What's in a name? Tamarac HOA to resident: Back off

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Lisa J. Huriash

Published April 22, 2013


An attorney for the law firm Becker & Poliakoff sent Sharon Aron Baron a letter this week, ordering her to shut down the website by May 12. The letter says the domain name, and some of the information within the site such as real estate listings, imply the site is affiliated with the homeowners association.

"This site is tarnishing the distinctive quality of the association's trade name and injuring its reputation," wrote attorney Michael De Biase.

Baron, an activist who is one of two organizers leading a recall drive to oust a city commissioner who also lives in the Woodlands, said she isn't closing her site at http://www.thewoodlandstamarac.com and instead will hire her own lawyer. She said she has almost 600 subscribers.

She's also known citywide and in Coral Springs because she runs websites and e-newsletters called "Tamarac Talk" and "Coral Springs Talk." 

"There is something else going on," she said. "The board is extremely jealous of my website because everybody reads my website and they have an official Woodlands website that nobody reads and has no information. It gets all the attention because it has all the news."

Homeowners Association President Patti Fox referred questions to the association's attorney.

The association's official site, http://www.thewoodlandsfl.com, includes information homes for sale and rent. "There's really nothing there," Baron argues. "It's not maintained."

Baron has run her site since 2010. She has written about the recall drive, coyotes in the neighborhood, her run-in with the Association when it didn't want her daughter to have a Girl Scout cookie stand, and posts when people have lost dogs.

She argues that a real estate company runs the site http://www.woodlandstamarac.com without any problems. 

De Biase said Thursday no decision has been made yet about pursuing the real estate company: "We have discussed it in the past but have not come to a definitive conclusion whether to send a cease and desist letter. [We] are assessing it."

And, Baron argues she's clear about who she is, posting on the homepage: "This website is a resident run website and is not affiliated with the Woodlands HOA or Management Company. Please help support it by subscribing today."

But in his letter, De Biase wrote that her disclaimers are hard to find.

"The fact that these disclaimers are somewhat hidden indicates that your intention is to deceive the consuming public, rather than effectuate notice," he wrote.

Baron said she's not backing down. "They are jealous," she said. "It's a power thing. That's why they are looking for anything they can do to get me out."

Said De Biase: "I'm not sure what the impetus [of the potential lawsuit] has been, but it's not petty or personal. They want to preserve their intellectual property rights."