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Canadian Political Party Threatens Widow For Using Its Logo In Ad Criticizing Canadian Government

from the how-do-you-spell-streisand-in-canadian dept

Canadian Michaela Keyserlingk lost her husband Robert to mesothelioma in 2009. That's the form of cancer commonly associated with exposure to asbestos. Not surprisingly, she's not particularly happy about asbestos, and she's taken to running online banner ads against asbestos as part of her response. The ads say: "Canada is the only western country that still exports deadly asbestos." And, here's the tricky part: it apparently includes the logo of the (ruling) Conservative Party in Canada. As Rob Hyndman alerts us, the Conservative Party is not at all happy. In fact, it's threatening to sue her for trademark infringement. The Globe & Mail story linked here doesn't do anything useful like show the actual banner, so we've hunted it down, and you can see it below:
That's the party's logo on the right, of course. You can see why the party might be upset, but damn, was it ever a braindead move to threaten a poor old widow for trademark infringement over something like this. As even the woman notes, she doesn't have much money. Threatening and/or suing her doesn't do a damn thing... other than give her campaign a ton of free attention.


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  1.  
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    crade (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 1:33pm

    It definately does make it look like it's a statement from the conservative party. Assuming they gave her the chance to remove it before actually suing, and she told them to shove it, I'd side with the conservatives on this one (must be a chilly day in hell today).

     

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  2.  
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    Donnicton, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:03pm

    Every view of the Streisand effect taking hold is like watching a train wreck happen in slow motion. There's a certain Hypnotic charm about it every time it happens.

     

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  3.  
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    Jeff Brown, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:09pm

    From the looks of the logo......

    I'd side with the Conservatives too on this. The way this is used my initial thoughts were that it was an ad sponsored by them...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:21pm

    Threatening and/or suing her doesn't do a damn thing... other than give her campaign a ton of free attention.

    It'll probably get her to stop using their mark, which is the whole point. Funny how you don't acknowledge that.

     

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    jjmsan (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:24pm

    Not the point

    The point is not whether or not the Conservative Party has a case; the point is most people would not know that Canada exports Asbestos or have associated the party with the export. So now more people know and will generally think that the party supports the export otherwise why would they sue?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:24pm

    Jon Stewart on the Subject

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:33pm

    Seems like clear cut infringement to me no matter how sympathetic her circumstances are.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:34pm

    Re: From the looks of the logo......

    Right. The trademark claim is probably valid. Mike had to FUD this out somehow, so he went with the "Streisand Effect" argument. More pointless dribble and mindless IP bashing from techsnore.

     

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    David Liu (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:38pm

    Honestly though, assuming that the Canadian Political Party doesn't support or care about asbestos exports, I'm pretty sure that they don't care if the lawsuit brings more attention to her cause. And, if the CPP is actually against asbestos exports, then it's mostly a win-win situation: the CPP gets the logo removed and the lady gets more attention for her cause.

     

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  10.  
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    Another AC, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:40pm

    Re:

    So you condone suing her for every penny she owns, effectively destroying her life? Gotcha.

     

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    Another AC, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:41pm

    Re:

    Simply asking has the same effect, without the problems. Funny how you don't acknowledge that.

     

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  12.  
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    AMadMan, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Re: From the looks of the logo......

    Seriously? If you are that bored (or threatened) by Mike's blog - why are you still here?? Are you so completely boneheaded and stupid that you can't see the address bar on your browser? What an angry life you must have that leads you to spew your bile all over the place. You don't *have* to come here if it upsets you... you can go to other interwebs... I've heard that www.seasamestreet.com is wonderful!

     

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    Di Fiasco (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:41pm

    A died-in-the-wool Tory will rob his Granny...or yours.

     

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    anonymous, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:48pm

    and yet again, trademark is so much more important than people knowing the truth ie that this ruling party does nothing to stop the export of such a dangerous, cancer inducing substance. rather, it seems to condone it. 'we know how dangerous it is so we have to get rid of it. where it goes to, we dont care!'

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:50pm

    Re:

    It could seem that way. It was definitely clumsy construction on her part and could mislead the moron in a hurry
    because it could seem that the canadian conservative party is part of a campaign against the asbestos industry. They aren't, they are all bar two fully supportive of it.

    Most people would think of them favourably if they were misled by the graphic, it is nice of them to draw peoples attention to the fact that they are not actually opposed to it and therefore gain unfavourable attention.

     

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    Gary (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:50pm

    Will they sue the inevitable thousands of people who during election campaigns will use their logo to either campaign for or against them. Also if they are the current ruling party they are currently the people who are letting it happen whether it was a previous government that agreed the export licences or not.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re:

    Yes. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:51pm

    Re:

    "A died-in-the-wool Tory will rob his Granny...or yours."

    Surely you meant "and" rather than "or".

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 2:52pm

    Re:

    We export it to countries that we are at war with. Kill the brown folks overseas!

     

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 3:08pm

    No kidding

    The Globe & Mail story linked here doesn't do anything useful like show the actual banner...

    Well, can you blame them?

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Re:

    Simply asking has the same effect, without the problems. Funny how you don't acknowledge that.

    They are asking her. They sent her an email asking her to stop, and they if she doesn't, it "may result in further action." Mike is pointing out the "Streisand Effect." Of course, there is no analysis of how great that effect would be compared to the harm if she continues to use their mark. They analyzed the situation and decided that sending an email was the best course of action. Mike is implying that it's not, but of course, there is no actual analysis or argument to back it up. Typical nonsense from techdirt. He saw a trademark story and felt the need to FUD it out. Snore.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: From the looks of the logo......

    I'm pointing out why I think the post is senseless and silly. That's called "expressing my opinion." Sorry if you don't like it.

     

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  23.  
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    Richard (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Can't believe anyone would actually say that!

    Wow, just wow!

     

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  24.  
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    Richard (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: From the looks of the logo......

    I hope you're advising political parties I dislike then.

    This kind of stupidity can lose you an election - just ask Gordon Brown.

     

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  25.  
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    crade (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: From the looks of the logo......

    It can be a valid trademark claim and also cause from streisand effect as well. For instance, I would never had heard of this and learned that the conservatives supporting the aspestos export if not for them making the trademark claim, now I do.

    Even if there wasn't, it would just be wrong, what is so FUD about it? Oooh, he thinks there could be a streisand effect when there might not be, so what?

     

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  26.  
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    CommonSense, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 3:21pm

    Re:

    It might....but not until everyone who cares about the campaign, and half the world who doesn't, gets to see it as it was with the logo, and probably will never go back to find one without... so yeah, I guess it's a good job, but it's a good job that no one will see or care about...

     

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  27.  
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    ANoiXioNA (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 3:30pm

    Re:

    Surely you can see this as "fair use" ?
    Even Parody or satire ?

     

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  28.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 3:31pm

    Re:

    It'll probably get her to stop using their mark, which is the whole point.

    Actually, that's not the point. First, she's said she won't stop using the mark, so you're wrong. Second, the "whole point" is that no one was paying attention to this until the party made a big deal out of it. So you're wrong.

     

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  29.  
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    ANoiXioNA (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 3:37pm

    Re:

    Sorry...no edit

    What about when BP had that Oil Spill....

    The News had a picture of the BP logo , with words about and images of the disaster.


    So should BP be allowed to sue the news networks for trademark infringement ?

     

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  30.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 3:42pm

    Re: Re: From the looks of the logo......

    Right. The trademark claim is probably valid. Mike had to FUD this out somehow, so he went with the "Streisand Effect" argument. More pointless dribble and mindless IP bashing from techsnore.

    In which you fail to even acknowledge that I claimed that Conservative party has a point, but that it's meaningless compared to the impact of this decision. This isn't IP bashing, this is reality explanation. You can join us if you'd like, or you can toss around insults and not add to the conversation. Your choice.

     

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  31.  
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    Ron Rezendes (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 3:54pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Yes. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."

    So you are suggesting what type of punishment for the company that produces the product that caused her husbands terminal illness?

     

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  32.  
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    crade (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 3:54pm

    Re: Re:

    Parody and satire are defenses for copyright, I don't think they apply to trademark claims.

    The problem isn't the use of the logo, she can use the logo, just not in such a way as to make it look like her statement is an official statement from the conservative party. Preventing this sort of confusion is actually what trademarks are supposed to be for.

     

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  33.  
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    crade (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 3:58pm

    Re: Re:

    But the cons don't neccessarily care if people notice the banner or not. They may just want to make sure people know that it doesn't come from them.

     

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  34.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Re: From the looks of the logo......

    More pointless dribble and mindless IP bashing

    Got three yes/no questions for you:

    1) Could the Conservative party in Canada pass a law banning the export of asbestos?

    2) Haven't you argued that ISPs and other 3rd parties should be legally responsible for copyright infringement that they could stop?

    3) Assuming you answered yes to both of those, using the same logic, isn't Canada's Conservative party responsible for thousands of death per year?

    Oh, and I think the word you were actually looking for was "drivel" and not dribble.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 4:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Lock her in a box made of the stuff.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 4:16pm

    Re: Re:

    Dude, you've been coming out swinging a lot more lately (seems like it anyway). Good on ya' and all, but is everything alright?

     

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  37.  
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    shawnhcorey (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 4:43pm

    It's Exempt

    I looks like a political statement to me and in Canada, all political statements are exempt from trademarks, copyrights, patents, language laws, and other laws and regulations that would prevent a person from expressing their viewpoint.

     

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  38.  
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    Michael, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 5:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: From the looks of the logo......

    The Conservative party is the majority government in Canada. They have expressed the opinion that they can do as they please. This issue would be an easy one because there is a pact amongst many civilized nations to not deal in asbesto's and they would just have to join... they won't however because they are entirely against ANYTHING remotely environmentalist.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 5:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: From the looks of the logo......

    In which you fail to even acknowledge that I claimed that Conservative party has a point, but that it's meaningless compared to the impact of this decision. This isn't IP bashing, this is reality explanation. You can join us if you'd like, or you can toss around insults and not add to the conversation. Your choice.

    It's baseless FUD.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Re:

    Actually, that's not the point. First, she's said she won't stop using the mark, so you're wrong. Second, the "whole point" is that no one was paying attention to this until the party made a big deal out of it. So you're wrong.

    Why don't we wait and see whether she stops using the mark. I know you're not bothered by facts when drawing your conclusions, but it's hard for me to be "wrong" when it hasn't happened yet.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 5:41pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm just calling it out for the mindless dribble lately. I think he's on FUD autopilot. He's scraping the bottom of the FUD barrel if all he can come up is some amorphous "Streisand Effect" innuendo. He can certainly do better than this.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 5:45pm

    Re: Re:

    And I suppose if you think that 'time' fits this 'crime' then you also think littering warrants capital punishment then? Think before yoy speak.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 5:56pm

    Re: Re: From the looks of the logo......

    I think the word you're looking for is "drivel."

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 5:58pm

    Re: Re:

    "First, she's said she won't stop using the mark, so you're wrong."

    Cause widows and people faced with legal threats never lie, put up a tough exterior, or change their minds? C'mon man.

    "Second, the "whole point" is that no one was paying attention to this until the party made a big deal out of it. So you're wrong."

    And now that everyone is paying attention to it, they know that it's not actually a message from the Conservative party. So...how is he wrong?

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 5:59pm

    Re: Re:

    Wait, in what world did that happen?

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 6:44pm

    Re: From the looks of the logo......

    Actually an easy way for her to still keep the banner and allow a full defence is to insert "and this party allows it" underneath the logo for the conservative party.

    Also being a political party there is a problem since the trademark is for a non-profit, political organisation and passing off for commerce will not work. Though confusion could be a problem , hence my CYA phrase for her above.

    No matter what, this has now placed the Asbestos debate in an even worse situation politically since I don't see any statements to the effect by the Political party that the banner's message is not true and factual.

     

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  47.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 6:58pm

    Re:

    How will it stop her?

    It seems that her Husband died from direct exposure to asbestos, which in nearly every country (except the ones Canada sells it too) is classified as a highly toxic and illegal substance for construction (and other) usage?

    They sent her a nastygram, as you are fully aware it is just a piece of paper that holds no weight other than the implied threat of legal action at some unspecified date, and if action undertaken shows to a court that some sort of ADR was initiated. Big Wally Woop Woop!

    From reading her site it seems she is not one to be easily intimidated, especially by wanna-be political parties who are basically by this threatening behaviour biting their own foot off.

    I'd be very surprised if she has not already been contacted by Canadian and Internationally qualified solicitors/barristers in Trademark law to offer their expertise pro bono.

    As for suing her and she stops using the mark? What's the worst that could happen to her that a civil court can do if she refuses to stop using the mark? Contempt her? that will take lots of time and be politically unsound, not to mention the banner would be taken up and used by anti-asbestos organisations world wide in protest.

    No matter what though, whether to comply, or not with some politicians opinion on whether or not a breach of trademark has occurred, is her decision alone to make.

     

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  48.  
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    blaktron (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 7:50pm

    Re: It's Exempt

    This is actually a really good point, and fairly settled in case law I think. Im a Conservative, but this seems both stupid from a publicity perspective (could easily be dealt with using a statement about the economic benefit of controlled asbestos exports or something), its also probably not worth pursuing as I can see our current Supreme Court easily siding with her, and so would everyone else in our judicial system.

     

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  49.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 9:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: From the looks of the logo......

    So you've chosen the latter path. Of course, most of us figured you would.

     

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  50.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: From the looks of the logo......

    To question 2, I have to wonder where you got that. I've yet to read anything from him confirming the validity of 3rd party liability. 3rd party liability is stupid, putting the blame on parties other than those responsible, usually in a search for more cash.

     

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  51.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Aug 15th, 2011 @ 9:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The point was not to indicate that the message was from the Conservative Party, but to implicate them in the fact that such a material is still being mined, produced, and exported in spite of the very real health issues. So... how is he right?

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 9:38pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Depends on where you litter.

     

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  53.  
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    Alien Bard, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 10:12pm

    Re: Re: It's Exempt

    Which I think is rather the whole point of this article.

    There is nothing wrong with making an example of someone via a legal charge, but it is a good idea to pick your victim carefully, otherwise you may end up sending out the wrong message.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 10:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: From the looks of the logo......

    No, it's not.

    See, I can type useless unsupported one-liners too (although mine happens to be, you know, correct).

     

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  55.  
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    Alien Bard, Aug 15th, 2011 @ 10:22pm

    The irony here is that she was actually sending the WRONG message with this, thus helping improve the Conservatives image. Instead of implicating the them as pro-asbestos (her intent) she was showing them as pro-environmental. Of course the truth is neither; like most Canadian politicians 1they are simply pro-bribe-money.

     

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  56.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 16th, 2011 @ 2:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Dude, you've been coming out swinging a lot more lately (seems like it anyway). Good on ya' and all, but is everything alright?

    Don't think I'm doing anything more than usual. At least I haven't noticed anything. Sometimes it's fun to smack down people who clearly have no clue what they're talking about. And folks like the commenter above make it so easy because he's so wrong and so uninformed.

     

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  57.  
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    Jorvay, Aug 16th, 2011 @ 4:50am

    Re: Jon Stewart on the Subject

    Ironically, Canadians can't watch this link because of licensing restrictions...and the Canadian station that streams the show here only provides archived episodes as far back as July.
    A popular Techdirt issue within a Techdirt issue. So meta.

     

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  58.  
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    moron in a hurry, Aug 16th, 2011 @ 5:44am

    I'm so confused by this .....

    "The Conservatives, meanwhile, have steadfastly defended asbestos exports and insist they're safe when handled properly."

     

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  59.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 16th, 2011 @ 6:10am

    Not trying to cause confusion in the market

    If I use your logo to criticize you, then one argument you cannot use is that I'm causing confusion in the market. That is what trademarks are meant to protect from. I'm not causing confusion -- I want everyone to know EXACTLY who I am saying kills kittens and kicks puppies. I don't want there to be any confusion about it.

     

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  60.  
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    iBelieve, Aug 16th, 2011 @ 7:51am

    If this Canadian conservative party has ties to the asbestos industry and receives any support from them, they had better fasten their seatbelts now. If this widow has any evidence that the conservative party has any responsibility concerning asbestos mining and exportation, then why not point this out with her banner? How could the conservative party help? That would have been a complete and opposite stance they should have taken if they are truly a conservative bunch rather than suing her. What a bunch of hogwash.

     

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  61.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2011 @ 8:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Whether or not that was the intent of the person posting the message does not control whether that is now the message is likely to be interpreted.

    At any rate, you really seem to be going off on an unrelated tangent. The other AC said the point of the Conservative action was to get her to stop using the mark. I'm not sure what her intent has to do with whether their email will do that.

    I think the other poster may be right that the email will ultimately get her to remove the Conservative logo. But that was not my point (the opposite of "how have you shown he is wrong?" is not "he is right.").

    My points were: (1) that simply because the widow said she would not remove the mark does not mean that she will not do so eventually, and (2) media attention to this dispute helps dispel any confusion regarding Conservative sponsorship of the message, so I fail to see how that is contrary to the Conservatives' goal here.

     

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  62.  
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    no name, Aug 16th, 2011 @ 9:06am

    Conservatives

    How come when the PM went to SA the plane he was on, said CONSERVATIVE in big bold blue letters on an Air Canada Plane. I though Air Canada had their own logo and didn't know the word Conservative was in it. Air Canada might want to get in on the fight.

     

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  63.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Aug 16th, 2011 @ 10:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: From the looks of the logo......

    I can't tell half the ACs apart from each other, so it may have been a different one.

     

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  64.  
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    known coward, Aug 16th, 2011 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Honestly I was confused too. Looking at the ad, made me think the conservative party was against the exporting of asbestos. So in that sense, if the party was claiming that the use of their trademark was confusing and should be stopped I would agree.

    As to unauthorized use ?? She is using the trademark in the proper form to identify the conservative party. So that should be OK.

     

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

  65.  
    icon
    davnel (profile), Aug 16th, 2011 @ 1:05pm

    Logo

    Has anybody noticed that the logo looks like a twisted "C" rather than the 3D effect I presume they wanted? They should fix that unless they want to advertise themselves as the twisted party.

     

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


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