If you're not familiar with Swordgate, it was the debacle that ensued after Hutton Pulitzer made the public claim that a "100% confirmed" Roman sword had been recovered from a shipwreck off of Oak Island. That was in December of 2015. Over the course of the next several months, I and many others gathered a large body of evidence that conclusively showed that his claims about the sword were nonsense. Independent analysis of the sword by the television program The Curse of Oak Island reached the same conclusion. A lot of bad behavior on Pulitzer's part followed.
I hadn't really thought much about the sword story or Pulitzer's activities over the last couple of years until he emailed me in October of 2019 demanding that I remove use of his name ("Jovan Hutton Pulitzer") from all my content. In his communication, he asserted that he had trademarked his name and that my use of it violated his rights. He threatened to have my material taken down if I did not comply with his request voluntarily. He CC'd this communication to various departments and individuals at the University of South Carolina (my employer).
Following that communication, I consulted with an attorney specializing in intellectual property law. His conclusion was that Pulitzer's threats were baseless. I chose to not respond.
Pulitzer followed up his October communication in November with a document that he sent to various individuals at the University of South Carolina and elsewhere. That document contained numerous untrue statements about me and was apparently sent in an effort to damage my reputation. His letter was clearly defamatory, and I am currently exploring my legal options for addressing that aspect of his behavior.
Following his November communication, my attorney sent a letter in December to Pulitzer's attorney (Steve Green) informing his that his claims of trademark infringement are baseless (indeed, Pulitzer has only applied for -- not received -- trademark status for his name) and that I would defend myself and my reputation against his claims.
Steve Green responded with a letter dated December 18, 2019, alleging that I have participated in a "well-planned Civil Collusion" to cause harm to Pulitzer. Green also argued that Pulitzer's communications to USC could not constitute tortious interference because he followed the proper procedures for filing a complaint about a state employee. The letter asked for nothing specifically other than to have a phone call to discuss the matter.
I indicated to Steve Green that I would be willing to discuss the matter, but that I preferred to do it writing (i.e., via email) rather than over the phone. My reasons for this were several: (1) Pulitzer/Green have not demonstrated to me that they are willing to have a discussion based on verifiable facts -- every substantive communication so far from them has contained inaccurate information; (2) Pulitzer has demonstrated (and bragged about) his penchant for recording conversations and then trying to use them for his benefit; and (3) I remain confused about their claimed legal basis to compel me to remove or edit anything. And so that's how the current conversation started.
First (1/13/2020), Green wrote that what they wanted was removal of an unspecified "libelous article" that they said presented as fact that Pulitzer had engaged in crimes. Along with that, they also wanted me change the URLs of my blog posts so that Pulitzer's name wasn't in them.
In response, I wrote this on 1/13/2020:
As a starting point, please provide me with a list of my blog posts which you are referring to. I have never, to the best of my knowledge, written anything about Pulitzer that is untrue. So as a preface to any discussion I would like to know, specifically, exactly what you allege is "libelous."
Steve Green responded (1/13/2020) that I should, basically, remove Pulitzer's name on all sites I own or operate. So, rather than providing specific posts/statements that they allege contain inaccurate information, they simply assert that I should take down everything with his name in it.
Here is my response (1/13/2020):
I admit that I am now confused, as we seem to be right back where we started when Pulitzer first contacted me last fall claiming trademark/copyright violation. As my attorney communicated to you in his letter, Pulitzer's trademark/copyright claims are baseless.
When I did not respond to Pulitzer's trademark/copyright claims, he sent a defamatory letter to my employer, again demanding that I take everything down with his name in it. That letter contained numerous false statements. I am sure that the procedures for filing a complaint to the University of South Carolina do not include making false statements about an employee.
Then, you sent a letter alleging that I was involved in some kind of conspiracy and that you wanted to talk to me on the phone. I responded that I would rather have the discussion in writing, and this email exchange we are having demonstrates why: you first said that you wanted removed the "huge libelous article presenting as fact that my client engaged in crimes of the nature such covert/secret nude recordings, or pillaging artifacts and such" and when I asked for clarification which "article" that was, you reverted back to ""remove all posts with J. Hutton Pulitzer in it."
If there are specific posts with inaccurate information, as you allege, I would be happy to discuss them. In order to do that, however, you have to tell me which posts you are referring to and which parts of those posts are inaccurate. There is really no other way to have a discussion about your allegations. You have claimed that I have knowingly made false statements about your client. I have not. If you really disagree, please tell me which statements are false.
I have no plans to take down any material based on Pulitzer's allegations of trademark/copyright infringement, which are baseless.
And to be absolutely clear: I did not create the "Critical Thinking" channel on YouTube, I did not create any of the content on that channel, and I do not control that channel. Is it not my content to take down.
It's worth taking a second to highlight this aspect of what's going on here. Jason Colavito and I both wrote posts about Pulitzer's piece, which came out on February 2, 2016. The fact that we both wrote about it on February 3 is, apparently, his evidence of "Civil Collusion" (as if all the newspapers writing reviews of the same bad movie on the day after it comes out are all colluding). The fact that Pulitzer has since deleted the original post doesn't change the fact that he wrote the post and it remains part of the Swordgate story. I directly quoted Pulitzer's words in my post about it, as did Jason in his. As far as I know, my post contains no inaccuracies: it was accurate then and it's accurate now. I provided Green with a screenshot from Pulitzer's original post just in case Pulitzer had forgotten what he wrote.
In my last communication to Green (1/16/2020) I again asked for: (1) clarification of which statements of mine they deem to be be untrue; (2) evidence that I control the YouTube channel that they allege I control (and that they allege has been used by me to defame Pulitzer); (3) clarification of all communications by Pulitzer to third parties about this matter.
That's where things stand now. I have removed one link to a dead article and changed the title of one link to reflect a change of the original title. That is all I have changed and that is all I intend to change unless someone can articulate a legal basis for understanding my position differently.