David Vs. Goliath Pt. 2

First off we want to thank everybody for the support we have received concerning this bullshit Cease and Desist order from Lacoste. It looks like Lacoste, or their lawyers didn't like our last blog post and are still sending us demands. We find that amusing. This email was sent by ANOTHER one of their Lawyers, Richard Lehv. What a Dick. Below is the email we received and a nice and lengthy response from us, which we have still not gotten a reply to. We'll take that "W" and keep pushing. Enjoy.

-Dear Mr. Sagastume,

We have received your email of February 3, 2012, in which you say that you are “in the process of taking the #HeadsUp project down from [your] online shop.” Please confirm that you have permanently ceased use of the headless alligator logo to which we objected. In particular, please confirm that you will no longer sell or promote items bearing this logo, not just online, but also through dealers, by word of mouth and in any other manner. 

We request confirmation that you will permanently cease such use because your blog says that you are “just gonna lay low,” which could mean that you will temporarily suspend sale and promotion of the logo, and might resume sale and promotion in the future.

In the absence of an unequivocal commitment by you permanently to discontinue your sale and promotion of goods bearing the headless alligator logo – which infringes and dilutes our client’s famous mark – our client will have no choice but to take legal action against you in federal court.

As for the statements you make on your blog about our client’s factories, please be aware that Lacoste and its licensees are opposed to human trafficking and slavery and take steps to ensure that such illegal behaviors are not taking place within the Lacoste supply chain. These steps include securing contractual commitments from all vendors to refrain from this type of behavior and to comply with applicable laws. Lacoste also has secured the right to conduct facility audits during visits, and to conduct unannounced audits using independent auditing agencies.

In your blog, you make false and defamatory claims about Lacoste and its suppliers, including that Lacoste sells “slave made tennis gear,” “us[es] sweatshops in countries like Guatemala and India,” “pay[s] some of these people 8 cents a day,” “hire[s] kids, some [of whom] are missing limbs from working in the famous brand's manufacturing facilities,” “rob[s] these sweatshop workers of a quality life,” and causes “limbs lost, [and] lives destroyed.” Please explain in detail what steps you took to investigate these claims before publishing them, and provide documentation supporting these claims. If you cannot provide an explanation and supporting documentation, we will assume that you have not done any investigation, and that you knowingly or recklessly published false and defamatory statements about Lacoste. We will add this to our legal action against you in federal court.

Finally, we note that in your email you say you “bought blank hats downtown.” We assume you also bought blank t-shirts and hoodies. Please describe in detail the steps you took to investigate and determine that the hats, t-shirts and hoodies you bought downtown were not made by slave labor, were not made in sweatshops, were not made by workers paid 8 cents a day, and were not made by workers injured on the job, and provide supporting documentation. In particular, please let us know the countries in which the garments you sell were manufactured and whether you visited the factories in which they were made. If you made no such investigation and have no such documentation, we think this will be of interest to the court.

We regard this as a serious matter. Please let us have your response on or before March 8, 2012.

Very truly yours,
Richard Lehv
Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, P.C."

 

Here's our response:

-Richard,

We received your email last week on February, 29th, 2012. In our last email we sent you on February 3, 2012, we already confirmed that we discontinued the use of the "Headless Alligator" Logo you guys objected to, and we removed the "Heads Up Project" off of our online shop days after getting your cease and desist order. We have already complied to your cease and desist order and are confused as to why you are still sending us demands.

We have to assume, and honestly believe that you read our blog post, where we purposely posted the cease and desist order for our readers, and that upset you. We believe that is the reason why you are still making threats to sue. We're making a note of that, especially after we completely cooperated with your cease and desist order. We also believe that you have been jumping to conclusions. You are obviously, unfamiliar with street slang and its meanings, which is understandable. What we don't understand is why you only chose certain parts from our blog post to take out of context. That blog post was about how the design idea came about, not the cease and desist order. That was all you. In your email we received on February, 29th, 2012, you go on to say, "We request confirmation that you will permanently cease such use because your blog says that you are "just gonna lay low," which could mean that you will temporarily suspend sale and promotion of the logo, and might resume sale and promotion in the future.". I think you missed the very next sentence where we say, "I think that design might die happy.". The paragraph before that states, "....we're flattered that we at least caught the attention of the criminals in question. We feel we got our point across.". That should be enough evidence that we're done with the design. Also removing the item in question off of our site is proof that we complied with your cease and desist order. We have to assume that you are retaliating and still making threats to sue due to the fact that you read our blog and saw that we posted your cease and desist order. You quoted our blog, which means after you sent your cease and desist order, you checked back on our site to verify that we complied with so said cease and desist order, but failed to mention that we removed the "Heads Up" project off of our site. You obviously could see that if you took the time to read our blog post and go through all of our accounts in our Stocklists page and send them a cease and desist order as well. That means you checked all our links on our website. Did you check our shop link and see if the "Heads Up" project was removed off our site before sending us this letter? We believe you did, but you still are pursuing this issue and making threats to sue with no validity or proof. We really don't know what else you want from us. We have already complied with your cease and desist order and gave you confirmation of that in the email we sent you on February 3, 2012. We are done using that design and we have been since we got your cease and desist order. It got your attention. It has done all that it could do.TLR&Co. isn't using that design anymore. We have no interest in using that logo in question nor do we have interest in the promoting or selling it. I hope that appeases you.

Now as far as our belief and opinion on your clients overseas business practices, that is all based on actual life experience, extensive research and basic Google searches on sweatshops. It is not our fault that Lacoste's name frequently comes up; as well as their parent company Pentland. Lacoste isn't the only brand that has been accused of these type of practices. Well known brands like Nike and Banana Republic, among others, all use sweatshops, or have used them in the past. They just deny it and and have the capital to cover it up. By the time an audit is called on a sweatshop and the "Agency" touches down, the facility is cleaned up and cleared of any wrong doing. Quite honestly, if you have to audit your factories for any reason, especially bad working conditions, there is already a problem with the way the company is running their business. If your business is a "good" business, big or small, that shouldn't even be an issue to worry about. For years, Pentland and Lacoste have been brought up in bad light when it comes to this issue. Again that is not our fault, and we are not the only people that have said this or believe this. I'm sure you're familiar with R.I.D.E. Rural Institute for Development Education in India. Here's a link for you if you need to get familiar with what they do. http://ajws.org/what_we_do/service_and_travel_opportunities/volunteer_summer/documents/0511_india_ngo_profile.pdf. They also mention Lacoste and the conditions around their factories in India. Again, R.I.D.E. and ourselves are not the only people that believe this. You can not say that we made this up out of nowhere and you can not say that we are recklessly publishing and making false claims when it is a belief that not just one person or group believes in, and that has already been published in a public forum. It is our belief and our opinion, and we just expressed it in a different manner. We blogged about it. We are free to have our opinions and beliefs and we are free to express ourselves through blogging. That should be protected under our first amendment rights to free speech. We think this will be of interest to the court.

In addition to our online research and general google searches on sweatshops, where Lacoste's name gets brought up quite a bit, we are actually from Guatemala. We have family there now, and we are currently planning a trip in the next few months to go back and check out manufacturing facilities. I doubt, you can relate, but on our last visit, we traveled the rural and impoverished areas and bordering towns in Guatemala where Lacoste products were manufactured in the past. We have actually talked to people that have worked in these facilities. We have we have seen makeshift shops where vendors sold Lacoste products with Lacoste's labels sewn in which used to read "Made in Guatemala", as well as other brand's products side by side. When asked where these were manufactured and where they ship to, the vendor replied that they are made in a facility about ten minutes from town and that they ship all over the world. Now I don't know who runs these facilities, and what else they manufacture, but that was just our personal experience which made us think the worst of brands that use sweatshops. You could imagine the frustration we felt knowing this is happening to people just like us. That could have easily been one of us in that situation. We are lucky to have a voice to speak up against such cruelty. We did not need documentation to backup what we saw. That experience alone planted a bad opinion in our brain, and it would affect any human being the same way. A blog or internet research didn't plant that idea. The internet was just a tool that backed up our belief that much more, and it was a tool we used to express ourselves. We didn't make this up out of nowhere. It is out there in a public forum. Google it. 

Now the last part of your email surprised us. You ask us to please describe in detail the steps we took to investigate and determine that the hats, t-shirts and "hoodies" we bought downtown were not made by slave labor, were not made in sweatshops, were not made by workers paid 8 cents a day, and were not made by workers injured on the job, and provide supporting documentation. In particular, you want to  know the countries in which the garments we sell were manufactured and whether we visited the factories in which they were made. We would be happy to. First off, we never made any "hoodies" and are surprised you are making false claims and assumptions after accusing us of the same thing in your email we received on February 29th 2012. Its ironic to say the least. Attached are pictures of the blank hats we purchased from downtown which clearly shows the "MADE IN THE USA" markings on the closure.

There are many blank hat manufacturers in downtown LA where you can see that the hats being made were not made in sweatshops, were not made by workers paid 8 cents a day, and were not made by workers injured on the job. The Santee Alleys and the Garment District of Los Angeles does not look like a sweatshop nor does it resemble one in the slightest bit. It looks like a fashion district with hundreds and thousands of industry professionals buzzing around day in and day out. We have been there many times and the factories in the Downtown Los Angeles area are all around you as you shop. Many clothing lines manufacture out of this area. Out of all the factories we have been to, there was never any bad working conditions. I think it would be obvious to the other hundreds and thousands of people that walk through the fashion district if a sweatshop was in operation and pumping out blank hats. I think the word would spread rather quickly sir.

Lastly, our T-shirts are also made in the USA. We have been using American Apparel products since 2008, which has a manufacturing facility in Los Angeles CA. There, you can see the factory in person and buy your t-shirts directly from the same facility. I'm sure you are aware of their humanitarian outlook towards business and their good standing reputation as a quality made product and brand manufactured right here in the USA. We have been to their facility many times, where we could clearly see that their products that we used were not made in sweatshops, were not made by workers paid 8 cents a day, and were not made by workers injured on the job. They have a really nice factory and genuinely happy employees. They are paid a decent wage, they have a great cafeteria where they feed their employees and if they cant afford cars, they'll give them a bike to get to work. They are advocates for immigration reform and are actually looking out for their employees well being. American Apparel documents this heavily in their campaign ads and on ads they place on the actual outer walls of their factory. That is why we use them. Anyone can see their facilities and KNOW that they are not using any shady business practices like using sweatshops. They are a great American company made in Los Angeles. Attached is an invoice showing that we have not only been using American Apparel products for years, but that we have physically been to there factory in Los Angeles where you can shop, get a tour of their facility and pick up your order as well. We did all that.

Now in conclusion, we have met all your demands and have complied with your cease and desist order completely. With all that being said, we're still gonna believe what we're gonna believe, and that is our right as American citizens. We also have the right to express our views and beliefs however we feel. That is our 1st amendment right. The only thing that will change our outlook is proof. That will consist of a few things. We ask that you please explain in detail what steps you took to investigate that Lacoste and its parent company are no longer involved with the use of sweatshops and documentation to prove that they never have used them in the past. Also, we ask that you send us documentation on the most recent unannounced audit using independent auditing agencies in Lacoste's overseas facilities. If you can not provide us with this information, then we are left to believe that your clients truly have used sweatshops in the past and might do it again. We will also be forced to let our community know that we have complied with you and your clients cease and desist order, but that you and your clients have failed to produce evidence and documentation proving that their denial of using sweatshops is valid. As you say, we need "Documentation". If that is the case and you can not provide us with any documentation, a simple public apology to their customers and citizens of the world would suffice. We know that isn't going to happen.

The last note we want to add is a nice one, Richard. We actually believe that we could help Lacoste with their issues, they're branding, their new brand's (Lacoste Live) aesthetic and also the negative views against them. Lacoste has many resources and many ways to help the world and make an actual effort to appease us and advocates against sweatshop use. We would love to talk to one of their corporate representatives to discuss this further. Please let them know that we are reaching out to them to turn a negative situation into a positive one. We would hate to have an even worse opinion of Lacoste than we do already. Our last email we sent you on February 3, 2012 proved that we complied with your cease and desist order. Our blog post, that got you guys to send us this email we are replying to, explained the idea behind the design. And this letter proves that we are not out to hurt your clients well being or their business, its a world issue we are bringing to light. It also shows that we are willing to work with your clients to better their image hear in America and around the world. We hope to hear from them soon.

Please let us have your response on or before March 16, 2012.


Regards,

TLR&Co.
Word Is Bond

-They still have not replied to our demands which we find interesting. The point of a cease and desist order is to stop the dilution of a brand or a copyrighted logo, as they claim we were doing. Aren't Lacoste's lawyers diluting their own clients good will and brand name?.  We believe so. We hope Lacoste sends their lawyers a cease and desist order for this fuck up. They need one. Really though, what more evidence do you need? This pretty much proves our point right? Lacoste uses Sweatshops and Lacoste needs new lawyers. 
 
Feel free to send their representatives a letter. Let them know that their lack of producing evidence to protect Lacoste's "good" look is astonishing! Tell em to stop fucking with small American businesses and top using sweatshops.
 
Richard Lehv: rlehv@fzlz.com
Todd Martin: tmartin@fzlz.com
Craig Mende: cmende@fzlz.com

TLR&Co.
Word Is Bond.



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