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Howard Tayler told cease and desist for 7 habits parody

Schlock Mercenary creator Howard Tayler received a cease and desist letter from Franklin Covey telling him he’s infringed on their 7 habits trademark (made popular by Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”). Howard has a long running parody called “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates,” which Franklin Covey felt infringed on their trademark. Howard voluntarily opted to revisit his archives and rework those comics and relabel them “The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries.”

This brings us to the retcon. It is large. That one book we keep mentioning with bits in it like ‘If you’re leaving scorch-marks you need a bigger gun’ is now called The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries. What used to be called “rules” are now called “maxims.” I wasn’t legally obligated to make that additional change, but it has the added effect of reducing confusion between Maxim 34 (which concerns scorch marks) and Rule 34 of The Internet (which posits that if a thing exists, a decidedly ‘nographous fetish site will exist for it online.)

In truth, I’m grateful for the excuse to dive into the archives and change this stuff. The original joke was kind of lazy, and didn’t lend itself well (read: “legally”) to merchandising. My edits are done now, and any leftover septangles in nun-hats are the result of a cached image somewhere.

Community Comments

#1 Scott Metzger
January/27/2011
@ 9:50 am

“The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries? – that’s a clever solution. Nice.

#2 Howard Tayler
January/27/2011
@ 10:25 am

Truth be told, in a perfect world I’d have gone the Seventy Maxims route straight out of the gate. I never lampooned Covey’s original 7 Habits text directly, and the new title is still recognizable as a send-up.

So I guess when presented with a really good excuse for a retcon I’ll go ahead and take it.

Of course, in a TRULY perfect world it would not be possible for a large corporation to pressure the small business over a matter that is clearly parody, but taking Covey to court is outside my area of expertise, and WELL outside my budget. Also, it won’t get Trademark law changed, which is what we’d need to have happen.

#3 Mike Cope
January/27/2011
@ 10:40 am

Isn’t “Seventy Maxims” that magazine with scantily clad seniors? … ;)

Interesting story, Howard. Thanks for sharing.

#4 Matt Bors
January/27/2011
@ 10:55 am

I guess one of the effective habits is being a prick.

Parody is perfectly legal and no one would reasonably believe the Schlock Mercenary pirates are part of Covey’s enterprise.

He’s a millionaire bullying people who aren’t harming him. When people bully others with lawsuits that are frivolous you can challenge them, have it thrown out, and counter sue them. It’s highly effective.

#5 Fanbert
January/27/2011
@ 10:57 am

http://www.amazon.com/Dilbert-Seven-Highly-Defective-People/dp/0836236688/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_1

#6 steve skelton
January/27/2011
@ 11:40 am

Wow. This guy is a complete moron. What did he do? Google his book to find out who might be referencing his almightyness?

#7 Howard Tayler
January/27/2011
@ 12:19 pm

Franklin Covey isn’t a “guy.” It’s a corporation that is leveraging a number of intellectual properties, including Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits” book as part of their overall business.

But yes, I suspect that there is a moron somewhere on staff. :-)

#8 steve skelton
January/27/2011
@ 12:26 pm

leveraging intellectual properties……against what? What are they leveraging against? Geeze, your reference to the book might actually sell more books. It certainly didn’t keep anyone from buying a book. What a bunch a sissies.

#9 Keith Brown
January/27/2011
@ 12:43 pm

They would have been smarter had they embraced the parody and maybe had his site link to their book.

#10 Rich Diesslin
January/27/2011
@ 12:49 pm

Your books are probably selling more than theirs these days. ;)

#11 Donna Lewis
January/27/2011
@ 4:44 pm

Shouldn’t there be 8 or 9 habits by now?

#12 Sean Martin
April/8/2011
@ 7:12 am

FC should be delighted that someone’s giving them a little free publicity. Isnt that one of the seven habits anyway?

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