Mail vs Male makes mess
Author sues AOL over 'male-mail'
November 3, 1999
AuroraAurora — The author of a book titled ''You've Got Male'' is suing America Online, alleging the Internet giant is blocking access to her Web site because the title closely resembles its e-mail catchphrase, ''You've Got Mail.'' — The author of a book titled ''You've Got Male'' is suing America Online, alleging the Internet giant is blocking access to her Web site because the title closely resembles its e-mail catchphrase, ''You've Got Mail.''
Aurora — The author of a book titled ”You’ve Got Male” is suing America Online, alleging the Internet giant is blocking access to her Web site because the title closely resembles its e-mail catchphrase, ”You’ve Got Mail.”
Madelene Sabol, a relationship counselor who lives in Aurora, said AOL has been threatening her and it is difficult for people to purchase her book online by informing them the site is unavailable through the AOL server. She said company lawyers also have demanded the Web site be transferred to their authority.
Ms. Sabol’s attorney James Thorburn of Elizabeth filed a lawsuit in Elbert County District Court Oct. 28 seeking a permanent injunction and a restraining order against AOL.
”I am tired of big corporations bullying the little people,” Ms. Sabol said. ”I don’t think big corporations should own the English language and I would like to be a part of the change to stop these corporations from taking over everything.”
America Online officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Recommended Stories For You
In September, AOL spokesman Jim Whitney said the company doesn’t want customers to be confused into thinking the book is associated with AOL.
Whitney also said the company is concerned it could lose its trademark if the phrase is too often used as a generic term.
This is not the first time AOL lawyers have thrown their weight behind what they perceive to be a trademark infringement.
In August, a Virginia judge threw out a case brought by AOL against AT&T for a similar claim.
AOL filed suit against AT&T because the company believed AT&T’s ”You Have Mail,” was too similar to the AOL ”You’ve Got Mail” catchphrase.
Judge Claude Hilton issued a summary judgment in favor of AT&T because, according to his published opinion, ”There is simply no adversarial conflict about whether ‘You’ve Got Mail’ is a trademark or is instead generic.” AOL has appealed the ruling.
Ms. Sabol said representatives from AT&T have contacted her and have offered to help her in her case. AT&T officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday.
Ms. Sabol said she sees her lawsuit as more than just a battle over a commonly-used phrase.
”This is a fight for the little people, who have more dreams than money,” Ms. Sabol said.
”This is a chance for us to stand up against corporations who say just because they’re bigger than can push people around and restrict what we say.”