Detroit might be dealing with derelict buildings, pension battles and ravenous goats, but the Motor City’s bankruptcy lawyers from Jones Day are ticked off about the creation of KevynOrr.com, a satirical website named after former firm restructuring partner Kevyn Orr, who was hired last year to serve as the city’s emergency manager.
Visitors to the site, which Internet domain name registry WhoIs reveals was created on May 26, are treated to a large picture of Orr above a subtitle stating that the website “will be launching soon.”
Up until Thursday afternoon, the site had included the tagline, “Detroit’s economic coup d’etat has been brought to you by,” followed by an array of presumed sponsors, such as UBS, Bank of America and the American Legislative Exchange Council—the latter of which The Detroit News likened in a pro-union op-ed column last year to a “shadowy organization of corporate lobbyists.”
Jones Day IP litigation partner Robert Ducatman in Cleveland responded with a cease-and-desist letter, which KevynOrr.com subsequently posted on its site, highlighting the language: “Your conduct will be closely monitored.”
The site has since been stripped bare to only include the words “Satire and Education” in parentheses as a disclaimer, along with a fair use notice.
The battle between big business and organized labor has been one of the many backdrops to Detroit’s massive $18 billion bankruptcy case, which will be a year old next month. The Am Law Daily has previously reported on Jones Day’s role advising the city before and after its Chapter 9 filing—the firm’s bills in the case broke the $17 million barrier in May—and Orr, a University of Michigan Law School graduate, has been a focus of criticism by those who feel the Motor City is running over its rank-and-file in order to reorganize itself to the benefit of corporate interests.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Jones Day’s logo was also among the array of those so-called sponsors listed on KevynOrr.com, according to a report last week by the Detroit Metro Times, a weekly newspaper that recently published an in-depth feature story about the city’s Chapter 9 proceedings.
The Metro Times reported this week that the Jones Day logo had been removed and replaced with one that simply read, “Justice Deferred,” presumably after the website’s operators received the letter from Ducatman ordering it to stop the “unauthorized and infringing use of Jones Day’s registered service marks.” Now that replacement logo is also gone.
Ducatman’s notice states that “continued unauthorized use of these marks constitutes, at a minimum, service mark infringement, service mark dilution and false description.” In closing, Ducatman writes that the firm would “avail itself of all legal and equitable remedies available, including the commencement of litigation without further notice” in the event KevynOrr.com didn’t comply with Jones Day’s request to remove its logo.
Ducatman, who once represented the Cleveland Catholic Diocese in sex abuse litigation, did not respond to a request for comment about the letter, nor did a Jones Day spokesman. KevynOrr.com’s representatives could not be reached by the time of this story.
Jones Day recently helped Detroit reach a deal with some bondholders as the city seeks to push forward with a reorganization plan. Last month Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the city would fire the firm and remove Orr as emergency manager when his term ends in September if the city doesn’t emerge from Chapter 9 by that time, drawing the ire of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, who publicly called that plan a “bad idea.”