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New York Times T'd off at Twitter font mockery

In a sudden burst of enthusiasm for protecting its intellectual property, the New York Times goes after a Twitter account that mocks its intellectual pretentiousness.

But they're busy people, Benjamin. They have meetings with lawyers all the time.
Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It's hard not to love the New York Times. There's so much "there" there that it's like a lover who has so many facets you can't embrace them all at once.

And yet one of those facets is that the Times is sometimes touchy.

Indeed, it has just engineered the blocking of a Twitter account, ostensibly because it doesn't enjoy the idea of the account having an avatar that includes the Times' legendary 't' -- which is something of a trademark.

For some, this might appear to be a storm in a t-cup. After all, this particular avatar was the t wearing what looked like a beret. Or a badly cooked pancake.

Yet for Benjamin Kabak, the brains behind the @NYTOnIt Twitter feed, the Times' sudden miffedness resulted in the annihilation of his very popular musings.

The account, which took the rise out of the Times' lofty attempts to do obivous lifestyle pieces, was disappeared by Twitter after a complaint from the Times.

Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told AllThingsD:

We're not seeking to disable the account, however, it is important to The Times that our copyright is protected and that it is clear to all users of Twitter that parody accounts or other unofficial Times accounts are not affiliated nor endorsed by The Times.

But if the Times wasn't seeking to disable the account, how was it that its complaint disabled the account? Twitter demurred on commentary.

Which left poor Kabak wondering why the obvious never occurred.

As he tweeted not too many moments ago: "Mostly I'm just miffed that NYT couldn't directly contact me. It's dumb." Wait, did he just imply that the New York Times was behaving dumbly? It seems so. It also seems to have worked.

For @NYTOnIt is back up, sans avatar and with a clear statement declaring that it is intended to tickle, rather than miff. On the Times Is On It Facebook page, Kabak announces the return of his Twitter feed, saying:

Twitter has reenabled my account with the threat that if they receive another complaint, it could be subject to "permanent deletion." So in the interest of avoiding that fate, let's open up the floor to a little design contest. I'd love to see some avatar submissions that I could use and not annoy anyone. The winner will get a hat tip on the Twitter feed. (Small beans, I know.) Email entries to timesisonit@gmail.com

And so another victory for free enterprise and another chance for some fine designer to accrue a little fame.

Suggestions are already pouring in, including this from one Darla Atkinson: "A group shot of the founding fathers? ...in handcuffs?"

I wonder whether the Times might now interview Kabak about, um, his coffee drinking habits or perhaps his favorite designer shoe stores.

It would only be fair and balanced, wouldn't it?

It's back, albeit denuded. Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET