Using Trademark Law To Stop Free Speech

from the first,-we-shoot-all-the... dept

The folks over at Public Citizen Litigation Group continue to fight the good fight against corporations and lawyers who are clearly misusing trademark law to bully individuals or organizations they don't like. This is the same group who we recently covered supporting a woman who dared to sell the shampoo bottle on eBay that she had legally bought, and the law firm who was accused of trademark infringement by a railway company for having paintings of various trains (which they commissioned) shown on their website. In that case, it was clearly not a trademark violation at all (you can use trademarks in art), but one where the railway firm was upset that the law firm helped in cases involving injured railway employees. It seems that same sort of thinking is at work in the latest legal issue Public Citizen is involved in. It revolves around an environmental group that created an effigy of the governor of Texas kissing a smokestack. On the smokestack were the logos of various firms accused of polluting. It's pretty clear protest speech, and hardly a violation of trademark, but don't try explaining that to the lawyers who sent the nastygram to the group. When Public Citizen's Paul Alan Levy sent a letter to the company's lawyer, re-explaining the basics of trademark law (especially the part about how it's perfectly legal to use a company's logo in criticizing that company), the lawyer simply responded to Levy by saying he "looked forward to meeting [him] personally." Why let something like the actual law get in the way of intimidation tactics?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    David, Oct 25th, 2006 @ 12:05pm

    Law? What law?

    The law belongs to the side with the most persuasive lawyer

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Dave, Oct 25th, 2006 @ 12:14pm

    Wow!

    A texas lawyer who threatens physical violence for his clients. Anyone haave hos number ;-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Oct 25th, 2006 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Law? What law?

    I thought the law went to the highest bidder. The only reason we havent seen anyone selling, "Rare!!! The Law!!!! Super Rare Item!!!!!" on ebay is that the law makers havent gotten quite that brazen...yet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Insaniak, Oct 25th, 2006 @ 12:39pm

    the law...

    the law is used by people who see it in black and white and defended by those who see it in grey

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    steve, Oct 25th, 2006 @ 1:11pm

    Law

    The US has the best legal system money can buy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    DigitalBomb, Oct 25th, 2006 @ 2:48pm

    Yes, thank all of you commenters for your wonderful ad hominems.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Fernando, Oct 25th, 2006 @ 3:51pm

    DigitalBomb needs a dictionary. An ad hominem attack is an attack on a particular person.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    TrippinLikeGod, Oct 25th, 2006 @ 6:56pm

    seriously

    Yeah Ad Hominem is saying "It doesn't matter that you said the sky is blue because you're a moron!", it's an attempt to discredit a statement by razing the person who made it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Dosquatch, Oct 26th, 2006 @ 5:04am

    Re: seriously

    Maybe he's anthropomorphizing our legal system?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Neal, Oct 26th, 2006 @ 5:58am

    I don't get it

    You know, I don't see why the courts don't stomp on these lawyers. If a lawyer has had more than a couple trademark law cases then he/she knows the boundaries of trademarks and only a rare edge case is non-obvious. Attorneys should be held liable for fees and damages when they threaten or engage in litigation that someone fresh out of lawschool would see as rediculous.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Oct 26th, 2006 @ 9:00am

    Re: Law? What law?

    The law belongs to the side with the most persuasive lawyer

    i think you misspelled expensive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2006 @ 1:10am

    How dare you contradict me! Ill slap you silly???

    So, when did 5 year olds start being able to pass the bar?
    Vague threats like that are.. are... I'm at a loss for words, even most children are not that lame.

    Perhaps the correct answer would be
    "Yes, lets meet at the review board, then thy can sort you out properly as it's obvious that you have no business being a lawyer."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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