FOXLER, BEOWULF & YIFF
c/o Milo Worldwide LLC
244 Fifth Avenue, Ste. #1248
New York, N.Y. 10001
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
FAO: In-house Counsel / Chief Legal Officer
5600 N River Road, Suite 800
Rosemont, IL 60018
We have been made aware of impending legal action from your client Midwest FurFest in relation to trademark infringement and we write to establish our clients’ position on the matter. We confirm that our client, the snow leopard Princess Sparkle Claws, purchased a membership for Midwest FurFest at the “shiny sponsor” level for $300 on August 14, 2019. On September 16, following outcry from a small but vocal number of online homosexuals, your client, Midwest FurFest, cancelled Princess Sparkle Claws’s membership with no explanation given. In so doing, you also cancelled the membership of New York Times-bestselling author, award-winning journalist and international hair icon Milo Yiannopoulos.
As you may know, Her Royal Highness and Mr. Yiannopoulos are so intimately acquainted as to be inseparable. Indeed, they have never been seen in the same room together, and are often described as “two sides of the same coin.” They therefore felt it appropriate to register under the same name, that of Mr. Yiannopoulos. Mr. Yiannopoulos is a sincere and devoted member of the furry community, who even offered his valuable time to organize a panel during the conference.
Her Royal Highness, is of course, a snow leopard. They were both distressed to hear that you considered them ineligible for membership, especially since you failed to provide a reason beyond vague allusions to violent acts that may or may not be committed by third parties—notably, not by my clients. My clients consider this a breach of covenant motivated, upon information and belief, by discriminatory attitudes to their political orientation, and perhaps by jealousy of Princess Sparkle Claws’s full and lustrous mane.
Further, as conscientious members of the community, they are distressed to witness Midwest FurFest’s use of other conferencegoers’ registration fees to pursue vendettas against their perceived political opponents. The fact is, your client has caved to pressure from a small, but vocal and violent, online contingent of activists, most of whom are not even attending, and never have attended and never will attend, Midwest FurFest. The funds you are now using to litigate against my clients were provided in good faith by furries who believed that Midwest FurFest was a place free from discrimination, open to all regardless of color, orientation or creed.
They were assured in this belief by the continued permission given by you to “Growly,” a currently incarcerated child molester and a regular fixture at your events. Even pedophiles, they thought, were welcome at MFF. Alas, the truth is darker and more sinister: expressing political opinions even slightly to the right of Jane Fonda, as my clients do, appears to be grounds for termination.
This cannot stand. Mr. Yiannopoulos reached out to you repeatedly, offering to clear up any misunderstandings and to correct the record about the many counterfactual and defamatory smears leveled at him by individuals on Twitter, reddit, Telegram and elsewhere repeating ugly and discredited falsehoods about him. My clients are considering actions against these individuals, whose behavior rises to the level of tortious interference. You failed to engage with Mr. Yiannopoulos despite these good-faith efforts. As a consequence, Mr. Yiannopoulos and Princess Sparkle Claws have endured an almost unimaginable deluge of hateful, threatening, and—worst of all—appallingly poorly spelled communiqués, of which we here provide a mere glimpse.
I get it now you just want the money your [sic] just a literal narcissistic psychopath
— “BeorthWulf Teh Wolf,” via Telegram
You are not welcome at MFF 2019. I hope i [sic] see tou [sic] there because ill [sic] beat you and your friends [sic] asses with a tire iron.
— “Xavier the Fox,” via email
we will be breathing down your neck, waiting, watching, ready to make example of that little pretty-boy smile, and who you how we handle little fascist cowards like you … scum like you and your cronies are why i keep strapped at cons, and why many others do the same. My people are out here, ready to deal with trash like you, in numbers you could only fucking fathom in your most vivid, pant shitting nightmare … Just letting you know ahead of time, a huge portion of us in the fandom and a particularly massive number of us whom [sic] attend conventions, have backgrounds in security, law enforcement, armed service [sic], bouncing bars, etc. … so when you threaten to encroach on our places of community, and read [sic] your ugly head / know we’ll be watching and waiting. ready for an opportunity when you inevitably fuck up … so mind your own, journalist boy. you’re fucking with powers beyond your kin [sic].
— “Zakumei,” via Telegram
if he wanted to keep his teeth so bad maybe he shouldn’t have been a Nazi
— “Redd for Smash,” via Twitter
Who would be willing to draw me ripping the rosettes off of Milo’s fursona? I am sorry but he is not allowed to be a snep and I will figuratively tear him apart, spot by spot.
— @JaseSpots, via Twitter
Someone at MFF should throw a brick at Milo’s face.
— @WKDart, via Twitter
Upon information and belief, you have done nothing to address these credible violent threats, including but not limited to the express written intention of coming to your event with a concealed firearm, in violation of local law and your own rules. This, coupled with your tolerance of child predators, suggests a whimsical—nay, wanton—and highly capricious application of your own rules that is clearly actionable on grounds of discrimination.
Mr. Yiannopoulos has a considerable public platform and, even now, after many attempts by left-leaning social networks to expel him from the internet, commands an impressive, highly-motivated fan base. Doubtless he will make many new admirers in the furry community this year for standing up to you. Indeed, as we can ably demonstrate with the thousands of encouraging public and private messages he has received, there is already significant support for Mr. Yiannopoulos within the furry community—more than your client might imagine. Therefore he and Princess Sparkle Claws deigned, in an act of almost unfathomable generosity, to offer signed welcome notes under the hotel room doors of every guest at the official conference hotel.
It is these welcome notes to which we understand your upcoming complaint refers, and which we will now address. Mr. Yiannopoulos is one of the most commercially successful authors in the world, well known for his satirical bent, among other kinds of bent. Knowing, as every one of your attendees surely must, thanks to widespread news coverage in outlets as varied as Dazed, the Daily Mail and the Daily Beast and a firestorm of online controversy, that Mr. Yiannopoulos has been banned from this and any future Midwest FurFest, it is inconceivable that his welcome messages could be understood by a reasonable person as anything but good-natured satire.
Mr. Yiannopoulos and Princess Sparkle Claws are also protected under the “fair use” provisions of all relevant copyright statute given Mr. Yiannopoulos’s status as a respected and prominent journalist and given that his coverage of your event, couched in satire though it may be, is firmly within the tradition of criticism, comment and reporting, each of which represents a complete defense to your claim. Furthermore, the description of Mr. Yiannopoulos as an “Official Platinum™ Elite Sponsor,” a level of sponsorship which does not exist, further underscores in the mind of any reasonable observer the satirical nature of the welcome message, as does the description of him as a “hair icon,” though we would point out that this is a demonstrably factual description.
My client is entirely within his constitutional rights to lampoon your totalitarian organization and he will continue to do so. What is more, since learning about the appalling prevalence of sexual amorality, especially the abuse of children, in the fandom, aided and abetted by the lax vetting procedures of your organization, Mr. Yiannopoulos, himself a victim of child abuse, has indicated his desire to pursue more of the sort of investigative journalism for which he is rightly known—and, in some quarters, feared—with a specific focus on your organization.
You will be aware that Her Royal Highness and Mr. Yiannopoulos and their supporters have block-booked rooms at several of the hotels at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center for the duration of your conference. They have at least two rooms at the Hyatt itself and access to many others at many neighboring hotels, granting them unfettered access to hotel facilities. My clients are determined to attend as many events, public and private, as they can. We note that Mr. Yiannopoulos is, at the time we write, receiving invitations to drinks parties even from your own staff members. His appearance and inevitably attention-seeking antics are therefore set to vastly overshadow any other media coverage of the event, and this is wholly and entirely your client’s own responsibility.
Thus, this needless kerfuffle, this wretched and fatuous donnybrook, is set to be indelibly linked to the Midwest FurFest brand if you continue your current wrongheaded strategy. To your client, we say: The door to saving yourself from a public relations disaster is open. It is your choice whether or not to walk through it. Her Royal Highness Princess Sparkle Claws and Mr. Yiannopoulos can both be reached at the email address and telephone numbers you already have on file.
Head of Intewwectual Pwopewty
To order a signed, framed copy of the welcome message, click here.
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