Tag Archives: litigation

Bad PR day for The Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research, Inc.

Logo of the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research, Inc.  From its website.
Logo of the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research, Inc. From its website.

CPBR, based in St Simons Island, Georgia, is apparently in the process of registering a copyright on some of my text in “Designing conference posters,” and is in the process of preparing for litigation against me, claiming I infringed on their copyright. I had previously accused them of infringing upon my copyright. I know, sounds like two kids in the back seat, bickering. And, for the record, Mom, they started it.

I thought I’d share a few newsy links with anyone who might be curious in the details. Listed chronologically.

  1. Plagiarism spat over scientific poster prep advice escalates to legal threats” (by Adam Marcus @ Retraction Watch blog)
  2. Adding Insult to Plagiary?” (by Tom Bartlett @ The Chronicle of Higher Education)
  3. Scientist writes funny, helpful guide for making science posters. A big company steals it. Then the company sues him” (tomb123 @ reddit)
  4. Bring Me The Head Of That Threatening Lawyer!” (by Ken at Popehat blog)
  5. Swarthmore Biologist Accused of Plagiarizing…his Own Work” (by Simon van Zuylen-Wood @ The Philly Post)

From tax records (gross receipts in 2010 = $3,314,709), it appears that the CPBR show is run by founder and CEO extraordinaire, Dorin Schumacher. She is, I guess, also in charge of public relations, so I’m sure she’ll be on this, soon. If you’d like to know more about her, she has posted a listing in the Cambridge Who’s Who [thanks Dina Smith for link], where you can read about her amazing accomplishments and also see a photograph of her grandmother in a slinky dress. (I remember getting letters from Cambridge Who’s Who, but I’d always assumed it was a scam. Typically, you have to pay to get yourself listed in these things, and I’m not so easily suckered. Also, once you pay, you have to say flattering things about yourself in the third person, which is really against Colin Purrington’s personality type.)

If you’re interested in even more details of my little drama, here you go:

PDF showing how CPBR plagiarized me (this is the same method of highlighting I’d use when my students at Swarthmore College plagiarized; this is the worst I’ve ever seen)

If you’re curious about anything else, or might have information that would be useful for my defense, please email ASAP. Operators are standing by.

Posted in Biology, Education, Graphic design, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Help me defeat the powerful El Guapo

One of the many great scenes in ¡Three Amigos! is the impassioned speech about rising up against the obstacles that all of us face in life. It’s a speech everyone should commit to memory. I like it so much I have the mp3 on my running playlist (right after Moby’s “Extreme Ways”), and my extended family watches the movie every Christmas eve, per tradition. I also play the clip whenever I lecture on how to confront Creationism in science classrooms (it applies, trust me). The movie clip is below, but if it doesn’t play on your device, here’s the sound clip and text. So watch it, and then continue reading below, where I explain why I need help and why you should give it to me.

My personal El Guapo right now is The Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research (CPBR, to those in the biotech world). If you read my previous post, you know that they have demanded that I permanently delete my 15-page guide to making scientific posters for meetings (“Designing conference posters“), or else face litigation and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and such. This ultimatum was delivered via Certified Mail from Arnold & Porter, a prestigious law firm. This demand came only after I pointed out that CPBR’s “Call for preproposals” contains 2 1/2 pages of text lifted from my website. If you want to see it, there is a version here (though probably not for long). These 2 1/2 pages not only fail to mention that I am the author, they contain “Copyright The Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research, Inc.” at the bottom. So, essentially, they have hired one of the most expensive law firms in the world to bully me into giving them the rights to my intellectual property. Some have argued that anything written about scientific posters is boring and not worthy of copyright, but I have been working on the content since 1997 and I rather like it: I have crafted it be a tad irreverent in the hopes that undergraduates might actually read it. So, naturally, I have absolutely no intention of giving my text to CPBR. And I have no intention of letting them get away with the bullying.

This is where you come in. Or could come in, if you want. My personal El Guapo has a budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and they apparently have every intention of pursuing litigation. So even though they plagiarized from me, they could ultimately get my site taken down if I run out of money before they do, a likely outcome of the litigation. So how can I defeat El Guapo? I can sew! Actually, that’s true (I own two sewing machines), but that’s not going to help me in this situation, regrettably. The only thing I can do is use this darn blog to defeat them. That’s where you come in. What I’d really appreciate is for people with influence to help advertise this situation so that CPBR feels the scrutiny of taxpayers, and, by extension, the scrutiny of politicians who give CPBR its millions in yearly allocations. That’s right: CPBR is using some of those funds to hire expensive lawyers to file fraudulent copyright infringement claims. If you pay taxes on April 15, you should be outraged. So if you can Tweet this post to your followers, my situation might eventually get known by those in D.C. who vote on such distributions of government funds. And if you don’t Tweet or Facebook, but know important people, please consider calling them. And then email me so that I can properly thank you.

Posted in Biology, Education, Graphic design, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment