Goldman Sachs Doesn't Pay Attention: Threatens Gripe Site

from the this-will-end-badly dept

Just as we saw some corporate lawyers (finally!) advising clients not to freak out and go legal when they saw a "gripes site" show up, it appears that Goldman Sachs has done exactly that. The company and its lawyers have apparently been threatening the site GoldmanSachs666.com. The company is pulling out the oldest trick in the book, claiming that Goldman Sachs customers are "confused" by the site:
"Your use of the mark Goldman Sachs violates several of Goldman Sachs' intellectual property rights, constitutes an act of trademark infringement, unfair competition and implies a relationship and misrepresents commercial activity and/or an affiliation between you and Goldman Sachs which does not exist and additionally creates confusion in the marketplace,"
This is a stretch. Many, many courts have found that such sites are perfectly legitimate, because no one would confuse a site complaining about a company for the company itself. It's likely that Goldman Sachs felt that sending the cease-and-desist would scare the blogger into shutting up. But... as with so many of these things, all it's actually done is draw a hell of a lot more attention to the site. You would think that the bank would have a few more important things to be focused on than some ranting blogger. Indeed, the fact that they seem to want him to shut up, gives him a lot more legitimacy than if the bank had simply ignored him. The fact that management or the lawyers (or both) think this is a big enough issue to deal with suggests that they're actually concerned about what he's saying.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 6:19am

    i don't know why lawyers cling to the state action of unfair competition. i don't think i've ever seen it work out successfully in these IP cases.

     

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  2.  
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    Thomo, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 6:21am

    If a legit site provides accurate information, and a gripe-site does not, then wouldn't it cause confusion (presuming that confusion is defined to include being confused about the accuracy or inaccuracy of information)?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 6:48am

    Re:

    Can you rephrase that into a comment that makes sense? Seriously those two lines made my eyes roll around trying to decipher it.

     

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  4.  
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    John Doe, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 7:05am

    Re:

    Oh, it works out successfully; for the lawyers.

     

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  5.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 7:06am

    Re:

    It's hard to tell after the fact, but from a quick look I see the following.

    First, the websites look nothing alike.

    Second, without looking too deep, it's blatantly obvious that the site is a blog and not a main site.

    Third, the website begins with this:

    "This website has NOT been approved by Goldman Sachs, nor does this website have any affiliation with Goldman Sachs. This website was designed to provide information about Goldman Sachs direct from the public, and NOT from Goldman Sachs's marketing and public relations departments. You may find the Goldman Sachs website at www.goldmansachs.com"

    This may have been added recently but I don't know for sure.

    Forth, I don't see the logo, again possibly changed, but I also don't see the logo on the main site (unless it's that blue box).

     

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  6.  
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    Where's my money, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 8:07am

    Oh, they stole it

    Have you read the site they are trying to shut down? Those greed heads at GS got paid coming and going on the AIG bailout. Tens of billions taken from you and presented to them on a golden platter. No wonder they're trying to shut down the whistle blower.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 8:08am

    that takes care of ppl thinking the sites are related

    "This website has NOT been approved by Goldman Sachs, nor does this website have any affiliation with Goldman Sachs. This website was designed to provide information about Goldman Sachs direct from the public, and NOT from Goldman Sachs's marketing and public relations departments. You may find the Goldman Sachs website at www.goldmansachs.com"

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Shawn, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 8:22am

    Re: Oh, they stole it

    "Have you read the site they are trying to shut down? Those greed heads at GS got paid coming and going on the AIG bailout. Tens of billions taken from you and presented to them on a golden platter. No wonder they're trying to shut down the whistle blower."

    I have never understood this complaint? We bailed out AIG so it could pay out its insurence claims and prevent the subsequent domino effect of defaults? So why are we angry when AIG pays Goldman Sachs claims . . . thats exactly what its supposed to do? I dont get the outrage?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 9:26am

    What if they just rename the site to Goldman Sucks?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 10:10am

    Mad Bailout Money

    Ask Cramer during his show. Because he's from GS, he probably has the inside scoop.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Hulser, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 10:24am

    Re:

    If a legit site provides accurate information, and a gripe-site does not

    So, you're making a blanket statement that all gripe sites, by definition, don't provide accurate information? Because that's the only way that your statement makes any sense.

    then wouldn't it cause confusion (presuming that confusion is defined to include being confused about the accuracy or inaccuracy of information)?

    No. Because the confusion in question is in regard to the source of the information, not its accuracy. Anyone is perfectly within their rights to create a blog and post their opinion that GS took illicit advantage of the bailout. What you can't do is post that same opinion and make it look like it came from GS itself. (Which the blog in question went to lengths to not do.)

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 10:25am

    Re:

    Probably already taken.

     

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  13.  
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    Michael B, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 10:32am

    Simple Solution

    Change the site to GoldmanSux.com; no confusion there! Goldman Sachs will discover that truth hurts.

     

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  14.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Apr 13th, 2009 @ 10:40am

    Or you go for the obvious website.

    ThisIsNotGoldmanSachs.com

     

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  15.  
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    ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 11:17am

    Cha Ching!

    EXACTLY. What GoldSac doesn't realize is who their *real* enemy is...

    In reality, the "Blogger" is a plant, who gets a kickback from the lawyers, designed to give the law firm an excuse for billable hours.

    Perfect exploitation of "Problem-Reaction-Solution"

    Cha Ching!

     

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  16.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Apr 13th, 2009 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Cha Ching!

    That is such a twisted idea that it has to be true. You must be or have been a lawyer. But a very good idea if you can keep it secret. Especially since in you were a plant then the law firm could feed you just enough info to keep Goldman scared.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Jason, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 1:32pm

    Re:

    Your presumption is wrong. The only confusion at issue here under the law is trademark confustion, i.e. whether or not the site IS, is owned by, or is affiliated with the Goldman Sachs brand. If people thought they were actually on a Goldman Sachs website, then GS would have a case.

    Obviously, in this case, they do not.

     

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  18.  
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    Jason, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Re:

    Based on a quick search of Google cache, the disclaimer seems to have been there at least at the beginning of the day.

     

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  19.  
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    Hank Paulson, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 3:58pm

    I don't understand the outrage

    GS had hedged that its contracts with AIG would default, got paid on that bet, and then we bailed out AIG which then paid GS on the failed contracts they had already been paid on.

    We also bailed out GS with TARP1.

     

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  20.  
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    Dan, Apr 13th, 2009 @ 11:21pm

    And of course GS never confused any of their customers on say derivatives or other snake oil products. Now the truth is confusing?

     

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  21.  
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    known coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 6:42am

    This moron in a hurry . . .

    Can tell that the site is not from goldman sacks (unlike the MTA girls site, which used MTA emblems and color scheme for their site).

    The use of the GS trademark is correct here as it identifies GS, eliminates confusion, and helps us understand who he is talking about.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 7:03am

    Re: I don't understand the outrage

    "GS had hedged that its contracts with AIG would default, got paid on that bet, and then we bailed out AIG which then paid GS on the failed contracts they had already been paid "

    It sounds like people are angry about how many ways you can make money on wall street (and how good GS seems to be at it), I still dont get the outrage against Goldman Sachs regaurding AIG paying the very claims that we bailed them out to pay? Frankly they had alot more blood on thier hands regarding the Enron fraud then they do here really (they have behaved no MORE sleezy then anyone else who has worked on wall street over the last decade)?

     

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  23.  
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    billyshaw, May 13th, 2009 @ 4:59pm

    bollocks

    FU

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2009 @ 9:37am

    Without addressing the merits of this particular matter, it is not in the least surprising that a company might seriously, and quite properly, consider the filing of a lawsuit under circumstances such as this. Of course, whether or not such a lawsuit should be filed is highly fact dependent and ultimately a decision to be made by company management and not its legal counsel.

     

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


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