If you missed the response from a Cottleville, Missouri pub owner to a cease-and-desist letter from a Honigman lawyer, here's your chance for a laugh out loud moment. The cease-and-desist letter seeks to protect the Starbucks' trademark "Frappuccino" from contamination by Exit 6 Pub and Brewery's ale "Frappicino." The cease-and-desist letter and response are both available here, on Scribd. The pub owner's second sentence alerts you that you're in for a treat:
I am writing in response to your letter dated 12/9/13 in regards to “Frappuccino” (at the risk of further lawsuits, heretofore known as “The F Word”) beer listed on Untappd.
Some have called the letter sarcastic. I think "tongue-in-cheek" is a better fit. In any case, enjoy.
Here's reminder to all lawyer-parents that their kids are listening, all the time. From Bitter Lawyer comes this cute story about the editor's son asking him whether it's legal to kill a bald eagle in self-defense. His advice was not encouraging about a successful defense, at least in Minnesota. He told his son that he'd probably be answering plenty of initial inquiries from federal officials about what provoked the bald eagle to attack him and how he happened to kill it, and that he'd probably end up in a plea deal, paying a fine, doing time, or negotiating something in between.
As is often the case, the world of comedy got there first. I first heard this joke at a legal conference 15 years ago. An online search turns up several versions. Here's mine:
Judge: The charge you face is shooting and killing a bald eagle. Did you know that the intentional killing of a bald eagle is a violation of the Protected Species Act, subject to imprisonment and fines?
Defendant: Yes, your Honor.
Judge: And how do you plead?
Defendant: Guilty, your honor, but with an explanation.
Judge: Which is?
Defendant: Well, your Honor, I'm backpacking in this beautiful country of yours when I get lost, use up all my supplies, and nothing to eat for ten days except a few berries and nuts. I'm drifting in and out of consciousness by this lake, thinking I'm a goner, when all of a sudden I see this giant bird swooping down to grab a fish. I think maybe if I startle the bird it'll drop the fish, so I pick up a stone and throw it in the direction of the bird. I didn't mean to kill it, but when it fell to the ground I figure having the bird and the fish for dinner is my last good chance to stay alive. And so I do.
Judge, after a recess: In light of the duress you were under and your lack of intent to kill the bald eagle, I will dismiss the charges.
Defendant: Thank you, your Honor. I'm really, really grateful.
Judge: (leaning over, in a low voice): Before you go, I'm just curious. What does bald eagle taste like?
Defendant: Hard to say, your Honor. The best I can describe it is more tender than a California condor but not as moist as a whooping crane.
In the New Yorker, "Judging Humor" describes the complexities of litigating humor:
In adjudicating disputes about humor, courts often must decide
whether a particular communication is, indeed, funny. The cases are
diverse, based on theories ranging from contract, trademark
infringement, and sexual harassment to defamation.
A remarkable trend appears in these cases: they tend to track wisdom
about humor developed by decades, even centuries, of humor scholars.
Humor scholars have toiled to find the essence of humor, the quality
that transforms a communication into something that inspires laughter.
Most scholars agree that incongruity is a necessary (though not
sufficient) part of all comedy. The unlikely juxtaposition of two parts
of life, it turns out, gives the spark that creates a joke. Of course,
the conditions must be right for the spark to work: timing, context, and
There is no way to prevent entirely the mangling of proper names in case names, but it is time to do something to improve the chances of getting them right. That is the purpose of this Pronouncing Dictionary.
Now, you have no excuse for anything less than perfection in your Supreme Court oral argument.