You might remember an article I wrote about the email Commissioner Smith sent to attorney Bob Wilhoit back on January 29, 2019, alleging collusion and conflicts of interest between myself and Mr. Turner; who the Town of Ramseur hired last year to redesign, host, and maintain the town’s website. Part of that email is reprinted below:
“As of today, I am launching a “NO SMEAR” campaign, I will be actively seeking cyber bullies that have been targeting The Town of Ramseur, The Town of Ramseur’s Council and the Citizens of Ramseur (where deemable by the citizens) and hold them accountable for their actions to the full extent of the law. I seek to remove these websites and pages at all costs.
“I don’t care what it takes, I will help aid in this fight. I hold over 300 pages of documented content published by Ramseur watchdog and its Facebook page, as well as screenshots of the website Ramseurwatchdog.com where James Thurman Hubbard III aka Jay Hubbard, takes responsibility for his role as admin to this website and as the owner of said site.”
For the record, my legal name is Thurman James Hubbard, III, a fact that could have easily been discovered had Mr. Smith bothered to do a little research.
What Commissioner Smith fails to understand is that in the United States of America, we have this thing called the Constitution, and in it there’s a bit called the Bill of Rights. The first statement in the Bill of Rights – something called the First Amendment; first because the founders thought it was important – states that every American citizen has the right to free speech, and the right to publish their thoughts and opinions about our government and the people we elect without fear of censorship for simply speaking the truth.
There are limits to free speech, but generally they apply to things like calling for violent revolution, inciting riots, or blatantly lying about people. As publisher of this website, I have done none of those things, and I take great pains to make certain that what I write here is true and can be proven by evidence such as primary source documents.
On Tuesday, February 19, 2019, Mr. Smith sent another email to Mr. Wilhoit, expressing his desire to know where the process of sending cease and desist letters to yours truly currently stands. I reproduce the message in full below:
From: Town of Ramseur [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2019 11:02 AM
To: Bob Wilhoit <email@example.com>; Bobbie Hatley <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Cease & Desist
Where are we on Cease and Desist letter for trademark infringement?
Keep in mind our Trademark is a basic “word” mark, the word being Ramseur. Trademarked as a body/politics. The logo is just an added addition as are the words “where friends and family meet”. Anyone infringing on the Town of Ramseur’s Trademark are subject to legal ramifications. We voted on this at the last board meeting.
Ramseurwatchdog.com falls directly within the trademark infringement category. The content posted on the site is body / political content, marking it content directly towards The Town of Ramseur, further evidence that this website is infringing on the Town of Ramseur’s Trademark indefinitely.
I will give you the admin contact name, address and phone number for Ramseurwatchdog.com, upon request.
If you need help on this matter, let me know and I will hire you some help, out of my own pocket. Attached to this email is a sample letter that is a standard for Trademark infringement, for your review and altercations.
Bob, please understand that this is not going away. I will continue to fight these issues until they have been completely resolved. I have a personal attorney working on some other matters pertaining to this website as well. I’m sure you will be getting a phone call from him very soon.
Commissioner Adam Smith
Poor Commissioner Smith, he just doesn’t get it. He wants me to receive a cease and desist letter for “trademark infringement”. He insists that the the Board of Commissioners voted for this at the February 4th meeting, when no such thing was done. The board voted to “let Bob look into [the trademark issue]”. There was no vote to apply for a trademark, and even if there was, such applications take months, or even years, to work their way through the system.
Lest anyone get confused about what what I’m about to say and accuse me of trying to practice law without a license, let me be clear: I am NOT an attorney. I didn’t even finish my undergraduate degree. What I say here is my opinion based on easily discovered online resources; a municipal seal or name cannot be trademarked.
If I understand the complaint, Smith alleges that my use of the word ‘Ramseur’ in the name of this website is an infringement on a trademark that the Town of Ramseur has not been awarded. For one thing, if that argument were valid Ramseur Quick Lube, Ramseur Country Diner, and Ramseur Family Dentistry, to name a few, would have to change their names. In addition, those t-shirts I see in stores like the Just Save, with Ramseur’s name on them, would also be in violation.
Here’s a link to an article posted at National Legal Research Group, discussing this very topic. In the article, two municipal trademarking cases are discussed, involving the City of Houston, Texas, and the District of Columbia. The city of Houston sought to trademark its municipal seal in connection with various services, including commerce and tourism; the District of Columbia sought to trademark its official seal to cover various items such as shirts, pens, cups, and hats. Both applications were denied.
I hope you’ll take the time to click through and read the article, but the bottom line is that “despite the creative arguments in favor of registration, the Federal Circuit affirmed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s decisions denying both municipal trademark applications… A local government entity cannot obtain a federal trademark registration for the entity’s official insignia.”
Commissioner Smith has not only wasted taxpayer money on poorly executed and unfinished work at Sunset Knoll cemetery, he is also throwing away our money on actions he has initiated without board approval as well as legal fees that are unnecessary.
In the email above, Smith offered to help pay for additional legal assistance out of his own pocket. Instead, perhaps he should consider reimbursing the Town of Ramseur for the unfinished painting and unacceptable masonry work done last year on his watch, the unapproved trademark application fee, and any legal fees incurred in his reckless attempt to infringe upon our First Amendment rights; a blatant violation of his oath of office.