Newspaper Claims Satirical Blogger Mentioning Its Name Is Trademark Infringement

from the get-better-lawyers dept

Gatehouse Media -- a smaller newspaper chain who actually had done some fairly innovative online things in the past -- has really become rather crazy when it comes to intellectual property lately. First it sued the NY Times for linking to it, then it threatened a forum site for linking to it with headlines and ledes (which most people consider to be fair use). Now it's going even further. Keyop points us to the news that the lawyers for one Gatehouse paper, the Utica Observer Dispatch have threatened a local satirical blogger with trademark infringement claims for the great sin of mentioning the name of the Utica Observer Dispatch.
We wish to advise you that the name, "The Observer Dispatch," that you are using is the property of GateHouse Media, protected by trademark and past usage rights. Your use of such name constitutes infringement of GateHouse's rights under federal, state and common law. Our proprietary rights in such name include the right to restrict the use of the name. It is important that we exercise our right to protect our name. Its serves as an important and distinctive representation of the origin of our products as well as the goodwill of GateHouse Media.
The blogger, Ray Jadwick, definitely makes fun of the Utica Observer Dispatch on his site, but it certainly doesn't appear to be trademark infringement. Making fun of your paper isn't likely to confuse even a moron in a hurry.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 11:05am

    Ironic name, wouldn't you say?

    The name GateHouse Media is quite ironic given their status as a gatekeeper. I am personally looking forward to the time that the gates our unmanned.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Almost as bad as the Associated Press

    Hey isn't a gatehouse honcho on the board of the Associated Press.

    Seems to me that this newspaper wouldn't like that if the tables were turned... Why don't we flood them with Cease and Desists from using any of our names... oh the hilarity!! Can you imagine them getting buried by thousands of them.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 11:33am

    Almost as bad as the Associated Press

    Hey isn't a gatehouse honcho on the board of the Associated Press.

    Seems to me that this newspaper wouldn't like that if the tables were turned... Why don't we flood them with Cease and Desists from using any of our names... oh the hilarity!! Can you imagine them getting buried by thousands of them.

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    Steven (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 11:49am

    O'rly

    If I were him my next blog post would be something along the lines of...

    Apparently The Observer Dispatch believes that have a trademark on the name, The Observer Dispatch, grants the right for The Observer Dispatch to have complete control of all uses of the name The Observer Dispatch. They appear to believe that any use of The Observer Dispatch that is not officially approved by The Observer Dispatch violates their trademark on the name The Observer Dispatch. What the folks at The Observer Dispatch seem to not understand is my use of the name, The Observer Dispatch, is not in a manner that could be found confusing by those looking for The Observer Dispatch and in no way does my use of The Observer Dispatch constitute trademark infringement.

    The Observer Dispatch has no legal authority to force me to stop referring to The Observer Dispatch as The Observer Dispatch. All my uses of the name The Observer Dispatch are done in reference to The Observer Dispatch and in no way imply that I represent The Observer Dispatch.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 12:11pm

    Past, Present and Future prediction:

    These "Media" orgs are doing nothing but herding themselves down the path to obscurity and oblivion with their misconstrued notions of what they think they have a legal right to keep others from doing.

    That path in this case is from GateHouse, to DogHouse and eventually the OutHouse.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Nobody, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 12:13pm

    Hold on there

    "Making fun of your paper isn't likely to confuse even a moron in a hurry."

    Well now, based on their response to this situation, I think I have to disagree with you on that one.

     

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

  7.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 12:18pm

    The Observer Dispatch is a piece of toilet paper !!!

    Now come and sue me for writing that one.

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    Gracey (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 12:27pm

    Oh for pity's sake.

    ,Nuff said.

     

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

  9.  
    icon
    Squirrel Brains (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 12:35pm

    Who ever wrote that letter to the blogger really does not have an understanding of trademark law.

     

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

  10.  
    icon
    Atkray (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 12:39pm

    ¿Can we get that one AC to change his name to "The Observer Dispatch"?

     

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

  11.  
    icon
    Joe Publius (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 12:39pm

    Re: O'rly

    The Utica Observer Dispatch?

    Oh, dear!

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Souvik Kar, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 1:01pm

    who is the moron here

    It is obvious techdirect readers are morons compared to the readers of the Observer Dispatch.

    Just look at the level of detail needed by the techdirect readers for a recent article.

    "We had recently written about how a group called the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Inc (SMRi) had received trademarks on the name of the city of Sturgis, where the famed motorcycle rally is held each August. SMRi was then using the trademark to block the sale of souvenirs from any "unauthorized provider."

    This is all the information a reader of Observer Dispatch would need.

    We had recently written about how a group which had received trademarks on the name of the city, where a famed motorcycle rally is held each August. The group was then using the trademark to block the sale of souvenirs from any "unauthorized provider."

     

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

  13.  
    icon
    CommonSense (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Re: O'rly

    Concluded:

    "With a special thanks to the lawyers of a particular area newspaper that would not like me to use their name, for giving me the inspiration to write this post."

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Re: who is the moron here

    What's this Techdirect you keep referring to?

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    kenichi tanaka, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 2:21pm

    Blogger Threatened

    I love The Observer Dispatches message to the blogger:

    In a telephone interview this morning, that certain newspaper’s certain publisher (the Observer Dispatch’s Donna Donovan) warned, “I hope that Mr. Jadwick doesn’t think we’re kidding. Our parent company and I know exactly where he lives, we know where the schools are that his children attend, and, may God forgive us, we know where his mother is buried.”

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Keyop, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Blogger Threatened

    The whole site seems to be mostly parodies & fake interviews. That "quote" is likely one of them.

     

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

  17.  
    icon
    Squirrel Brains (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 2:45pm

    Re: who is the moron here

    What on earth are you talking about?

     

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

  18.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 5:13pm

    Did I mention I own a Ford?

    The Ford Motor Company totally sues me every time I mention online that I own a Ford Focus and my last car was a Ford Taurus.

    Worse yet, there are pictures in my gallery and they totally sued me for putting up pictures AND for having "Focus" in the URL.

    They also totally sue Carmax every time they put a Ford up for sale on their website because it dilutes the trademark; people might think they're buying their used cars from Ford! So when I bought my redacted from redacted they couldn't actually tell me what I was buying. Because, you know, they'd totally get sued. I can't even tell you who I bought it from because they'll sue for trademark infringement if I mention I bought it at Carmax. Oops.

    You don't even want to hear about GM and Chrysler.

    P.S. This was totally a parody.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 5:49pm

    I'm confused, but...

    Isn't the primary purpose of a trademark to prevent consumer confusion?

     

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

  20.  
    icon
    mrtraver (profile), Aug 24th, 2011 @ 7:03pm

    Re: Hold on there

    "Morons" refers to people with an IQ of 51-70, so these are obviously "imbeciles" (IQ of 26-50) or "idiots" (IQ of 0-25).

    Hurray! I finally used my psychology degree in the real world! You want fries with that?

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, Aug 24th, 2011 @ 10:48pm

    Re: who is the moron here

    It is obvious techdirect readers are morons compared to the readers of the Observer Dispatch.

    Did you get permission from GateHouse Media to use "The Observer Dispatch" in your example? If not, expect to receive a letter like the following from some moron in your mailbox:

    We wish to advise you that the name, "The Observer Dispatch," that you are using is the property of GateHouse Media, protected by trademark and past usage rights. Your use of such name constitutes infringement of GateHouse's rights under federal, state and common law. Our proprietary rights in such name include the right to restrict the use of the name. It is important that we exercise our right to protect our name. Its serves as an important and distinctive representation of the origin of our products as well as the goodwill of GateHouse Media.

     

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

  22.  
    icon
    mike allen (profile), Aug 25th, 2011 @ 2:37am

    So "The Observer Dispatch" owns the title "The Observer" Someone tell the British national Sunday of that name which has been around (I think) longer than "The Observer Dispatch". perhaps the idiots at "The Observer Dispatch" don't want to open that can of worms.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Jeff Brown, Aug 25th, 2011 @ 4:56am

    Don't lump us all together

    Dogbreath..

    Please, oh please don't lump all larger media orgs together under that statement. We're not all clueless...

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, Aug 25th, 2011 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Don't lump us all together

    Not saying all are, but sometimes all it takes is having the wrong person/people in the right place once (i.e. media orgs taken over by new management hiring clueless CEOs, CFOs, etc... who can only see money in their eyes). Many companies making such mistakes have managed to kneecap themselves or even remove their own heads, permanently. Lets hope that enough of the current media orgs see the pitfalls in the examples of other former media conglomerates and learn from the lessons of the past.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Howard Owens, Aug 25th, 2011 @ 9:10pm

    gatehouse

    It would be real tempting to jump on the bashing GHM bandwagon with a remark along the lines of "Really, Gatehouse? Really?"

    The suit based on the information provided here sounds ridiculous on its face.

    When something sounds that ridiculous, I've learned that often, there's more to the story. Clearly, not all the facts are available.

    It's the same with the GHM vs. NYT law suit referenced here as "First it sued the NY Times for linking to it ..." Which is a bogus and complete miss-characterization of what the lawsuit was about. It's a complete facile toss off that doesn't even begin to get close to explaining the law suit.

    And as a matter of disclosure, I worked for Gatehouse at the time of the suit and was involved in the case.

    I'm no longer employed by GHM and know nothing about this case other than what is presented by Techdirt. I honestly and frankly have no desire to defend GHM, but experience tells me, we're not getting the whole story.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This