Dear Reader:

This page documents the attacks on our web site, Slatkinfraud.com, and our previous ISP, WestHost, by an attorney representing the Church of Scientology: Ms. Ava Paquette. Headers for these and other, incidental emails can be supplied on request.

Ms. Paquette has become notorious for harrassing ISPs that host sites critical of Scientology. Her legal threats are barratrous and never-ending, so it was no surprise when our domain, slatkinfraud.com, became one of her targets. In the past, Ms. Paquette has even claimed that the word "Scientology" was copyrighted and not to be used. Experienced ISPs have learned to ignore her. Ours, WestHost, didn't. Litigation is one of Scientology's sacraments, and WestHost is a tiny company, and their so timidity is understandable.

We left WestHost and moved to Earthlink, where we've been for seven weeks. Earthlink has not relayed any 'Ava-grams' to us since we've been with them, nor has Ms. Paquette contacted us directly, which lends support to our contention that she only bullies ISPs she believes vulnerable. There are a variety of reasons why she may not be able to push Earthlink around, but that's another topic.

In a nutshell, Ms. Paquette's charge is that we are infringing a trademark by displaying the Scientology cross on our web page. Our response is that our use of the cross is covered under the fair use provisions of the Lanham Act.

For the record, we altered the cross slightly when we moved out site to Earthlink: we made it bigger.

 
COLOR KEY :    
Ava Paquette =
David Touretzky =
"MT" from Westhost =
 
september 26, 2001

Here was the initial message from Scientology lawyer Ava Paquette. We ignored this.
 
Dear Mr. Touretzy:

Our office represents Religious Technology Center ("RTC"), the owner of the trademarks of the Scientology religion, including the "SCIENTOLOGY CROSS", which is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office under registration numbers 1,302,525, 1,012,452, and 1,325,117.

The records of Network Solutions reflect that you are the registrant of the domain, slatkinfraud.com. We have been informed that our client's federally registered trademark, the "SCIENTOLOGY CROSS," has been placed on two of the web pages on that domain under the following URLs:

www.slatkinfraud.com/img/slat_4.jpg
www.slatkinfraud.com

Our client would not and does not authorize this use; accordingly, this federally registered trademark has been placed on these web pages without the authorization of RTC.

Your unauthorized use of our client's federally registered trademark in this manner has caused you and your web page to be falsely associated with our client's federally registered mark as owner and creates a likelihood of confusion as to the source or sponsorship of this web page, in violation of United States state and federal law, including the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.  1125(a) and various state and federal laws.

In addition, this federally registered trademark is distinct, unique and famous. Accordingly, your use of these marks in this manner dilutes and tarnishes the distinctiveness of the mark in violation of the federal trademark antidilution statute, 15 U.S.C.  1125(c) and California's antidilution statute. See, Archdiocese of St. Louis v. Internet Entertainment Group, Inc., 34 F.Supp.2d 1145 (E.D. Mo. 1999); Mattel, Inc. v. Internet dimensions, Inc., 55 U.S.P.Q.2d 1620 (S.D.N.Y. 2000); Deere & Co. v. MTD Products, Inc., 41 F.3d 39, 43 (2nd Cir. 1994).

Because the placement of this trademark on these web pages violates United States and state trademark law, we request that this trademark be removed immediately.

Sincerely,
Ava Paquette
Moxon & Kobrin
3055 Wilshire Boulevard
Suite 900
Los Angeles, California 90010
Tel: (213) 487-4468
Fax: (213) 487-5385

 
october 1, 2001

Our ISP at the time, Westhost received an almost identical complaint.
 
Dear Gentlepersons:

Our office represents Religious Technology Center ("RTC"), the owner of the trademarks of the Scientology religion, including the "SCIENTOLOGY CROSS", which is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office under registration numbers 1,302,525, 1,012,452, and 1,325,117.

We have been informed that one of your customers has placed our client's federally registered trademark, the "SCIENTOLOGY CROSS" on two of his web pages on Verio's web site under the following URLs:

www.slatkinfraud.com/img/slat_4.jpg
www.slatkinfraud.com

Our client would not and does not authorize this use; accordingly, this federally registered trademark has been placed on your customer's web pages on Verio's web site without the authorization of RTC.

Your subscriber's unauthorized use of our client's federally registered trademark on Verio's web site in this manner has caused your customer and his web page to be falsely associated with our client's federally registered mark as owner and creates a likelihood of confusion as to the source or sponsorship of this web page, in violation of United States state and federal law, including the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a) and various state and federal laws.

In addition, this federally registered trademark is distinct, unique and famous. Accordingly, your subscriber's use of these marks in this manner dilutes and tarnishes the distinctiveness of the mark in violation of the federal trademark antidilution statute, 15 U.S.C. 1125(c) and California's antidilution statute. See, Archdiocese of St. Louis v. Internet Entertainment Group, Inc., 34 F.Supp.2d 1145 (E.D. Mo. 1999); Mattel, Inc. v. Internet dimensions, Inc., 55 U.S.P.Q.2d 1620 (S.D.N.Y. 2000); Deere & Co. v. MTD Products, Inc., 41 F.3d 39, 43 (2nd Cir. 1994).

This use also violates your Acceptable Use Policy.

Because this subscriber's placement of this trademark on these web pages violates United States and state trademark law, we request that this trademark be removed immediately.

Sincerely,
Ava Paquette
Moxon & Kobrin
3055 Wilshire Boulevard
Suite 900
Los Angeles, California 90010
Tel: (213) 487-4468
Fax: (213) 487-5385

 
october 2, 2001

We replied, pointing out that we were well within the bounds of fair use by using the mark. Westhost forwarded this email to Ms. Paquette.
 
Dear "MT" and other WestHost crew:

Thank you for forwarding to me the complaint you received from Scientology lawyer Ava Paquette regarding the use of a trademarked image at www.slatkinfraud.com. Ms. Paquette, herself a member of the Scientology cult, has a long history of harassing Scientology critics with bogus legal threats. Her claims about "unauthorized" use of the trademarked Scientology cross are totally without merit. The Lanham Act, the law that governs trademarks in the US, forbids unauthorized use of another's mark ONLY WHEN ENGAGING IN COMMERCE, i.e., selling something. Ms. Paquette cites 15 USC 1125(c) in support of her
claims, but this regulation explicitly permits "fair use" of a trademark in contexts other than commerce. You can read the law for yourself here:

http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/15/1125.html

You will note that Ms. Paquette conveniently forgot to mention in her letter to you the exceptions listed in 15 USC 1125(c)(4)(B) and (C), specficially:

"The following shall not be actionable under this section:
...
(B) Noncommercial use of a mark.
(C) All forms of news reporting and news commentary."

The SLATKINFRAUD.COM web site is a noncommercial news reporting site. Our use of Scientology trademarks is for purposes of identification only, and is no different from TIME or Newsweek using an image of the "Golden Arches" when running a story about McDonalds restaurants.

In order to deny Ms. Paquette the opportunity to engage in further harassment, we have modified the web site by placing a registered trademark symbol (an R inscribed in a circle) next to the Scientology cross, and adding a notice on the site acknowleding that the Scientology cross is a registered trademark of Religious Technology Center. There can thus be no possibility of confusion about the ownership of the mark.

Sincerely,

-- Dr. David S. Touretzky
owner of the SLATKINFRAUD.COM domain

 
october 25, 2001

Ava replied to Westhost, who passed this onto us.
 
Dear MT:

Pursuant to your request, this is my response to your customer's e-mail to you regarding my notice of trademark infringement on his web page. His position is legally incorrect.

First, be advised that your customer does not have permission to use our client's federally registered trademark, the Scientology Cross, on his web site, nor would he be granted such permission. The mere act of placing a trademark symbol next to the mark does not, in any way, give him such authorization. This would be tantamount to an ISP, completely unrelated to Westhost, taking Westhost's trademarks and putting them on their web site without Westhost's permission with a trademark symbol next to them. As you can see, this would not legalize or authorize the use of Westhost's trademarks in this manner and in fact, would only provide further evidence of misuse by the infringer.

Second, in addition to representing Religious Technology Center ("RTC"), we also represent the Church of Scientology International ("CSI"), a licensee of RTC, which has authorized its use of federally registered trademarks, including the Scientology Cross. Both CSI and RTC are non-profit religious organizations. CSI and its sub-licensees use the Scientology Cross in connection with providing religious and humanitarian services, seminars, books, classes, and lectures, among others. Many of these are promoted through various web sites, including "scientology.org", "dianetics.org", etc.

In contrast, the web page that Mr. Touretzky now maintains on Westhost's web site is an anti-Scientology (and anti-Reed Slatkin) web page. As discussed here, while Mr. Touretzky is entitled to express his views, he cannot use our client's federally registered trademark to do so.

In this connection, Mr. Touretzky misunderstands trademark law with regard to his unauthorized use of our client's trademark on his web page, particularly as it applies to the Internet. As you may be aware, intellectual property law has expanded and adapted itself with the advent of the Internet, particularly with regard to the commercial aspect of the Lanham Act. In this connection, recent case law has held that "[t]he nature of the Internet indicates that establishing a typical home page on the Internet, for access to all users, would satisfy the Lanham's Act's "in commerce" requirement." Christian Science Board of Directors of the First Church of Christ, Scientists v. Robinson, 123 F.Supp.2d 965 (W.D.N.C. 2000). Use of another's trademarks are a "commercial use" where it is "designed" to harm another's organization commercially by disparaging it. Christian Science Board, supra. Commerce for purposes of the Act emcompasses non- profit services. Id.

Moreover, Mr. Touretzky admits that he is using our client's mark to suggest the same source identification, i.e., Mr. Slatkin is the same as CSI. In this regards, he states that he is using our client's mark "for purposes of identification." As the law states, this is precisely the use reserved strictly for the trademark owner and Mr. Touretzky's appropriation of our client's federally registered trademark in this manner creates a likelihood of confusion in violation of trademark law. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Doughney, 113 F.Supp.2d 915 (E.D.Va. 2000).

Accordingly, Mr. Touretzky's unauthorized use of our client's federally registered trademark on his web page on Westhost's web site violates the law and as such, we request it be removed immediately.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
Ava Paquette
Moxon & Kobrin
3055 Wilshire Boulevard
Suite 900
Los Angeles, California 90010
Tel: (213) 487-4468
Fax: (213) 487-5385

 
october 25, 2001

Along with the fwd'd email, shown directly above, Westhost asked us to 'just remove it [the image]'.

We replied to Westhost.
 
> We received another e-mail about that image on your site. Will you
> just remove it? That would probably be the easiest solution for all
> of us.

I see no reason to remove this image. Ms. Paquette is blowing smoke; her legal arguments are garbage. She completely ignores the sections of the law I cited that permit fair use of a trademark -- WITHOUT PERMISSION -- for purposes of news reporting and commentary. We do not need her client's permission, and we would not ask for it. Also, there is no way that our use of the Scientology cross could possibly confuse anyone into thinking that we were offering Scientology services, or were affiliated with Scientology in any way.

Ms. Paquette is quite skilled at distorting the facts when she wants to pressure an ISP into censoring a web page. For example, she writes:

"while Mr. Touretzky is entitled to express his views, he cannot use our client's federally registered trademark to do so."

This is a clear misrepresentation. I'm not using the Scientology cross to express my "views"; I'm using it to illustrate the affiliation between Mr. Slatkin, who is an ordained minister of the Church of Scientology, and the Church of Scientology, its parishioners, and its teachings. This affiliation is a matter of public record, not an opinion. And it's highly newsworthy, as evidenced by recent lengthy articles in Talk and Esquire magazines on the Slatkin/Scientology connection, and extensive coverage of the Slatkin fraud in other print and electronic media which you can find listed on our web site.

If Ms. Paquette is serious about pursuing this ridiculous trademark infringement claim, let her go to court and try to get an injunction against our use of the image. That is the proper way to proceed. But she'll never get an injunction. The law is clearly on our side here, and she knows it. She's just hoping that Westhost doesn't know it.

Since Westhost is not at risk in this case, there's no reason for Westhost to do for Ms. Paquette what a judge would refuse to do. I suggest you tell her that Westhost is not in the business of adjudicating petty trademark disputes. She needs to direct any future correspondence on this matter to me, or to the courts.

Regards,

-- Dave Touretzky

 
december 28, 2001

We continued to ignore the 'problem'. Meanwhile, in mid December, we began to have 'technical difficulties' with the image file itself. The file was deleted, had its permissions set to '0' and deleted again. Westhost denied responsibility in all those incidents, until it happened for the last time on December 28, as this email indicates.

As you can see, Ava went over Westhost to its backbone provider; UUNet. (or so we're told.)
 
This time it was us that disabled the file. We are getting a lot of heat from UUNet about this file. That is our backbone provider. They have requested these files be disabled. They have actually asked that we have you move the entire site/domain but that's still being discussed. For the time being however I have no choice but to tell you to keep that image off the site.

Best Regards,
MT

 
december 29, 2001

We then transcluded the image, removing it from Westhost's servers. Apparently Westhost still viewed it as 'their problem'.
 
As long as it's still showing on http://slatkinfraud.com/ then it is our problem even if the image is on another server... you'll need to remove it.

-MT
 
december 30, 2001

We requested that Westhost's legal department contact us.
 
Dear WestHost:

Please put me in touch with your legal department.

I am the owner of the domain SlatkinFraud.com, which is currently hosted on your servers. Your support person "MT" recently had some correspondence with my webmaster, Scott Pilutik, which is causing us serious concern. Westhost is threatening to pull our site unless we remove a particular image that the cult of Scientology is trying to suppress. (This is *not* a copyright issue; Scientology's lawyer is making bogus trademark infringement claims.) "MT" has further said that we may not even transclude this image from a server outside of WestHost. Thus, WestHost is seeking to censor the content of our web site. We have also been told that this is a result of pressure being applied to WestHost from UUNet.

Scott and I have both tried to explain to "MT" why our use of this image is perfectly legal according to US trademark law, and that Scientology's proper recourse, if they feel our use of the image is unlawful, is to get an injunction against me. No judge would ever grant such an injunction. I have consulted with attorneys about this. Scientology's legal claims are completely without merit and would probably result in punitive sanctions if they were foolish enough to bring this before a court.

Nonetheless, WestHost persists in trying to edit our site. I don't think further correspondence with "MT" will be helpful. I need to speak with WestHost's legal counsel, or a corporate officer familiar with legal issues.

ISPs have fought long and hard for legal protection against liability for customer content. WestHost may not realize that by accepting responsibility for, or editorial control over, the content of customer web pages, you are setting a damaging precedent that will create huge problems for you in the future. You really shouldn't want to go down that road.

For the time being we have removed the image from the WestHost server, but we continue to transclude it from a server in Pennsylvania -- as is our right. I request that you take no action against our web site until I have had a chance to speak with your legal counsel. Please send me a name and phone number to call, or you can have them call me on my cell at 412-xxx-xxxx any time between 2pm and midnight (Eastern time), 7 days a week. It would also be helpful if you could forward to me any correspondence you have received from UUNet.

I appreciate your help in resolving this matter to our mutual benefit. I hope to remain a WestHost customer for a long time to come.

Sincerely,

- -- Dr. David S. Touretzky

 
january 8, 2002

Westhost completely ignores our request, and goes on to relate its ignorance in the entire matter, calling it a 'copyright dispute' and blathering on about a statement on our site that the cross is, in fact, 'their cross,' ... a matter that was never in dispute.

They then request that we move the site to a new ISP.
 
David,

We have been contacted again by this law firm and they will be filing a suit against us if the current cross is not removed today. They feel the current cross you made is similar enough to cause a cause a copyright dispute and you also state on your site the intent of it to be their cross. WestHost does not wish to be involved in this law suit and are requiring you to take this down tonight or we will have no choice but to disable the entire domain. We are also asking that you move this domain name to another provider. We will keep the rest of the site up (assume you take the cross off) until you get this done. Any pre-paid hosting will be refunded to at the time we close this account. Please confirm once the cross has been taken down from your site.

Best Regards,
MT

WestHost Support Department
support@westhost.com
http://members.westhost.com/

 
january 9, 2002

MT from Westhost goes on to spew more misinformtion and evidence that he's ready to do whatever puppet dancing Ava Paquette request of him.
 
As long as the image is pulling from a page we host then it's our problem. We have this similar situation with Adult web sites. People try to put the actual adult images on another server and just the HTML and domain on our servers. We can't allow that. As long as they are being pulled via a domain name we host then it's under our jurisdiction. One of the problems they complained about was your alt tag. It said something about the copyright. It looks like you removed that.

They are probably going to say something about this link too... Click HERE to access what Scientology doesn't want you to see.

But I'll let you leave that unless you hear otherwise from me.

Thanks
MT

 
january 9, 2002

We replied one last time to Westhost.
 
> As long as the image is pulling from a page we host then it's our
> problem.

If that's your policy, then that's your policy. It's certainly not what the law says. Apparently you don't have access to good legal advice. We could have put you in touch with EFF attorneys if you'd only asked.

> As long as they are being pulled via a domain name we host then it's
> under our jurisdiction.

Again, this is some legal fiction you've bought into. It's nothing I've ever heard of before, and I've been active in Internet free speech issues since 1995.

> One of the problems they complained about was your alt tag. It said
> something about the copyright. It looks like you removed that.

I don't know what the old ALT tag said; I'll ask our webmaster. We certainly didn't remove it intentionally. And I have no idea what they're objecting to, since you never bothered to show us the complaint.

Once again, I repeat my request for copies of their complaints. I want to know what kind of nonsense these folks have been feeding you. They may have libeled us; they may be guilty of tortious interference with a business relationship (between us and WestHost.) Not that I'm planning to sue anybody as long as you allow us to move our site in an orderly fashion without service disruptions. But I do feel I have a right to know what's being said about us that is causing us to have to move.

> They are probably going to say something about this link
> too... Click HERE to access what Scientology doesn't want you to
> see.

They may well complain about it, since they realize now that WestHost is easily pushed around. But we'll be gone soon, so don't worry about it. And don't even *think* about messing with the content of our web page. You can tell Ava that you have no legal basis for editing offsite links on a customer's web pages. In fact, making unauthorized changes to a web site you don't own is now classified as cyber-terrorism, and under the USA Patriot Act of 2001, carries harsh CRIMINAL penalties. Let's not go there, shall we?

-- Dave Touretzky

 
january 21, 2002


Westhost makes parting comments.

As of February 26, we haven't heard a single PEEP out of Earthlink.

 
Hello,

I have closed slatkinfraud.com and you will be issued a prorated refund.

I noticed you moved to Earthlink. I'd have to say they are going to be a lot less tolerant then WestHost would be. First word of a complaint and they'll probably shut you down. I'm just warning you. I saw that happen with another site we host.

Best Regards,
MT

WestHost Support Department
support@westhost.com
http://members.westhost.com/