These days it seems that corporate lawyers a pretty damn quick about pulling out their trusted "cease-and-desist" letters for just about anything - even if no laws have actually been violated. Wired News has two such stories this morning. First, comes the news that Miramax is upset about a site that reviews Kung Fu movies. They accuse him of selling a movie that they own the rights to. The movie was originally released in Asia in 2002, but will come to the US next year. The problem is that the guy who runs the site doesn't sell any movies. He does link to a site that does sell movies, but that site stopped selling the movie in question once Miramax obtained the rights to it. No matter to Miramax. When confronted with this info, they defended the action, saying that they needed to make "it more difficult for people to purchase these films." That may be what the lawyers think, but it might not make the most business sense. First of all, the type of people who will go out of their way to buy such a movie from a foreign distributor are clearly big fans, and are the most likely people to go out and see the movie on the big screen when it's released here. Now, all Miramax has done is piss off the biggest fans of the movie they're about to release. Second, there's nothing illegal about linking to a perfectly legal site. Miramax is simply using their lawyers to bully someone who has done nothing wrong (and, in fact, who is trying to help publicize their movies). What Miramax considers "protecting their intellectual property" certainly appears to be shooting themselves in the foot from this angle. Meanwhile, the US Olympic Committee is hitting back against anyone who dares to use the word "Olympics" to describe some sort of competition. Again, this is going past the basic purpose of trademark law - which is to make sure consumers of a product (or event) aren't confused to believe it's from another company (or organization). In this case, the folks behind the "robolympics" think it's fairly unlikely that anyone is going to confuse their event with the international athletic competitions held every few years. In fact, they point out that the Olympic trademark only covers athletic events - and since their event involves robots, it's not an athletic event.
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