280 comments

MMM Receives Legal Threats – Great Lawyer Wanted

The threats are real.. but how we respond to them is our choice.

The threats are real.. but how we respond to them is our choice.

Sigh. I suppose this was bound to happen sometime.

This blog is approaching its third birthday and has been blessed with over 62 million page views from 5.2 million people and counting. Many people have helped and contributed along the way, and while we rant, swear, and speak out against many aspects of our culture, there have been very few bumps along the way. Even the corporate world that we occasionally mock has left us alone. Until now.

A few weeks ago, a flurry of registered letters and FedEx packages started arriving at the Mustache residence. They were from a law firm representing a company who didn’t like something that had been said by a member of the Forum section of this website.

How did they even find out about this conversation, you might ask? Through Google searches. After all these years, this website has garnered sufficient page rank that when we talk about something, it shows up high in the search engine rankings. The company was apparently Googling their own name, found something they did not agree with, and decided they wanted to silence the critics. Here’s a copy of that first letter, signed by the chairman:

The first threat. In retrospect I have learned it is complete bullshit, but it was scary at the time.

The first threat. In retrospect I have learned it is complete bullshit, but it was scary at the time.

From what I could tell, there wasn’t much merit to their complaint. They were asking me to take down posts that a reader had made regarding their company, alleging that it was “Libelous”. Never mind the fact that Section 230 of Title 47 of the United States Code holds that website owners cannot be held responsible for comments that their users make.

I could have taken it down anyway and been free from the hassle. But the whole thing seemed like bullshit to me. If I’m going to sit here and write about financial independence and the freedom it gives you from putting up with bullshit, I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a corporate law firm push all of us around with questionable legal threats.

Adding to the bullshit nature of the claims, it seemed like my adversary was humorously unaware of the Streisand Effect: trying to suppress information only ensures its permanent and widespread distribution. That shit may have worked for totalitarian leaders intimidating villagers, but come on, the Internet has been invented. Can a tiny East Coast firm suppress a large blog, run by a person who thinks suppressing information is really, really evil?

So while I removed the old post pending some legal advice, I did take one step: I started a new thread on the forum, explaining the legal threat that I had received. I figured it was only fair that people should know what is happening, and there is no possible threat of libel from me simply reporting some actual events taken by this company. The Mustachians had a field day with it, and the discussion continues.

Well, they didn’t like that either. I came home from my day of carpentry today to find a slew of “sorry we missed you” registered mail and FedEx notes, and a non-registered letter from that same law firm. Inside was a huge printout of the whole forum thread and even more scary threats from the lawyers.

They stated that their lawsuit would be targeted against my wife and I, as well as our domain registrars (translation: we’ll get your website taken down too.)

It may all be groundless bullying, but it is also a little scary.

I’d love to have an aggressive lawyer who could receive these little threat letters for me and turn them around on the originating firm, so they would know that we will not be bullied. I do have several good friends who work in or own law firms, and they have provided some early encouragement. But rather than imposing on them, I thought it would be most appropriate (and most entertaining) to reach out to the Mustachians first.

If there’s an actual law we are breaking here, I will gladly stop breaking it, and offer my full apologies to those affected.

But if we are within our legal rights, then I will absolutely fight with every resource available to preserve those rights and keep publishing the opinions of both forum users and myself. And the results of the battle and the names of the companies who have attempted this will be published on this blog forever for the protection of others.

Update: After further advice from the MMM legal team, I can now safely share more details. The company is called Kiss Trust. The forum thread they are objecting to is this one right here. Their law firm is called “Law office of Mark B. Williams, PLC”, and here is a copy of the letter they sent me:

kiss_trust_threat

I’ve heard that all state BAR associations forbid their members from sending threatening letters when they know there is no real basis for the complaint. If a law firm is publicly shown to be doing this, it could be very bad for its reputation. But the practice remains widespread, and this surprises me.  I’m not saying that Mark B. Williams’ law firm would stoop to such a level – I don’t know enough of the law to prove such a thing. But if this does turn out to be the case, it will be important for this information to remain public as well. And for all other letters I receive from law firms to be published for further scrutiny by a larger audience.

Hey! What do you know, this new one came from another lawyer just the next day!

the_march_10_threat

Either way, I look forward to learning the truth so I can better comply with the law, and sharing the results with you all along the way. I could not imagine a better learning experience, so I thank Kiss trust for providing us with this opportunity!

I will also start a dedicated page on this blog so this story and others from readers about legal and corporate harassment can be shared. It makes sense that if suppressing information and opinions with fear is the disease, then a public forum where we can share them permanently with each other is the antidote.

This blog reaches over 25,000 lawyers every month as just a tiny slice of its readership. I’m looking for one person, an aggressive and serious one who is willing to take on the bullies. This blog, while not a big-bucks operation, can pay you for your time as required, and you will also receive my wholehearted endorsement and recommendation if you want your firm’s information to be public. Ideally, this would become a recurring story as we document the progress of our fight.

Who’s in?

Update: I’ve found my great lawyer! After dozens of responses from attorneys in all sorts of firms, I have had an amazing crash course in first amendment law over the last 24 hours. What strikes me is how incredibly baseless the threats seem to be – they directly contradict everything the best lawyers around are telling me the law says! One of the cited precedent cases in that second letter turned out to be about an old couple with a leaky roof, and had no relationship to defamation at all.

I have chosen one firm to represent the blog, and we have some response letters in the works, which I can share with you as they are finished and sent.

If you are a US attorney with expertise in this area (or are just interested in helping out), please get in touch with me through the blog’s contact form here: https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/contact/

Although I am now happily represented and ready for some fun, the crowdsourcing effect of this article is amazing: we can combine knowledge from all attorneys and focus them into one case, ensuring a very good result.

Many thanks and here’s to the next three years!

love,
Mr. Money Mustache

p.s. Kiss Trust – don’t you wish you had just left that innocent single comment alone in the forum now? And will you consider leaving all other bloggers alone from this point forward?

In response to your first threat, I documented your actions on a low-profile forum thread. The second threat encouraged me to write this article.
Then it spent some time on today’s top 10 in Hacker News.
Then the king of first amendment defenders, Ken White from Popehat tweeted it to his 12,000 twitter followers. (Thanks Ken!)
There’s currently an editing battle going on in your Wikipedia Entry between an IP address registered to your office, and somebody else who has added reference to this post. So you asked to have the whole post deleted, but Wikipedia isn’t listening to you either! (Internet etiquette tip: you’re not supposed to write your own Wikipedia entry)
And you got a good chunk of the country’s first amendment lawyers digging into your own firm and each of your law firms.

We can go a lot further on the publicity side of this, so just let us know where you want this story to appear next. It should be pretty obvious by this point that it is not me who is hurting your reputation, it is you. The more interesting you make this story, the more people will decide they want to share it. So keep making it interesting, and I’ll keep documenting!

On the other hand, when you are done punching yourself in the face, you can send me a personal apology and a promise never to do this again to anyone. I will publish it and we can all go back to our real jobs. Although your behavior is wrong right now, I have no objection to your actual trust business, and I believe in forgiveness. I think your potential customers may as well.

Update 2: This has all blown over

It didn’t take long after this post for things to go back to normal. I never heard from the company again, although I did receive second-hand word that they were pissed at the results of their attempted squelching. I also heard from the management of corporate-owned blog Get Rich Slowly that the K-trusters had sent very similar legal harassment to them over an honest review of the company’s products. What a bunch of bullshit. Glad it is over but we remain vigilant for the next battle.

  • Arfink March 11, 2014, 10:16 pm

    Email the guys at Popehat!

    http://www.popehat.com/

    Ken White is awesome, and has thoroughly crushed such bullies before on the behalf of the internet, often pro-bono.

    Reply
  • lauren March 11, 2014, 10:30 pm

    Okay, this is interesting from an intellectual standpoint – having had to deal with these types of lawsuits for a company I was employed by several times over. What I find most fascinating however are the multiple unsolicited offers for financial legal assistance. I can’t help but find that kind of ridiculous when there are so many other, in my opinion, *better* things to donate your money toward – Doctors Without Borders, Partners in Health, Oxfam, things that help people who are *starving,* can’t afford medical assistance etc. No offense, but this blog is a business, as MMM stated, a business that earns REVENUE and a hearty profit – like what most people in America make as a “regular” salary and use to support dependents etc. One of the functions of a business is to have expenses to cover any such liability. In America, stupid and slanderous lawsuits are one of these things. MMM rightfully offered to pay along with other benefits to a lawyer, and it is an expense justified by the price of doing business (until the laws change accordingly) along with other less tangible benefits, also rightfully so. It would be a great day when people that have money and are ready and willing to jump at a chance to donate to a business’ legal fees – when, in all likelihood the charges will go nowhere – have first extended themselves further and instead to help their fellow starving man.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache March 11, 2014, 10:44 pm

      You make a good point, Lauren, but I prefer just to thank people for their kind thoughts generous tendencies – all generosity comes from the right place in my book, and it is what life is all about.

      Any surplus money that this blog earns will eventually go to pretty much those same charities you mention anyway, so if someone does subsidize this “business”, they are in effect making indirect charitable donations.

      But I’m still not asking for handouts if I can avoid it. People should definitely channel their generosity to Doctors without Borders, Oxfam, Partners in Health, or anything on GiveWell.org, and they can benefit directly from the good feelings right away.

      Reply
    • chc4444 March 11, 2014, 11:53 pm

      Lauren: My guess is that anyone who is offering money to MMM for legal fees does indeed donate to other causes social/environmental that they feel are deserving.

      Reply
    • The Stoic March 12, 2014, 8:41 am

      Lauren,

      I like your contribution to the comment thread, but I’m curious as to why you have framed this in an either/or manor?

      I’m in complete agreement with you that there are other “better” causes for a group to contribute it’s money to, but what makes you think that is not already being done? Why would it have to be one or the other?

      I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a good part of this readership already donates it’s time and money to causes like the ones you have mentioned. Any contribution of a person’s resources is a reflection of their values. The wonderful thing is we can have multiple values that we feel compelled to contribute to. I’ve donated to some of the causes you mentioned above as well as others, but I also give time/money to my local community in which I live and given a chance I would contribute to my “virtual” community as well if the cause resonated with one of my values. Defending a group of people’s rights to express and share their ideas freely without the prospect of harassment seems like a worthy cause to defend even if the underlying frame work of that community has a business structure.

      Think of the many products and services that we use regularly. Is not the cost of the legal department already baked into the price that you pay for the product/service? However, the benefit of that legal department does not go to any of us, but is utilized by the company itself. Here we have an opportunity to benefit the MMM legal fund. I get to support a cause that defends the right of you and I to share our thoughts respectively and constructively without the threat of outside forces influencing our exchange. This to me is worthy of supporting, not just for MMM, but for all of us.

      Reply
      • Cyrano March 13, 2014, 6:27 am

        If the question is, how will I spend the next dollar, it is an either/or. That dollar can only be spent once.

        Now, a few very convicted utilitarians do spend their time, energy, and money on preventing others from dying, until they themselves have a standard of living not too far above subsistence. I am not such a person, so the next sentence is simply an observation rather than a judgment.

        If one draws the line at saving N people from starvation, and then says, instead of saving N+1 people from starvation, I will give money to support a legal kerfuffle between two wealthy people, because variety is good, and I’ve done enough starvation prevention already, it really does show that the point of charity in one’s life is how it makes one feel, rather than its benefit to the recipients.

        Reply
        • D March 15, 2014, 5:11 pm

          Which however does not change anything for the N people saved from starvation nor the N+1th person who actually dies – they dont care about your attitude to saving them….

          Reply
    • Lily May 16, 2014, 10:11 pm

      Totally preachy, Lauren.

      Reply
  • Xavier March 11, 2014, 10:46 pm

    While I’m technically a lawyer, I’m non-practicing and also trained in Canada rather than any of the potential jurisdictions in your situation. That being said, this sounds like a whole lot of hot air. As someone else mentioned, there’s a rationale for companies to chase down intellectual property infringements and be the big mean corporation against the little guy because if they do nothing they risk their IP being diluted or lost. This isn’t that type of a situation.

    Like others, I also don’t see how this one can fly. Libel? For a comment I assume you didn’t even make and was probably fair comment? If this approach were valid, every time someone gave a bad review of a product in the reviews section of an online retailer, the retailer would be vulnerable to a successful libel claim. I doubt it.

    One idea to bounce off your counsel is to let the other side know you will post every single threatening letter they send you and keep a link on the front page, tweet the link etc. If the company has any desire to maintain the value of goodwill in consumers minds they will back off rather than show the types of practices they engage in to stifle free speech and fair comment.

    Reply
  • efemmeral March 11, 2014, 10:50 pm

    You want Ken White. He is a renown First Amendment attorney, one of several bloggers at popehat.com, and an internet hero. He helps to arrange pro bono local counsel for threatened bloggers.

    Imperative Reading: “So You’ve Been Threatened With A Defamation Suit”.

    Reply
  • Clare March 11, 2014, 11:05 pm

    As I know you live near me, I’d highly recommend my lawyer. Thomas Moore in Niwot. Fights mean but fair and has always protected my family.

    Reply
  • Katherine Santon March 11, 2014, 11:33 pm

    MMM,

    I sent you an email through the blog’s contact form but, in case it didn’t go through, I wanted to post here as well. I am a lawyer at one of the largest law firms in the country and am very experienced in these types of disputes. It would be a pleasure to help you with this issue, especially since I am a long time reader and have read nearly every blog post on this site. I have greatly appreciated all the advice and all I’ve learned from you and would be happy to give back. Please contact me at my email listed above.

    Best,
    Kate

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache March 12, 2014, 12:16 am

      Thanks Katherine, I did get your letter and wrote back to you with all the information you requested. Thanks very much for your amazing offer!

      Reply
    • Prob8 March 13, 2014, 7:55 pm

      Thanks for stepping up on this one Katherine. If this was in my practice area, my comment would have been similar to yours. As you know, this blog/blogger is well worth defending. If you are selected to assist . . . go forth and kick ass!

      Reply
  • Zane Selvans March 12, 2014, 12:50 am

    As they say in Texas… Remember the Oatmeal

    Reply
  • Captain Anon ymous March 12, 2014, 3:18 am

    That’s the problem with using your real name on the Internet. Eventually some psychopath with an axe to grind will show up at your door to do evil things to you or your children if you are not at home. It happened to a friend of mine who made what he thought was an offhand comment in a forum like this. I have been on the Internet since before the Web, and I have never once used my real name. My ISP is in another country in somebody else’s name.

    Reply
  • Alan March 12, 2014, 3:21 am

    Reply
  • Chesebert March 12, 2014, 4:35 am

    I would try to contact Colorado Lawyers Committee and see if they can refer a law firm that will take the matter on a Pro Bono basis. The firm I am working for does have a Denver office and I understand they do work with Colorado Lawyers Committee on Pro Bono matters.

    http://www.coloradolawyerscommittee.org

    Reply
  • Bee March 12, 2014, 4:36 am

    Glad you are fighting it and publishing the details. Don’t let them silence you. And pls keep us posted

    Reply
  • Golden March 12, 2014, 4:56 am

    Oh dear, I just googled KISS trust….that’s not good for business ;)

    Reply
    • LennStar March 12, 2014, 5:26 am

      Is it that one in the Wikipedia article? Where it looks like they wrote it themselves?

      You know – corporate speech, intensive naming of founder, PR links etc?

      I think corporations would be better of if they just stated the facts int heir WP articles instead of trying (and mostly failing) to present a certain picture.

      Reply
      • Golden March 12, 2014, 5:30 am

        More that the forum topic discussing this issue is #3 on the first page (for me anyway…who knows the inner workings of google these days?)

        Reply
        • Zach Turner March 12, 2014, 5:19 pm

          Comes up 3rd for me in a Google search as well. PLUS–the Wikipedia page already has a paragraph re: Le scandale du Mustache!

          Reply
        • lentilman March 13, 2014, 9:58 am

          #3 on pg 1 for me too.

          Reply
          • gazzamatic March 19, 2014, 8:45 am

            Currently it’s #3 and #4 on page 1. Ouch!

            Reply
  • Christophe Garcia March 12, 2014, 4:56 am

    All my support from France, MMM.

    Reply
  • Ben March 12, 2014, 5:33 am

    Crazy.

    However, sometimes this kind of action could be warranted (In different circumstances)? For instance, I knew of an ecommerce retailer who sold products through multiple channels including a large bidding website.

    A customer posted a review on the website saying that the product was cheap, nasty and counterfeit (which of course wasn’t true and the retailer had special rights to sell the product in the country to prove it).

    Needless to say, both the customer and the website refused to take down the comments and the retailer lost a significant portion of sales through the website since people believed the customer. The only solution was to react in a similar fashion to this. Eventually the website took down the comment.

    Having said that, this seems totally out of line! Best of luck resolving this!

    Reply
  • Pete T March 12, 2014, 6:22 am

    Thanks MMM! I will certainly avoid KISS Trust in the future. They clearly engage in some shady business practices.

    Reply
  • Karen March 12, 2014, 6:36 am

    Ditto to the people who say not to get overworked with this. It’s OK to let it go. Your goals should be having a bad@ss blog that helps people, and living a bad@ass life. Nuclear war with a knucklehead financial company does not sound very productive.

    Get them off your back fast and move on with life!

    P.S. As a reader, I’m not interested in reading the “MMM legal drama blog”, I want to read the “live your life with total bad@assity MMM blog.” The former puts me to sleep, the latter is inspiring.

    Do what you need to do (or, throw all the letters in the bin) but don’t lose your focus on living the good life. Don’t let them bring you down!

    Reply
    • oddohomes March 12, 2014, 1:37 pm

      “your goals should be”

      Hahahaha! Cute.

      Reply
    • D March 15, 2014, 5:22 pm

      And that is the problem with supression, you try to ignore it until the frog in the warming water is cooked…

      …sometimes you have indeed to stand up, face the music and fight back as hard and fast as you can to stop the bullshit forever…

      Although people and companies have a right to fight against badmouthing them, the ubiquiteous use of C+D orders for no obvious reason and with no ‘common sense’ phase is disgusting.

      Having been the target of such ‘lawsuit lottery’ behaviour both privately and professionally before, MMM is doing the best thing possible – drag them out into the open and let them eat the shit they cooked up (and report the law firm to th ebar association for good measures).

      Yes, I would rather read a positive thread, but participation in this seems worthwhile for me, because it does protect your freedom as wel – you americans should know what this is supposed to be about, nes pas ?

      Reply
  • lhamo March 12, 2014, 6:37 am

    I think you should trademark the term “KISS my ass trust” and go head to head with them in the financial services arena — basically serve as a clearing house for the services some of these good-willed, like-minded lawyers who are pitching in to help you fight this to set up trusts for reasonably fees for all the incredibly wealthy mustachian folks out here who might need such legal structures to protect their hard-earned assets. You could call them your EMPs — Endorsed Mustachian Providers. Reasonable fee for reasonable service. No gouging or profiteering needed or allowed. Pretty soon they won’t have any money to pay their lawyer fees and you can continue to help people prosper in peace.

    Reply
  • sam March 12, 2014, 6:47 am

    Don’t underestimate the power of the internet mob! The best thing for them to do is to forget this whole thing, and try to use Google analytics and internet marketing to try to bury your blog posts deep in their Google searches.

    Reply
  • Despondent Millionaire March 12, 2014, 8:01 am

    Guess they can Kiss our support goodbye!

    Reply
  • John March 12, 2014, 8:05 am

    On the topic of hefty legal costs, I know you’ve always strived to keep this blog mostly ad free but if a lack of funds for legal fees was going to jeopardize it then I’m sure us readers would more than support you taking steps to generate additional revenue to fund a legal battle. Being in the internet marketing space I can attest to the fact that a blog with this level of popularity could certainly make tens of thousands of dollars (or much more) per month. Could help to ease the financial burden of legal fees, even if it’s only for the short term.

    Reply
  • Stephen Herr March 12, 2014, 8:24 am

    I’m not a lawyer, but I think what you really want is legal representation that will work for a percentage of your winnings (heck, you could even give them 100% if you wanted to).

    The problem with paying the lawyer directly is that their representation can basically say “Sure you’ll win, but we’ll drag this out as long as is physically possible and appeal and appeal again until you’ve spent X Million dollars in legal fees. Is that really what you want?” Paying your lawyers as a percentage of your winnings removes that leverage from them.

    Reply
  • Anon March 12, 2014, 8:39 am

    Hmm. Looks like Mark B Williams’ law practice has a negative review from a dissatisfied DUI client. http://local.yahoo.com/info-12431027-mark-b-williams-attorney-at-law-warrenton

    Reply
  • SavvyFinancialLatina March 12, 2014, 8:49 am

    Don’t let them bully you! It’s your freedom of speech. And everybody else’s too.

    Reply
  • bwall March 12, 2014, 8:55 am

    The more I think about it, the more I believe that this has to be a publicity stunt for KISS Trust. There is simply no other explanation. It goes back to the old marketing saw “All news is good news.”

    They now have their name mentioned more often on the web and they have created quite a buzz going beyond their traditional market demographic. More people now know of them than they can ever have dreamed of and the only cost was a couple of letters from lawyers. Hard to get cheaper advertising than that.

    I think that who ever came up with this idea at KISS Trust will be getting a well deserved raise (or bonus) for getting their name out. It’s ballsy, and it worked!! Heck, their wikipedia page has already been updated (and lengthened!) to reflect this dispute. Now, that is fast, effective marketing already done by Mustachians on their behalf at no cost to them!

    As MMM points out in the article, if they thought that they could quash this information on the internet then that means that a bunch of ostensibly really smart people must have their collective heads up their asses. Personally, I refuse to believe that these brilliant financial innovators are really stupid enough to think that if they send a couple of threatening letters that they can make something disappear on the internet. It MUST be their marketing strategy for 2014. No other explanation.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache March 12, 2014, 9:56 am

      Fun theory, but I disagree. I think they really do want this to go away. I have learned that this is a common practice.

      The thing is that most of the time, it works. The blogger removes the content due to fear of legal costs, the search results are cleaned up, and the company thinks it won.

      I’ve talked in more detail to someone who runs a company that does this. Some of the companies actually believe that the contested online speech is illegal and that it is unfair for it to remain out there published and hurting their firm.

      If they can get it removed via legal means, this reinforces their belief that it was a good tactic. If it backfires, that belief may start to fade.

      This is the first backfire this Kiss company has experienced.

      Reply
      • angulo March 12, 2014, 10:40 am

        Shouldn’t Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley sue this people??
        I’ve heard they are mightily protective of their brand and quite litigious also.

        Reply
      • Lila March 15, 2014, 11:10 pm

        Why is it common practice if it hurts their brand? It doesn’t make any sense. I wouldn’t buy anything from Kiss Trust. That’s very unprofessional.

        Reply
    • wauske March 15, 2014, 4:13 pm

      “Personally, I refuse to believe that these brilliant financial innovators are really stupid enough to think that if they send a couple of threatening letters that they can make something disappear on the internet. It MUST be their marketing strategy for 2014. No other explanation.”

      Interesting way to put it. Just how, exactly, is their product “brilliant and financially invovative”? I can understand the ease of use but there are bound to be dozens as easy to use, Trust Egg for example. Easy, clean website, no known C&D actions…

      Reply
  • Mr. Frugal Toque March 12, 2014, 9:22 am

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned about retired people, it’s that they have a lot of time on their hands.
    They’re the group most likely to get all curmudgeony on you just because they’ve got nothing else to do and they’re the least likely to let you push them around.
    Good luck, fear-based-litigators. You’re going to need it.

    Reply
  • SHUELL March 12, 2014, 10:27 am

    Reply
    • Yossarian March 13, 2014, 1:25 pm

      “Hopefully not a euphemism, suggest you investigate”

      Hilarious, thanks for sharing.

      Reply
    • D March 15, 2014, 6:06 pm

      Thanks for this link – had a wonderful laugh. Stands to show lawyers are actually better than their reputation….

      Reply
  • Dana Macarthur March 12, 2014, 10:50 am

    Ok,
    I have read the letter twice now and I have read most of the replies to this post.And there is ONE glaring problem that has not been addressed.In the letter the law firm sent you they hinted at “RICO Claims”.RICO is a Federal law used to prosacute organized crime.RICO stands for the Racateer Influnced Corrupt Organizations Act.
    And only a law enforcement agency could go after and prosacute you for violation of this law.(After many years of investigation and for serious crimes).
    Therefore I think they are grasping at straws.I would also look into the possiblity of having this asshats get into trouble with the feds themselves for trying to use this threat against you.
    But you are right for fighting this and I (and many people who have read this post, but have not responded) do support you. I can understand and see the wisdom from the other people on this board cautioning you not to get involved in a long legal battle.
    But a hero is someone who steps up, when everyone else backs down. Good Luck!

    Reply
    • LanceBurkhart March 12, 2014, 4:04 pm

      RICO has a civil suit provision that allows any person who is injured due to a RICO violation to sue. In my opinion RICO is an overbroad and unconstitutional statute, but the Supreme Court disagrees.

      Reply
  • Robert Birnie March 12, 2014, 10:55 am

    As much as a boycott seems like a good idea, I don’t think any of us would buy their products to start with, so its probably not to effective….

    Reply
  • Mike March 12, 2014, 10:56 am

    MMM’s blog is not just another blog on the internet.

    MMM’s changed my life in many ways for the better. And for thousands of others.

    If there’s a time for us to give back, this might be it. Thanks of course MMM for all you’ve done, you have a knowledgeable, motivated group of people ready to back you up.

    Reply
  • Jozzel March 12, 2014, 10:57 am

    I like that this post has already made it to the front page of Google results now for ‘Kiss Trust Company’. I also notice Wikipedia already references this post in the criticism section for ‘Kiss Trust’.

    If they are concerned about receiving negative press and reviews, their actions do not seem to be having the desired effect.

    Reply
  • Ken L March 12, 2014, 11:14 am

    Sorry to hear about this, the patent trolls are doing a similar thing to podcasting. If you ever set up a Kickstarter to fund the fight, I will donate.
    http://fundanything.com/en/campaigns/patenttroll

    Long Live the MM Pirate Ship, we will not go down!
    P.S. these kind of people are the worst…

    Reply
  • Jeff Rutherford March 12, 2014, 11:25 am

    I ignore any letters from law firms that use clip art on their letterhead – just saying . . .

    Doesn’t speak highly of their general business acumen.

    Reply
  • imsharper March 12, 2014, 11:34 am

    I like that the Kiss Trust on Wikipedia has this at the top of the page :)

    This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedia’s deletion policy.
    Please share your thoughts on the matter at this article’s entry on the Articles for deletion page.
    Feel free to edit the article, but the article must not be blanked, and this notice must not be removed, until the discussion is closed. For more information, particularly on merging or moving the article during the discussion, read the Guide to deletion.%5B%5BWikipedia%3AArticles+for+deletion%2FKiss+Trust%5D%5DAF

    I have your back from up north :)

    Reply
  • Jeffrey Trull March 12, 2014, 11:37 am

    You should totally go Oatmeal-style on ’em and turn it into something positive – http://theoatmeal.com/blog/funnyjunk_letter. Not quite the same situation, but it does seem to merit a similar response.

    Reply
  • jlcollinsnh March 12, 2014, 11:38 am

    What a breathtakingly poor PR move.

    Ah well. It is sure to generate more billable hours for Mr Williams.

    Reply
  • Free to Pursue March 12, 2014, 11:39 am

    MMM. Thank you for taking the road less travelled. It takes guts not to simply remove all the information and its implications from your site.

    I admire your conviction and your focus on doing the right thing time and again. Your actions speak even louder than your blog…and that’s quite the feat!

    Reply
  • Fabio Povoa March 12, 2014, 11:42 am

    I usually do not comment but wanted to let you know we have your back.

    I have just sent the link to this blog post to a friend, UC Berkeley Haas MBA grad and previous lawyer, who I hope will share it within UC Berkeley School of Law confines.

    I do hope to have helped your searched for a great lawyer. Let me (us !) know how we can help further.

    Keep up the good work on the blog.

    Fábio

    Reply
  • David March 12, 2014, 11:49 am

    Shall the Mustachians further take to the interwebs by flexing our collective Streisand effect???!!! Twitter, Facebook, YELP, email, major financial or legal blogs (other than this major financial blog of course) presenting the facts about the KISS Trust and practices of Law office of Mark B. Williams, PLC. Time to Tweet/post/google+ and beyond!!! Maybe we can give them both a page rank to remember!!!

    Fight the good fight MMM!!!

    Reply
  • nm_dude March 12, 2014, 12:21 pm

    Just for fun, I went to kisstrust.com just a few minutes ago and they’ve turned of their content, except for a chat box. Wouldn’t go there, but I figured if they were getting free advertising for being a highlighted entity, they’d show their signature products or services. Oh well…..But I did view the page source code, and it hasn’t been pulled, just hidden. 529’s, eh? And fancier products, too. Why would they hide it?

    Anyway, may the headaches be mild.

    Reply
  • James Nakamura March 12, 2014, 12:31 pm

    A few things:
    Perhaps a fellow moustachian might know someone who’d be willing to represent pro-bono. Most litigations end up settling since the lawyer costs get out of hand (along with the time hassle). Pro bono representation can scare others to drop the suit since most of the time it becomes a war of attrition. Also, lots of times this is a scare tactic that wants you to settle (aka free money).
    Get some good consultation and take it from there. I’ve been in this situation and lots of times it’s a lot of smoke and mirrors.

    Reply
  • AnnWilson March 12, 2014, 12:32 pm

    I’m in for contributing to the MMM Legal Defense Fund.

    Reply
  • Ned March 12, 2014, 12:46 pm

    This is a common thing businesses do. They find comments, reviews, etc that they don’t like and have their “lawyers” issue a cease and desist statement hoping the blog/forum/website owner just takes it down to protect themselves for fear of lawsuit. It’s all frivolous, they know it, but it works. Stand your ground, refuse to budge, assert your rights and if they’re dumb enough to actually take it to a real court you’ll win and probably get damages awarded to you for the “pain and suffering” dealing with them has caused.

    Reply
  • AH March 12, 2014, 12:58 pm

    Kudos for not allowing them to bully you. It will be significantly more work to take the honorable route but that is why so many of us admire you.

    Reply
  • Steve March 12, 2014, 2:15 pm

    I have to believe there is standard legal disclaimer language you can post on a page as a link from your forum…and that you COULD consult with a lawyer on the proper language to use. I also have to believe there is some pretty basic insurance you could purchase to protect you from bogus claims, and/or that for a couple of hundred bucks you could create a LLC from which your blog business is run….to provide you a bit of separation.

    Reply
  • biliruben March 12, 2014, 2:18 pm

    Their website appears defunct.

    As does your forum.

    Are you under attack?

    The wiki page is kinda fun though…

    “This article appears to be written like an advertisement. Please help improve it by rewriting promotional content from a neutral point of view and removing any inappropriate external links. (March 2014)
    This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedia’s deletion policy.”

    Reply
  • Den March 12, 2014, 2:18 pm

    I always suspected you would get sued eventually.
    I just thought it would be by the makers of a certain potato based snack for the humourous (mis)use of a moustache similar to the one on their can!
    Thank goodness you don’t wear a bow tie!
    ; {)

    Reply
  • Amber March 12, 2014, 2:24 pm

    Did anyone else notice their website appears to be down? I wonder if it was overloaded by curious Mustachians, ha.

    Reply
  • Felix March 12, 2014, 2:32 pm

    Oh noeeesss! I’m late to the party :-(

    Both the kisstrust website is offline (had no clue who/what they are/were) and so the forums seem to be down.. I’ll blame work.. another reason to retire early ;-)

    Reply
  • homeinboca March 12, 2014, 2:37 pm

    I’m not a lawyer, but hope you get lots of support for this. There are far too many frivolous lawsuits going around – have you ever heard of the Stella Awards, named after Stella Liebeck who spilled hot coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonalds.

    You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Who would ever think one could get burned doing that, right?

    Reply
  • WageSlave March 12, 2014, 2:39 pm

    The forum seems to be down now… is that an error on my side, an untimely glitch, or related to the subject of this post?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

To keep things non-promotional, please use a real name or nickname
(not Blogger @ My Blog Name)

The most useful comments are those written with the goal of learning from or helping out other readers – after reading the whole article and all the earlier comments. Complaints and insults generally won’t make the cut here, but by all means write them on your own blog!

connect

welcome new readers

Take a look around. If you think you are hardcore enough to handle Maximum Mustache, feel free to start at the first article and read your way up to the present using the links at the bottom of each article.

For more casual sampling, have a look at this complete list of all posts since the beginning of time or download the mobile app. Go ahead and click on any titles that intrigue you, and I hope to see you around here more often.

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

latest tweets