Tony La Russa Sues Twitter Over Fake Profile

from the let's-try-this-again... dept

Video Savant has sent in the news that St. Louis Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa is suing Twitter, claiming that the company is guilty of trademark infringement, cybersquatting and misappropriation of likeness and name, because someone set up a fake Tony La Russa profile. He claims that he tried to contact the service and was unable to get them to take down the fake profile (which seems odd, since the company has apparently been pretty good about taking down fake accounts upon request). However, when he was unable to do that, he filed the lawsuit. Either way, it's difficult to see the lawsuit going very far. While (tragically) there is no section 230 or DMCA-type safe harbors for trademark, common sense should make it clear that it's not Twitter that's the liable party here (if there's any liability), but whoever created the account. Even then, it's difficult to see this getting very far. The use wasn't "in commerce" which should preclude most trademark claims, and the nature of the fake La Russa tweets suggests that anyone who read them would likely realize that it was a parody of the real La Russa. Still, there was a similar issue recently with Kanye West getting angry over fake users on Twitter -- but it hardly seems like something worth suing about. If the person is so famous, then it's not hard for them to (as West did) point out that the profile is fake, and it shouldn't much matter any more.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Tgeigs (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 2:56pm

    Huh

    You'd really think Tony would be too busy figuring out what tree trunk he drunkenly drove his car into or slamming HGH and Andro needles into his players to be filing lawsuits...

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 3:08pm

    La Russa, meet the Streisand Effect.

    Streisand Effect, meet Tony La Russa.

    You two play nice, now.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 3:39pm

    "because someone set up a fake Tony La Russa profile."

    How do I know Tony La Russa didn't set that account up himself just so he can sue?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 4:09pm

    the real problem with fake accounts for the average joe is when you go for your next job and your employer scans social networking sites about you... you might miss out without even knowing why.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    interval, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 4:23pm

    Re:

    @Anonymous Coward: "the real problem with fake accounts..."

    You're right. Ban the internet now! Btw, I'm suing you, Anonymous Coward, for trademark infringement, inciting riots, pandering, loitering, advocating communism, patent infringement, and vandalism.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 4:31pm

    Re:

    "the real problem with fake accounts for the average joe is when you go for your next job and your employer scans social networking sites about you... you might miss out without even knowing why."



    I agree and there should be a site where I can search about me everywhere and then require an injunction wherever my name appears on the internet without my authorization.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 4:32pm

    Re:

    (that is, as someone pretending to be me).

     

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  8.  
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    Zaven (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 4:34pm

    There's No Crying In Baseball

    La Rusa should listen to Tom Hanks. There's no crying in baseball.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 4:34pm

    If twitter is unable to identify who created the fake account, it isn't a big jump to assume that someone within Twitter created the account.

    Quite simply, Twitter needs to do a better job of knowing WHO is responsible for the accounts.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 4:42pm

    Re:

    "If twitter is unable to identify who created the fake account, it isn't a big jump to assume that someone within Twitter created the account."

    I find that unlikely, it's highly unlikely someone within twitter would have a motive to create a fake account about someone else. It's possible but it's also possible other people created it. How would twitter know, people can use proxies to change their hostmask and such (or they can use TOR). There are ways of hiding ones identity.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 4:55pm

    Re: Re:

    Why not? Let's say you are working at Twitter, and as a joke, someone says "what would a profile look like coming from a baseball coach?" The posts would be all like "we played good game @ end we lost too bad"?

    There is no reason to specifically exclude Twitter or a rogue Twitter employee- if they can't say WHO did it, then it would be who own the domain, right?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 5:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "if they can't say WHO did it, then it would be who own the domain, right?"

    You mean people should be guilty until proven innocent?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 5:14pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    So if I go to a crowded mall and someone steals my wallet without me knowing, do I sue the mall? It might have been an employee, perhaps one of those security guards, but it also could have been (and is most likely) one of the non employees in the crowd. It could have been anyone, you can't hold the mall guilty until proven innocent.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 5:36pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Why not?"

    Why couldn't have been Tony La Russa himself, just so he can have an excuse to sue? If there is money in it for him, that's a good motive (certainly much better than your, "someone at twitter thought it was funny" motive). The most someone should be able to sue twitter for is an injunction (and perhaps, if it's not unreasonable for twitter to keep logs, a request of the IP addresses/Hostmasks and times that the person created the account and logged in).

     

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  15.  
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    niTwit, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 5:43pm

    All that twitter is liable for is having the most gay name and verb ever. Hi guys, I'm tweeting :) (:

     

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  16.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 7:25pm

    Re:

    "If twitter is unable to identify who created the fake account, it isn't a big jump to assume that someone within Twitter created the account.

    "Quite simply, Twitter needs to do a better job of knowing WHO is responsible for the accounts."

    They require an email address to associate with the account. That's it, and all there needs to be.

    Does Tony have a trademark on his name? Is there anyone else on the planet with the same name? Do THEY have a trademark? Is this account being used for commerce? In TLR(tm)'s business? Is it Parody? Way too many variables. Not their gorram problem.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 7:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Umm, no. It means that if the Twitterites can't point at a user / IP / email / name combination to say who owns the account, the assumption is that the account is owned by Twitter itself.

    The "rogue internet user" is turning into the "two black youths" of the 21st century.

     

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  18.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 8:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Umm, no. It means that if the Twitterites can't point at a user / IP / email / name combination to say who owns the account, the assumption is that the account is owned by Twitter itself.


    This is simply not true. The law says it's not true, and there is not a single case on record that says that.

    Please. Do not make up stuff.

     

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  19.  
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    Andrea, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 2:45am

    Honestly...

    Honestly, people should already know that not all users of these service use their real name. What I mean is, anybody can use somebody's name. They could be a fan or a hater. We should accept that. I'm just wondering now, how do Twitter follow the one who made that account.
    Watch House

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 4:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Dig deeper Mike. You haven't been at this long enough.

     

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  21.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jun 4th, 2009 @ 5:52am

    La Russa

    I guess he isn't as intelligent as a moron in a hurry eh?

     

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  22.  
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    Tony La Russa, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 6:49am

    Wha...???!!!

    WHO is this? WHO?? Call my lawyer!!! I'll have you techdirt!!

     

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

  23.  
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    Tgeigs (profile), Jun 4th, 2009 @ 7:06am

    Re: Wha...???!!!

    Tony! Look out for that tree when you're blogging, drinking, and driving all at once!!!!

     

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

  24.  
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    Jojo Biggs, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 12:18pm

    How would you know?

    He claims that he tried to contact the service and was unable to get them to take down the fake profile (which seems odd, since the company has apparently been pretty good about taking down fake accounts upon request).
    ====================================================

    Seems odd? How would you know? Work there? Twitter is only 45 employees, makes ZERO money in profit, only has investor money and has to monitor millions of infringers everyday. You know what's odd? When Twitter collapses and requires to charge every text message a dime to a dollar. You'll be cursing and will leave immediately.

    What's odd is Mike Masnick, coming across like a new Mickey Mouse character, but has his head up his bar exam butt. That's what's odd. COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS A FELONY and the case is Playboy Enterprises Inc. v. Frena. Look it up, while you still have eyes and a brain that works, fool.

     

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  25.  
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    Yeebok (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 2:52am

    Wha ?

    How on earth is that relevant or accurate Jojo ?

    As for fake profiles - so what ? Make your own and denounce the other .. problem solved really. I'd be more likely to assume it's a 'genuine fake' rather than an employee or the whiner.
    I think some people just love lawsuits, sadly.

     

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  26.  
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    Derick Schaefer, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 11:59am

    La Russa Suit Doesn't Stand A Chance

    What La Russa's attorney's haven't advised him on is The Telecommunications Act of 1996. He's dead in the water. At least Twitter had the decency to pull the page off as they really didn't have to. I applaud that. I wrote a detailed post about this at http://www.orangecaster.com/social-media/2009/06/generational-equity-a-scam-or-black-hat-social-medi a-victim/

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    A, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re:

    "the real problem with fake accounts for the average joe is when you go for your next job and your employer scans social networking sites about you... you might miss out without even knowing why."

    This has happened to me. It's sad that law makers are sleeping while people's lives are being destroyed.

     

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


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