Sunlight challenges a trademark takedown


On Sept. 17, we received an email from a “legal administrator” asking Sunlight to remove the Deloitte logo from three pages at Influence Explorer. They didn’t challenge our use of the company name, or the data we presented. It was a simple request, but one that we could not abide. We felt that it was fair use, and that the logo helped identify the company for Influence Explorer users. Whatever the intent, the effect would chill the legitimate use of the logo, and that it was wrong for this entity to do so.

Here’s the text of the request, which was sent via Sunlight’s email contact form:

From: Sunlight Foundation

Date: Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 9:22 AM

Subject: [] message from Legal Administrator c/o Deloitte

Legal Administrator c/o Deloitte is looking for info on press and communications:

Good Day,

I am contacting you on behalf of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (“DTT”), owner of the world-famous trademarks (i) DELOITTE, (ii) DELOITTE TOUCHE, (iii) DELOITTE & TOUCHE TOHMATSU, (iv) TOHMATSU, (v) TECHNOLOGY FAST 50, and (vi) TECHNOLOGY FAST 500 (the “Marks”). We manage DTT’s domain name monitoring activity and brand identity issues on the Internet.

I am writing to ask your cooperation in removing the Deloitte logos from the following webpages:

Deloitte has no other issue with any of the remaining content on these webpages but if you could address the issues with the logos, or direct this message to the person responsible for the administration of the above websites, your help would be greatly appreciated.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at the email address associated with this message.


-Legal Administrator

So we sought out help to understand our rights and the law. We would like to thank the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and particularly Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. At our request, she has sent the legal administrator the following letter to defend our claim. We’re posting it for context, and to encourage others so approached to exercise their rights. McSherry has written about the letter here.