Samara O'Shea

A friend of mine e-mailed me a week or so ago in panic mode. He wrote, “You need to call a lawyer regarding the movie Her. They are using your letter-writing site idea!” Two things happened when I read the message:

1. I appreciated his concern but didn’t think lawyering up–especially against a movie studio–was within my right or resources.
2. I was excited to know that there’s a professional letter-writer in a popular movie.

The reason I didn’t think it was within my right is because “letter writer” isn’t an original profession. They’re not common anymore, but they have existed for ages. I also don’t doubt that other people have at least thought about creating letter-writing websites on their own–without hearing about mine. It’s an idea who’s originality would be difficult to prove.

Shortly thereafter, another friend got in touch to tell me about Her. He happens to be a lawyer and I asked him to break down if I had a case or not. He said:

“The mere providing of a letter writing service is not something that can be patented, trademarked or copyrighted. It is, pardon the comparison, like being an accountant or a technical writer. Now the contents of the letters, the name of your service and your trade dress and trademarks can be protected, but not the idea of writing letters on behalf of individuals.”

Seems pretty cut and dry.

In his review of Her, Philadelphia Inquire movie critic Steven Rea said the idea of an online letter-writing service is one “whose time has come.” I tweeted him to let him know I had been all over it for years. No word back.

As you may have noticed, this site has been updated and the letter-writing service is now gone. Although there’s still a page paying tribute to my one-time service and letter writing itself. I am and always will be glad that I acted on my instinct and brought my silly idea to life. I hope others–whether inspired by me or Her–see fit to do the same!