-mocked abstinence ‘education’ campaign when they released the results of an absurdly unprofessional and leading survey about parents’ attitudes to sex education. 10 Yetis refuse to say what prompted them to conduct and release this poll, but (a) I don’t think I am wrong to suspect that they saw a little media storm brewing and sought to exploit it, and (b) their refusal to answer this question and others honestly – or at all – is the reason for this post, so they may want to re-think their current ‘stonewall’ strategy.

(In fact, the good people at 10 Yetis should also be advised that if they are going to claim expertise in search engine optimisation, they will want to at least pretend to be dimly aware of the capacity your average blogger has for repeating questions in public when these questions are ignored and/or dealt with dishonestly in private.)

To be fair to Charlotte Horsfall (“Consumer PR Exec @10Yetis PR Agency”), not all of the following deceits are hers and hers alone. Some belong in no small part to her boss Andy Barr and anyone else who had a hand in conceiving/executing their bottom-feeding business model, but there’ll be time enough to address these people later.

Deceit #1

Charlotte Horsfall was asked who commissioned this survey/poll. Her answer:

BabyChild commissioned the survey of British parents of children age between 5 – 11 years.

‘BabyChild’ is the name of a white label store owned by the same people who own and operate 10 Yetis. To pretend distance by presenting them as a client is entirely dishonest; the poll was. in truth, self-commissioned; a PR company sought to promote their own web store through a survey.

Deceit #2

This one may not be entirely on Charlotte (it depends on who wrote/approved the press release) but the information was released in a way that risks giving a false impression that the survey was conducted by a company that had a relationship with a relevant customer base and/or some associated experience/expertise. White label stores do not work in this way, and in any case there is no evidence that the survey was conducted among customers of that store (see #3):

A survey has been conducted by a leading independent baby product review website in the UK to ask parents how they feel about their children learning about the subject in a school environment. www.babychild.org.uk polled 1,732 parents in the UK, with children aged between 5 and 11 years old. – source)

(Psst! 10 Yetis boss Andy Barr cannot pretend that this happened without his knowledge/approval, as he publicly gloated about the success of the PR stunt in which he is quoted as the co-founder of BabyChild.)

Deceit #3

Given what the press release claimed/implied, Charlotte Horsfall was asked; “Was the site conducted on your site, or among your customers in some other way?”

Instead of saying ‘no’ (which would have been an honest answer), Charlotte said this:

“BabyChild conducted the study by using an opt-in database that has access to over one million consumers all responses being anonymous.”

Charlotte has refused to elaborate any further on this, but if we’re to go by other amateur surveys they’ve conducted, this is a reference to the third party website SurveyMonkey, and somewhat akin to someone claiming they are part of the Murdoch media empire because they have a MySpace page.

So, not only are 10 Yetis dishonest, but they are the type of low-rent company who do things on the cheap while pretending theirs is a far grander and more professional affair than it really is.

Deceit #4

Charlotte Horsfall was asked if her company was a member of the MRS (Market Research Society). Her answer:

BabyChild are not members of the MRS.

The more correct answer is, of course, that 10 Yetis is not a member of the MRS (Market Research Society). This alone should make anyone wary of portraying them (and/or otherwise relying on them) as if they were a serious ‘pollster’; they are not.

In fact, 10 Yetis appear to conduct polls purely for the purposes of generating publicity (and this mainly for what they describe as “internal clients” when they stray anywhere near the truth).

Deceit #5

I’m going to close by including the full text of their entirely unscientific poll (below). The leading nature of the questions should be obvious (and this has been addressed by Unity in any case), but I would also like to draw the last three questions and their responses to your attention.

If one is to give this poll any credit, using these last 3 questions, one can use it to argue strongly for sex education in schools; the respondents’ children appear to seek information about sex at a younger age than it is taught in schools, and the majority of parents are ill-equipped to deal with it themselves.

10 Yetis could just as easily have come out against what Dorries proposed, because the ‘findings’ of this poll are a meaningless muddle of mendaciousness. Not that such an effort would be welcomed by anyone supporting an evidence-based position; this is an amateur effort that sought to jump on board a debate about our children’s sex education in the hope that this would generate some cheap publicity.

Well, here we are, 10 Yetis; here’s your publicity. Choke on it.

The 'BabyChild' survey conducted by 10 Yetis

[Psst! I know times is tough, but if you are working as an employee or 'intern' for these no-hopers, you could do better. You may even wish to seek out PR experience with a charity, or some other organisation that puts the public interest ahead of pathetic profit streams. You're likely to do far less damage that way, and you may sleep better most nights.]

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UPDATE – Some related posts:
Cath Elliott – The great 10 Yetis circle jerk
Richard Bartholomew – An Abominable Sex Education Survey

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Scaling

In the coming weeks and months, I am going to be writing quite a lot about a goal-oriented philosophy I have dubbed scaling. Several projects will be based on this same philosophy.

For reasons that should become clear to you almost immediately, I wish to begin with the modest goal of explaining this philosophy and the dual meaning of the word ‘scaling’ when it’s used to describe it.

‘Scaling’ is a term I first applied to a specific method in search engine optimisation where you gain immediate if modest returns via search engines, and then gradually build on this over time in a way that brings ever-present and increasing rewards with each incremental improvement:

Scaling Relevance

OK, so now you know enough about Page Titles and their importance/role to understand this key example; what follows is a Page Title that is descriptive, contains a call to action, and also contains a combination of keywords that might be of importance to a site selling chocolate. A brand new site with no reputation to speak of has no chance of being the top search result for ‘chocolate’ immediately, but the site owner might hope to immediately/quickly be a high search result for a more unique (but still potentially lucrative) query such as ‘buy chocolate online uk’. If they work on the link popularity of their site over time, the likelihood of them performing for more lucrative queries increases, (important bit #1) they are enjoying increasingly lucrative rewards on their journey to this goal, and (important bit #2) they do not have to pay some joker money to come in and fiddle about with their keywords on a monthly basis because all of the relevant keywords are contained within a single, unchanging Page Title.

NomNom (UK) – Buy chocolate online

Contains:
- chocolate
- buy chocolate
- buy chocolate online
- chocolate uk
- buy chocolate uk
- buy chocolate online uk

Coordinating Relevance

Of course, the example above only takes into account a single page and Page Title, as it is designed mainly to help you appreciate the point (i.e. it is not a strategy in itself). What you need to do is scale your relevance on a site-wide basis, and it is here I hope you will understand how it is possible to generate a commanding search result for your entire product/service range without attempting to list every product/service on your front page, and how it is possible to have every Page Title on your site working towards your main keyword strategy without having the same damn Page Title on every single page. (I still see this on some sites. It makes me want to cry.) At the top are three Page Titles, one for the front page and one for each of the main categories, and under that is the keyword query pattern that should help you appreciate how scaling works on any scale:

NomNom (UK) – Buy chocolate online
NomNom (UK) – Buy dark chocolate online
NomNom (UK) – Buy milk chocolate online

chocolate
chocolate uk
buy chocolate
buy chocolate online
buy chocolate online uk
dark chocolate || milk chocolate
dark chocolate uk || milk chocolate uk
buy dark chocolate || buy milk chocolate
buy dark chocolate uk || buy milk chocolate uk
buy dark chocolate online || buy milk chocolate online
buy dark chocolate online uk || buy milk chocolate online uk

(read more)

This method is unpopular among SEO providers who seek monthly cheques from their clients, as it rules out any earnings from constant keyword shuffling and focuses investment on long term goals instead of short term gain through various shortcuts/sidesteps such as AdWords. However, for you to learn about the philosophy of scaling, you need to appreciate this choice of paths from the client’s point of view; if the client wishes to generate an immediate high search result for ‘chocolate’ or bypass the need for an organic result and instead place ads adjacent to the highest results, then a hefty investment will be required to either generate a sufficient number of inbound links to the site and/or pay for advertising bills.

This kind of journey involves a threshold that most of us could not hope to meet immediately, as it requires an enormous monetary investment of one form or another before any results/rewards come in:

Now compare this to the philosophy of building your site with a scaled generic keyword strategy (as outlined above) and making modest, ongoing investments designed to improve your site’s reputation:

When used to describe this philosophy, ‘scaling’ does not just apply to the increasing size of the goals and rewards at each step of the way (i.e. the measurement of amounts and dimensions); it also describes the journey you take on the path to your ultimate goal (i.e. your means of ascent via these same steps).

One thing that has put people off political blogging in recent years is the entirely false sense of scale pushed by ‘leading’ bloggers who have not only been cheating by lying about their traffic statistics for years, but responding to criticism by sniffily rejecting the author(s) as insignificant according to this scale, and asserting their authority over them using these same (fabricated) traffic numbers. It is in this way that they set themselves up as gatekeepers of information in a field where they themselves insist that information should be allowed to flow freely. (One of them even had a widely-understood policy of withholding link-love from anyone who dared to be critical of him. I’m sure I do not need to name names for people to understand the way this might be used to force an agenda on a false premise/mandate.)

Party politics involves a similar deceit that convinces not just candidates but voters that the only viable path lies through assimilation with established parties.

To give other examples outside of politics, until recently, the threshold one had to cross before you could hope to make a living from the music or video production industry was enormous; you were going nowhere fast unless you had a deal with one of the monster-sized organisations, who had a vested interest in maintaining that same threshold and associated illusions, seeking to justify it with the same flawed ‘quality’ argument I describe in relation to political blogging. A similar false threshold persists in the world of print.

I hope to awaken you to the possibility that in the 21st century, with the advent of the web especially, you do not need to scale impossibly steep inclines or beg for favours from the wazzocks manning the cliff-tops.

The rewards of this awakening are potentially immense; think about all the people who sold out their values and/or surrendered a great deal of personal power just so they might hope to secure a seat, gain a record deal, have a script produced, write for a newspaper, have a book produced, or get a product made and/or on the market. See Dragon’s Den especially on this last point, and the impossibly large amounts of expenditure retailers/supermarkets require before they will even stock your goods; this path leads only to stagnation, and dross, and the joy of eating out of a trough.

Scaling is about your right to realise your own potential, and making it happen through realistic and manageable means.

The philosophy not only allows for success in line with your potential, it allows you to halt, change direction*, or even fail part-way while still enjoying rewards… and without crashing disastrously to the ground.

Most importantly, it destroys the illusion that stops some people from moving toward their goals at all until it is far too late.

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(*Sometimes a journey is required to help us learn more about our potential, and/or to offer us the insight that drives our goals. It is much easier to change direction gracefully when you are not falling off the side of a cliff.)

This one writes itself

Via @scotchtwit I discover there is a variety of potato (exhibitor grade) called the ‘Nadine’:

Potato ‘Nadine’ Exhibitor Grade (Solanum tuberosum)

Exceptionally smooth skin with shallow eyes. Cream flesh has firm, moist waxy texture and does not discolour on cooking. Double eelworm resistance and high common scab tolerance.

Even the picture is uncannily accurate:

Nadine screengrab

Can I get an ‘amen’?

Wrigley’s gum – the clean fresh taste of [insert your name here]

I was slumming it in the YouTubes recently when I happened across a 1986 ad for Wrigley’s chewing gum that seemed very familiar and yet entirely different. The following collection of clips should explain my confuzzlement:

Wrigley’s gum – the clean fresh taste of…

Yes, as you can see, Wrigley recycled the same “Taste of America” ad to produce some regional flavours for Australia and New Zealand. Some shots have been re-used, others replaced, but what’s also worth a look is the effort that went into re-shooting/replicating some shots to localise the image while keeping the ad’s ‘formula’ intact (e.g. the high-fiving pilots, the girl who misses her taxi, and the juggler with zinc cream on his nose); even the two ‘man releasing native bird’ shots match. The producers did let the side down by not forcing that little girl to fly two different flags, but still, it’s pretty impressive overall.

I’m sure most of you are aware that this happens (UK and Australian TV both feature many US-made commercials with badly-dubbed local voices) and you probably won’t even be upset with the duplicity of the concept, but I am genuinely pissed off that I was robbed of my opportunity to enjoy Great Hair Guy; the fella who’s deliriously happy at how good he looks.

Apart from the poor lady who misses her taxi, pretty much everyone else waving their arms about is celebrating an achievement, which makes Great Hair Guy even more hilarious to me;

“Hard deck my ass. We nailed that son of a bitch!” (high five)
“We got the Glickman contract!” (air punch)
“We totally won at baseball/basketball/etc.” (manly hugs)
“How’s my hair looking? My hair’s looking GREAT!” (fist pump)

Wrigley ad (1986) - Great Hair Guy

Here’s to you, Great Hair Guy. You rock.

(Apologies if this mockery is 20-odd years later than expected.)

Did Nokia let Jemma Lyon take the fall?

Telegraph – Nokia in plagiarism row after ‘short film award winner disqualified for cheating’Nokia, the mobile phone company, has been forced to disqualify the winner of a British film prize after an investigation found her entry was a direct copy of an earlier work. The technology giant had awarded its Critic’s Award prize in its MiniMo competition to Jemma Lyon for “Forrest Chump”… a lo-fi retelling of the 1994 blockbuster Hollywood film, starring Tom Hanks. It was shot in one take on a mobile phone. But after winning the award earlier this month, the Liverpool John Moores University student faced claims that she had plagiarised her entry from a film called “Forrest Gump in one minute, in one take”.

Hi gang. I’d like to begin, if I may, with a comment posted to the nokiaminimo.com blog on 19 June that Nokia published, but did not answer (source):

Nokia minimo comment #1

Further comments by Will Tribble (the creator of the original film) were also published, but left unanswered. Here’s one example (source):

Nokia minimo comment #2

When Nokia finally did answer in Twitter, they certainly didn’t give any indication that they intended to do anything about it (source #1, source #2):

Nokia minimo tweets

In fact, it wasn’t until after there was a sizeable public outcry that Nokia did anything at all, and for over 24 hours now they have been refusing to discuss the point already acknowledged by MOFILM; “this issue should have been dealt with as soon as it was flagged however it was not”

And I think I might know why.

Here is a further comment that Nokia have published on their blog, but not answered (source):

Nokia minimo comment #3

The circumstances ‘Tina’ describes do not strike me as odd or extraordinary for the following reasons:

- 1. With all due respect to the filmmakers involved, I do not think Nokia were getting the best out of the filmmaking talent that’s available in this country, and I invite you to browse the ‘leaderboard’ to judge this for yourself (if you have the patience).

- 2. Nokia themselves documented two instances in which they aided a filmmaker with props and extras.

- 3. Nokia also describe plans for multiple campus visits on their front page; “Watch out for MOFILM:Labs on your campus, our amazing mobile editing suites that could help turn you into the next Spike Jonze.”

Therefore, while it’s possible that this is an unjustified attempt to damage Nokia or favour an entrant in some way, it seems perfectly plausible to me that Nokia* would send a company/competition representative out on campus to help a production along, especially if the concept was stronger/superior to what they already had (and judging by the judge’s decision, it was). Also, Nokia have been evasive to the point of embarrassment about the matter of plagiarism, and I suspect they have something to hide besides incompetence.

So the question I would put to Nokia is this:

Is there any truth to what ‘Tina’ claims; that Jemma Lyon was encouraged if not directed by a representative of Nokia to copy an existing work and pass it off as her own?

If so, then serious questions have to be asked about the manipulation/exploitation of this young woman and the wider betrayal of trust.

Over to you, Nokia peeps. Any comment?

-

[*I recognise there may be confusion between Nokia reps/staff and people from MOFILM, but MOFILM have a lot more to lose in terms of artistic credibility, seemed genuinely surprised by the discovery of plagiarism, and were nowhere near as evasive as Nokia about it. Therefore, I am putting the question to Nokia in the first instance.]

[Psst! A message for Jemma Lyon: If there's any truth to what 'Tina' says and you have the raw footage, it may establish the truth of the matter, especially if the coaching described took place during the shoot. You may also wish to contact witnesses, ask them about their intentions, and have them independently write down what they recall if they wish to come forward. Remember; the charge of plagiarism is likely to dog you throughout your career if you plan to continue with filmmaking or any creative endeavour. I encourage you to stand up for your rights if you feel you have been treated unfairly, and I guarantee that if it's a case of Nokia putting you up to this and then letting you take the fall, then you will not have to fight alone.]

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UPDATE 24 June – A statement from Nokia appeared last night:

Nokia MiniMo**

Having continued to investigate the original minimo Critics Choice Award, it appears that one of our student team assisted in the making of the video, including offering their Nokia handset to shoot the short film and suggesting that the film was okay to submit to the competition. We are obviously very disappointed to discover that this has happened. While we believe that the original winner did not intentionally break the terms and conditions of the competition, the submission remains disqualified.

I hate to be fussy, but I think “suggesting that the film was okay to submit to the competition” could be clearer. Did one of the ‘student team’ (an employee of Nokia) originally suggest the idea to copy the film? I look forward to further investigation and some clarification.

[**Looks to me like someone had difficulty thinking of a good headline.]

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UPDATE (25 June) – I’ve spoken to the communications team at Nokia, and they have promised a further statement within a week. Their position is that they wish to be thorough and discuss this in detail with all parties involved before saying anything further, which seems reasonable. The ‘disconnect’ that caused myself and others concern (i.e. giving the impression that the issue was being ignored or played down from the 19th to the 22nd, leaving Jemma Lyons to be pilloried as the sole party responsible during this period) appears primarily to be the result of an agency being in charge of the campaign weblog, leaving Nokia once-removed from the action, delaying their awareness of specific comments, and greatly complicating if not ruling out any meaningful dialogue on the blog. Speaking from experience (while tutting at Nokia for not being directly involved as they are with their Twitter channel), this explanation for the disconnect seems reasonable to me, and I trust the issue of this communications shortfall and its consequences will be addressed in the upcoming statement.

Until then, I think the most constructive thing I can do is leave you with some reassurance:

The ‘Nokia rep’ involved was NOT a senior (or even full time) staff member, and while this individual may have actively participated in the plagiarism rather than discouraging it in any way, the original idea to use Will Tribble’s concept/script in full doesn’t appear to have been anything more than a mistake by a young student (amplified greatly by circumstance***); for me the primary concern was that people in a position of power appeared to be betraying their trust and ours, and after speaking to Nokia I’m a lot less concerned about that.

[*** There's one word that applies to how this whole project was run, and that is 'sloppy'. I trust that this too will be addressed in the upcoming statement.]

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UPDATE (01 July) – Nokia have since issued a further statement in response to a comment/statement submitted to their site by Jemma Lyon (a version of which was submitted to this site, but held over while I attempted to confirm her identity). A mirror of these two statements appears below:

To Whom It May Concern,
I would like to make a statement regarding the alleged plagiarism accusations from the Nokia Minimo movie competition.
I was approached by a Nokia representative who asked me to remake any video in under two minutes for his Nokia assignment. I was unaware that this was a competition at the time and did not receive a brief. The representative also promised to give me a mobile phone in exchange for assisting him with his project. I never received the phone. The Nokia representative was present during the filming of my video and after being asked several times if the film was ok to submit he insisted it was and persisted to show the actors the original video to direct them where to stand and what to do. At no point did the representative inform any of the people involved that the film was breaching the terms and conditions and I was led to believe that the entry was valid. Further to this, Nokia became aware that my entry was based on another video three days prior to sending me on the trip to Cannes, but they still sent me on the trip and refused to act until the public outcry. My name has been tarnished by this event. I have been branded a cheater amongst many other things too awful to write and I have yet to be informed of how Nokia aim to rectify this. I aspire to pursue a career in the creative media industry and this libel is a great hindrance to my progress to achieving the career I want. My efforts to expose the truth have been greatly subdued by Nokia and the rule of law seems not to apply to large powerful corporations in certain instances. In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that basing my video on Mr Tribble’s creative work was done in ignorance. I was not aware that I was breaking any rules and the Nokia representative never informed me that I was doing so. I previously had no interest in submitting an entry but I was misled into thinking that I was merely helping the Nokia representative, he has since personally apologised to me for the way I have been treated. Nokia has allowed my name to be dragged through the mud by shrouding the situation with half truths and even some out right lies in order to save their own reputation.

Comment by Jemma [Jemma Lyon] — June 25, 2010 @ 10:18 pm (source)

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As per our last public statement, we believe that there was no bad intent from the original winner when entering the MiniMo competition. However, in directly copying an existing piece of content and not declaring that the content was not their original work, they broke the terms of entering the competition. This resulted in the entry being disqualified by MoFilm.

We are in touch directly with the disqualified winner as a statement by them contains a number of allegations about Nokia that don’t represent the information that has been provided to us; this is due to the differing accounts given by the winner and the Nokia student team member.

We apologise for the misleading guidance that the winner received from the Nokia student team member when completing the disqualified MiniMo submission. However, it was ultimately the entrants decision to select the content and submit the video and in doing so, accepting the responsibilities of entry.

We feel that we acted in the best interest of the competition and its participants with the information that has been presented to us.

Communication with our student team member shows that he did offer the entrant a Nokia X6 and we will ensure that the phone is delivered as soon as possible.

Comment by Nokia Minimo — June 29, 2010 @ 5:58 pm (source)

Today, Will Tribble (creator of the original Gump-in-a-minute film) offers us a further update that brings us no closer to a conclusion (currently it is the word of Jemma Lyon against that of a still-unnamed casual employee of Nokia) but does share some detail that Nokia will probably want to respond to.

Will Tribble – Nokia MiniMo competition

So, overall Jemma is claiming that this Nokia guy is almost entirely responsible for making the film all she did was film and and stick it into the competition under his directions, and Nokia didn’t send her back from Cannes, they just told MoFilm they had.

1st July:

I’ve just had a phone chat with a guy from Nokia’s PR team (Mark who runs their Twitter), and this was his stance:

- This Nokia rep was a part-time employee from their street team, who specialise in doing Nokia-related things in universities, etc.

- He was present at the filming and lent his phone. He knew that the film was a lot like our one, but said she should enter it anyway. However he had nothing to do with the planning, directing or editing of it.

- Jemma was sent back on the earliest flight it was safe to send her on, on Thursday morning (she was meant to leave on either Friday or Saturday, he couldn’t remember off the top of his head).

So all in all, I’m not sure what happens next and I have no idea who to believe. I don’t know whether Jemma was left to be the fall girl by Nokia or whether there’s been a load of misunderstandings.

My position is very similar to Will’s at present, but I’ll reserve further comment for now.

Burger King: the ultimate whopper

There are two types of tray liners that dominate the market; one goes in fast food trays and the other lines kitty-litter boxes. That crunchy nugget alone should tell you all you need to know, but today we’re going to dig all the way to the bottom for a special treat.

Below is a scan of the latest tray liner for Burger King. Upon closer inspection, your mind may initially refuse to accept what you’re seeing, but it’s exactly what it looks like:

burger king: bite me!

Yes, the cow is angry because you are eating chicken. It is jealous. The cow wants you to eat it instead.

And unlike the pig that wants to be eaten, the cow’s not even bothering to be polite about it.

Again, I should warn you that your mind may betray you at this point as it stubbornly clings to reason… but the cow’s wish that you eat it – and its willingness to stalk you to the bottom of every food tray – is part of a weird, sexual relationship that you’re a willing partner to (according to Burger King).

To remove any doubt about their intentions, here’s the 30 second TVC they released as part of this same Tendercrisp campaign:

Now, don’t get me wrong here; I do eat cow now and again and I do enjoy it. I’ve even dabbled in a little animal husbandry to the extent of having my entire forearm inside a cow’s bottom at one stage, but at no stage did I utter the words “Oh, you love it!” or go on to imagine a cow gaining pleasure from any beef-related mastication at the dinner table.

Putting aside what any given cow may or may not be capable of feeling about any assertion that they gain sexual pleasure and form deep emotional attachments as a result of being minced, grilled and munched; eating the high amounts of sugar, fat and salt in a typical burger triggers a fleeting pleasure response in your brain, and Burger King are clearly trying to associate that with sexual pleasure in order to sell more chicken or beef burgers (a win/win situation from their POV).

I don’t plan on having a cow about it; quite the opposite, actually.

I don’t spend money on companies that knowingly exploit the witless or insult my intelligence, and any money I spend on fast food in the next 3 months will not be spent on Burger King.

(They can count themselves lucky that it stops there; we all know what Tyler Durden would do.)

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[In other news, look out for one of life’s biggest lies in response to this; the cry of ‘humourless lefty’ aimed at anyone who dares object to a joke that sells or reinforces a damaging lie… like equating homosexuality with paedophilia, for example, or singing about aid to Gaza as if it’s more than ample and used to arm children with missiles.]

To: Nick Catt

[NOTE – UK-based web hosts are particularly easy to bully thanks to certain peculiarities in local libel laws, and people acting for (or on behalf of) Redwire Design have been taking advantage of that, by bullying my priovider rather than admitting their role in… well, more bullying. If Nick Catt or Alex Malloy or anyone else at Redwire Design want to deny the involvement of their staff/facilities in online harassment (including publication/promotion of my home address), then they can initiate actual civil proceedings or shut up. My account is honest and truthful, backed by evidence none of them dare challenge, and it stands. Relocated article reinstated 4 May 2010.]

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Well, the unpleasantness continues, and Alex Malloy is hiding behind his company firewall. If you could take a moment to read the detail and send a quick email to Nick Catt (if you see fit), then I’d greatly appreciate the time and effort. Cheers.

To:
Nick Catt
Managing Director, Redwire Design

Dear Nick,

Apologies for the open letter, but an all-too-familiar game is unfolding and your company Director Alex Malloy appears to have blacklisted my email address(es) in response to my query about the apparent (but still-unconfirmed) spam-blocking of these same addresses by one of your clients.

I use the word ‘client’ loosely given that the relevant account involves Jon Chappell, Alex Malloy’s mate and partner in Kooba Radio. I’m guessing the whole arrangement involving your hosting of their website, email and what have you is more congenial than it is formal, but there is no question of you hosting it and being ultimately responsible for how your servers are used and for the conduct of your Director in their management and for any relevant communication from your staff about that.

Moving in the local band/club circles as you do, you must be aware of a band by the name of The Fighting Cocks. If you don’t know who these people are, your Director Alex Malloy certainly does; he’s played host to them on his Kooba Radio ‘station’ many times, and they appear repeatedly on his website (that you host). Core members of The Fighting Cocks (alongside hangers-on like Jon Chappell) also go by the name of the ‘Cheerleaders’, and in a lonnng campaign of harassment from behind these names and a series of sock-puppets and pseudonyms they have repeatedly published my ex-directory home address in an effort to intimidate me into silence. This all has to do with a conman of their acquaintance by the name of Dominic Wightman (NOT a name I expect you to know; this is just for background).

I can show you evidence of the involvement of the relevant Kooba Radio YouTube account in the active promotion of an account used (only) to broadcast my home address if you have any doubts about this, or if Malloy is denying any of it in your communication(s) with him. When we last communicated, he denied knowing about any of it, but the evidence suggests otherwise (personally, I suspect he’s lying and obfuscating to protect himself and his mates, if you’ll allow me to be frank with you) and it’s still no excuse for his conduct in response to fair and pertinent questions.

Malloy knows who the main account holder for ‘KoobaTV’ is, but refuses to discuss the matter in any way. You may choose to back away into a legally-secure (if morally dubious) position that this aspect of our (ahem) disagreement is none of your business, but he is also refusing to be clear about the nature of an apparent spam-block on an email account that you host, and the stench of bad faith is coming from Redwire’s corner as a result.

Oh, and now I’m receiving further threats made on behalf of these friends of the Cheerleaders who claim not to know anything about those same Cheerleaders. Here’s the latest, received just this morning:

from Princess Calamity [princesscalamity@googlemail.com]
to Tim Ireland
date Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 12:02 AM
subject Re: Publication of your email address

Matyi is about to put a Gypsy curse on you and your entire family, at dawn tomorrow- and it’ll be a bad one :(
… you can avoid this curse, by never contacting or writing about us or anyone to do with us again. I’m sure your wife wouldn’t be too happy about your obsessions leading to her and you and yours getting lumbered with something that will follow your bloodline down the generations, now would it?
So.. your choice Mr Stalker.
:D
x
Priya

[FYI:’ Matyi’ = ‘Charlie Flowers‘]

Now, if it were taken in isolation some people might expect all those concerned to laugh this one off, but I’m detecting an implied threat against my family there, and I’d be interested to know what you think, especially as these and other threats are now being made on behalf of one of your ‘clients’, a Director of your company and now, apparently, the company itself:

from The Fighting Cocks UK [fightingcocks@live.co.uk]
to Tim Ireland
date Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 12:45 AM
subject and you are now, officially, in the shit.

I TOLD you not to contact these people. But your mental condition meant you had to, didn’t it? OK you are now officially in the crap, P-Group has found your web host, and they have been notified.
You have a choice:
1. Walk away and look away, and NEVER contact anyone involved with us again.
2. Keep it up, and reap the whirlwind.

3. This means and includes: anyone at Kooba or Redwire.

Matyi
TFC Cheerleaders

[I fail to see what possible case these people can hope to present to my web host, unless they're following up on Malloy's claims of 'threats and defamation' that he is curiously unable to identify when challenged.]

As you can see, by attempting to contact you I risk ‘reaping the whirlwind’, and I apologise in advance for my next act, which is designed to ensure that this attempt will not have been in vain:

Hi folks. Without being rude about it, please forward a copy of this message (and/or a link to this post) to Nick Catt at nick@redwiredesign.com

If you think I’m being too long-winded (as usual), then do feel free to aid comprehension with your own summary, but please try to remain professional about it, as Nick Catt is a Managing Director and therefore likely to be a Serious Person, unwilling to stand for any swears or abuse.

(I’ll scrub this message when he responds. For as long as it remains live, the request stands. Cheers all.)

These people can only continue to attack me for as long as they remain anonymous, and these people will continue to attack me for as long as the man who is directing the attacks enjoys plausible deniability.

Your man Malloy appears determined to be a strong link in a long chain of ratbags. I’m hoping that you will recognise the value of being at least a little bit more professional about it, even if you’re going to deny all knowledge yourself and pretend that you’ve merely been away from your desk for a 67-hour moment.

Cheers

Tim Ireland

OK, so now we see what kind of person Nick Catt is, I guess.

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UPDATE – Richard Bartholomew – Charlie Flowers Threatens Tim Ireland’s Family with “Gypsy Curse”

Redwire Design

[NOTE – UK-based web hosts are particularly easy to bully thanks to certain peculiarities in local libel laws, and people acting for (or on behalf of) Redwire Design have been taking advantage of that, by bullying my priovider rather than admitting their role in… well, more bullying. If Nick Catt or Alex Malloy or anyone else at Redwire Design want to deny the involvement of their staff/facilities in online harassment (including publication/promotion of my home address), then they can initiate actual civil proceedings or shut up. My account is honest and truthful, backed by evidence none of them dare challenge, and it stands. Relocated article reinstated 4 May 2010.]

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[This post as been relocated to this back-up blog after a complaint was made to my provider on 16/03/2010. The original article was posted to Bloggerheads.com 27/01/2010. Details here.]

This post is about some (or perhaps hopefully just one) of the wonderful people at Redwire Design, but first we need some background for those who came in late (and to cover some recent parts that have only just come to light). Please bear with me:

Early in 2009, a conman by the name of Dominic Wightman (aka Dominic Whiteman, aka Richard Walker) saw in the Glen Jenvey story an opportunity to screw over some former associates while at the same time screwing me (for reasons that have yet to be fully established). This scheme of his resulted in a false claim of paedophilia spread by Jenvey, who (with nothing to gain by lying) later claimed that he was fed this lie and my ex-directory home address by Wightman, along with the assurance that I “needed sorting out”.

Things didn’t quite work out the way Wightman planned, and eventually circumstances led to the uncovering of a blatant smear campaign created and conducted by Wightman, resulting in multiple visits from the police that Wightman hilariously portrays as being appointments of his own design.

Fearing what I might report (there is a LOT that has so far gone unreported), Wightman decided to get his retaliation in early (!) with an extraordinarily rambling, malicious and misleading attack on my good name. It was at this time that some associates of Wightman began to publish my home address alongside false accusations that I was in league with extremists, and a stalker of women.

The bulk of these associates hide behind pseudonyms, go by the collective name of the ‘Cheerleaders’, and are also involved in a band by the name of The Fighting Cocks. There are also some mates and hangers-on whose real names are more accessible, and that group of people includes ‘Jonny Yeah’ (aka Jon Chappell). More on him in a moment.

This campaign of harassment has included the repeated broadcast of my home address to the types of people that Wightman himself has described as having “a history of late-night visits to enemies”. Further, while the ‘Cheerleaders’ style themselves as anti-fascist activists, they had no qualms about repeatedly broadcasting my home address to members of the BNP while alerting them to my involvement in campaigns they would be none-too-pleased with. If the intention wasn’t to do me harm, it was to make me fearful for my safety and cause me distress. It certainly did the latter, especially when the campaign escalated to direct threats of violence, causing me and my family great concern.

‘Jonny Yeah’ (aka Jon Chappell) was CCed on the emails threatening me with violence. Further threats involving the continued misuse of my data were then issued on his behalf (and on the behalf of other relevant parties) after I dared to list on my site the names and/or email addresses of all those who were associated with the earlier therat of violence. ‘Jonny Yeah’ also appears to have been closely associated with an anonymous SPA (single-purpose account) on YouTube that was used in this ongoing campaign of harassment.

I can prove that this account was used to repeatedly broadcast my home address to people the author regarded to be potentially hostile to me, and that this was visibly and quite obviously the only purpose of the account. Further, I can prove that an account in the name of ‘JonnyYeah1′ was associated with this anonymous account and that an account in the name of Kooba Radio (‘KoobaTV’) was used to link to and promote the anonymous account in a way that cannot have escaped the attention of the main ‘KoobaTV’ account holder, even if they were to later claim that they had been hacked or set up or some such nonsense.

Kooba Radio was founded by… ‘Jonny Yeah’ (aka Jon Chappell), along with a man by the name of Alex Malloy (The Boy Malloy) and a mysterious woman by the name of Angela Collins (She Who Must Not Be Named).

After changing his story a few times, Johnny Yeah eventually denied involvement and claimed that Angela Collins had left Kooba Radio. He also appears to have changed the Kooba Radio email settings so they now reject any email from me as spam, but I have yet to confirm this. More on that in a moment.

Public versions of the ongoing online attacks from ‘Cheerleaders’ then started afresh, this time quite specifically on behalf of ‘Johnny Yeah’ and his Kooba Radio colleagues:

screen capture of some recently-deleted tweets from the Cheerleaders

Faced with the following error message, legally, I needed to be certain that I had been deliberately spam-blocked, not least because of the delightfully self-reinforcing accusation of stalking that is so easily exploited in situations where people start refusing contact by email:

Technical details of permanent failure:
Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 571 571 5.7.1 Message contains spam or virus : 16522:4131863472|125F (state 18).

The website and email accounts for Kooba Radio are hosted by a company by the name of RedWire Design.

The man who handles the bulk of enquiries for that company is…. Alex Malloy (Jon Chappell’s partner in Kooba Radio).

So, wanting to give Alex a chance to tell his side of the story (Chapell’s denials implied his involvement), and needing to go through Alex to find out if his ‘client’ had actively spamblocked me, I got in touch.

Having just been informed of pretty much everything I just explained to you, Alex was queried about the apparent spam block, but didn’t act at all surprised about any of it and – speaking as an official representative of RedWire Design – had this to say…

redwire design: we are good people

… before promptly hanging up.

Alex is listed on the Redwire site as a Director of the company (citing Search Engine Optimisation as his lead skill, and you better believe there’ll be more on that in moment).

The only person senior to Alex appears to be Managing Director, Nick Catt.

I should stress that there is no visible evidence of Nick Catt’s involvement in this ongoing campaign of harassment at this stage, but his profile states that he “runs a live music and club night with Alex” (and another man), so he probably knows those ‘Cheerleaders’ who are in The Fighting Cocks at least, and doing the right thing is likely to complicate his life in those circles, so I am wary of any further approach through direct channels, especially with the ever-present risk that someone might hide behind a cry of “Stalker!” at any moment

Instead, I’m here in public (again) having to explain all this crap (again) and finding myself quite surprised that I have to drag some people kicking and screaming into the light just to get them to do the decent thing (again).

In about an hour, this post should be a high search result for queries relating to ‘redwire design’. I am hoping that this will lead to a sudden upsurge of professionalism on their end, but I’m not holding my breath.

In fact, I’m half expecting some kind of misguided counter-attack by Alex Malloy or maybe even the company he does all them professional communications for.

Fine by me. I’d stake my SEO kung-fu against his any day… especially with the law, the truth and a shedload of evidence on my side.

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UPDATE – 48 minutes, this took. Nowhere near the record, but still worthy of mention:

screen grab

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UPDATE (28 Jan) – Hey, guess what, everyone? They’re going to be ratbags about it.

Alex Malloy cannot deny involvement in the KoobaTV account, and it is certainly reasonable in my view to ask who the primary account holder might be in the circumstances. He sees things differently.

Meanwhile the ‘Cheerleaders’ are hopping about angrily playing the side of law enforcement all of a sudden, outraged that I’d dare to ask anyone about their real names (when they claim it is not an issue); the abiding theme is that if I dare to object to being attacked, then they will continue to attack me… but it has already been established that they plan to continue to attack me anyway. It’s just another piss-poor justification to add to the collection.

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