Chamber Of Commerce Drops Lawsuit Against Parodists The Yes Men, Who Ask The Chamber To Reconsider

from the please-re-bring-it dept

Roughly four years ago, activist group/prankster demigods the Yes Men held a press conference where they presented themselves as spokesmen for the US Chamber of Commerce and announced the Chamber had done an about-face on climate change. Everything was going well until an actual representative of the CofC crashed the Yes Men's party, exposing them as impersonators. A good time was had by all, except the Chamber of Commerce (and some duped reporters), the former of which immediately ran off to lawyer up.

Things escalated quickly.

The Chamber's first move was to fire off a DMCA takedown notice aimed at the Yes Men's Chamber of Commerce-aping website (www.chamber-of-commerce.us [no longer live]). This first attempt went nowhere quickly, although it did draw the attention of the EFF. Realizing copyright infringement might not be the best card to play, the Chamber shifted strategies and sued the Yes Men for trademark infringement. All of this took place in about 72 hours.

Nearly four years later, the Chamber of Commerce has decided to drop its suit against the Yes Men. The legal system in this country can be many things, but "speedy" isn't one of them.

The Chamber seemed pretty sure of itself four years ago. It was confident enough to rush into a lawsuit and a round of Streisanding to punish activists who briefly made them look ridiculous. But a push back by the EFF (and David Wright Tremaine LLP), citing use of trademark in criticism as protected speech, possibly caused the Chamber to reconsider seeing this one through.

Most entities who suddenly find a lawsuit against them dropped, especially one pursued by a much larger organization with deeper pockets, will take a few deep breaths and welcome the chance to go back to a more normal life, one free of pending legal action.

Not the Yes Men.

Soon after learning of the lawsuit's dismissal by the Chamber, the group fired off a response detailing their disappointment in the Chamber's unwillingness to see this thing through.
Washington DC, June 13, 2013 – The Yes Men today implored the U..S. Chamber of Commerce to reconsider their recent decision to withdraw the lawsuit they filed nearly four years ago, in a press conference on the steps of the lobbying giant itself.

"Just as their case against us was finally heating up again, the U.S. Chamber decided to drop it," said former defendant Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men. "The U.S. Chamber knew this was our chance to challenge their silly claims and, since they claimed we had 'damaged' them, investigate the details of their finances through the discovery process. It's the height of rudeness to deprive us of this great opportunity."

"The U.S. Chamber's lawsuit represented the only time in 17 years that anyone has been stupid enough to sue us," said former defendant Mike Bonanno. "This was the chance of a lifetime, and we profoundly deplore the U.S. Chamber's about-face."
Perhaps it's this sort of "can do" attitude that encouraged the Chamber's withdrawal from the battlefield. It's certainly not as though the organization suddenly learned to laugh at itself and adopt a more laissez faire approach to criticism-via-impersonation. More likely, it realized it was in for a tougher battle than it originally imagined and quite possibly didn't want to expose more of its inner workings than was strictly necessary.

The Yes Men had such great plans for the Chamber, too.
"In just the last fifteen years, the hoaxsters at the U.S. Chamber have spent nearly a billion dollars lying to children and adults, and generally lobbying for corporations and against humans," said Bichlbaum. "This lawsuit gave us a chance to help reveal the U.S. Chamber's many hoaxes to the public."
It's a sad day at the Yes Men HQ, but hope still springs eternal. The group is planning a little legal action of its own.
The Yes Men are considering a lawsuit against the U.S. Chamber for depriving them of the opportunity to expose them. "Tell 'em to put their damn helmets on," said Bonanno, echoing Tom Donohue's words upon launching the U.S. Chamber lawsuit in 2009.
I'm not sure where the Yes Men are heading with this, but it promises to be entertaining. Of course, they still need some legal help and this new angle has yet to find a lawyer that's willing to play the part of the straight man in a courtroom farce.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 8:29pm

    wow!!

     

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

  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 8:36pm

    See the link that Mike is so ashamed of that he's trying to censor it--just like a Chinese dictator: http://pastebin.com/5VUv7utm

     

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

  3.  
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    Zos (profile), Jun 20th, 2013 @ 9:09pm

    Re:

    damnit. there's not even any goat porn at that link.

     

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

  4.  
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    Zos (profile), Jun 20th, 2013 @ 9:12pm

    Re: Re:

    also, no one cares that you're banned. you're a boringly obsessive little failtroll. Now, when the government trys to shut down your internet access for being boring, i might give a rats ass.

     

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

  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 9:18pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The hilarious bit is for all the whining he makes about censorship he claims that people have viewed it over 200 times.

    So it's not being censored, making his original point bullshit. Surprise, surprise. What else can the John Steele fanboy do but bullshit?

     

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

  6.  
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    CK20XX, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 9:33pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    He was actually banned? He was punished for his abuse? I mean, I thought Mike didn't do that, that he believed every voice should be heard, no matter how hateful or ignorant it is.

    That's an admirable ideal, to be sure, but it does lead to all sorts of comment pollution that derails attempts at intelligent discussion, so I'm glad a banning finally took place. I mean, if you refuse to clean house, the dust bunnies just start piling up, and even the kindest parent has to punish his/her children lest they grow up to be spoiled and entitled.

     

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

  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 9:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If he was banned he wouldn't show up.

    Frankly, I wish Mike did block those posts, since it qualifies as legitimate spam.

     

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

  8.  
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    CK20XX, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 9:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If he was actually banned, he may be using IP tunneling software or something to get around it. Jack Thompson used to invade Game Politics that way.

    It was fun to be united against him for a while, but it did get old since his noise interfered with the grownups talking.

     

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

  9.  
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    Pixelation, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 10:27pm

    "The U.S. Chamber's lawsuit represented the only time in 17 years that anyone has been stupid enough to sue us,"

    Let's hope the Chamber can't take the verbal bashing and come back. That way they can be fully exposed.
    Yes Men all the way!

     

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

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 10:30pm

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

    As annoying (and worthless) as their 'comments' may be, I do hope Mike has not actually resorted to blocking him, as Mike has said many times its the start of a very slippery slope. Even if his comments are pretty much Spam, we as the community can flag it as such rather than having to resort to outright pre-emptive blocking (Not to mention such blocking will always be ineffective).

    I doubt Mike has block him regardless though, it would be too big of a point for them not to be presenting evidence of wrong-doing by Mike (And we know how much they like to harp on points like that). More likely they are just acting like they're banned and sling new insults at Mike

     

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

  11.  
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    Androgynous Cowherd, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 10:38pm

    Cause of action?

    I doubt "depriving them of the opportunity to expose them" constitutes a valid cause of action under state or federal law. But, the Yes Men could try goading the Chamber of Commerce into making another legal threat, then sue for declaratory judgment that they don't infringe their trademark (or whatever was threatened). Then the Yes Men get to decide venue and whether to drop the suit before it goes to a judgment or not.

     

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  12.  
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    CK20XX, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 10:45pm

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

    If Mike is self-aware enough to think about the slippery slope that much, it's probably not slippery for him at all. The Slippery Slope Fallacy usually ignores the individual connections between events in favor of simply linking one event inevitably to another. It's not fallacious all the time, as some slopes are indeed quite slippery, however the person claiming that it applies has to explain what logical, probable, and inevitable series of events make the metaphorical slope slippery. Otherwise, the argument has no meaning.

    Besides, sometimes the report button feels useless because all it does is hide the comment. It fixes the symptoms, but leaves the disease healthy enough to return. You gotta wonder sometimes how many new readers come here, see the trolls, then decide to read some other blog so they won't have to deal with them.

     

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

  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 10:54pm

    Re: Cause of action?

    If they have already realized what they were in for as the article states then I doubt they'd be stupid enough to try it a second time. Still, stranger things have happened (most of them in the government).

     

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

  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 20th, 2013 @ 11:09pm

    Re:

    In response, here's a userscript to block most of your posts: http://pastebin.com/MgfiQ0tt

    Techdirt really needs a 1) to hide all comments replying to stupid trolls and 2) a hellban system, where the user can't see that they're banned, but no one else sees your stupid fucking comments except mods

     

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

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2013 @ 12:54am

    the fact that shit would have hit fan, but not in the way the CofC wanted it is exactly the reason they dropped the action. they knew and still know what would have come out in court and none of it was going to be good for them! it's a shame that this didn't move forward. it would have been extremely interesting to have all the 'dirty little secrets' aired for the world to learn about!

     

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

  16.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jun 21st, 2013 @ 1:07am

    Its like that one time a copyright troll filed a lawsuit trying to scare the people who knew where the bodies are buried and what data to get in discovery...One of them was smart enough to run away.

     

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

  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2013 @ 1:56am

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

    That's a fair enough enough point, but I still would argue against the banning because ultimately it will have no effect. As they've taken to spamming in their comments, routing around an IP ban isn't exactly hard work, so in the end we would still have the spam but just give them another angle to attack Mike from (This is the same reason I doubt Mike would bother with the IP ban, he has to know how trivial it would be to get around).

    There is a chance some readers might be put off returning due to the Trolls but most of the time that would only be near the start of an article, in general the community is pretty good at flagging only the spamming comments (I don't think any of the ones I've ever checked have not deserved it)

     

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

  18.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jun 21st, 2013 @ 2:59am

    Re:

    You know... instead of contributing to this community, you keep spamming your link everywhere, and then complain that you're being banned.

    You are very abrasive and quick to use ad hominems instead of proper arguments, so don't expect ANY compassion from the people who frequent here and actually contribute.

     

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

  19.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jun 21st, 2013 @ 3:34am

    I kind of expected a more humorous plead to keep suing from the Yes Men. However it's pretty amusing. Reminds me of those animals that kind of inflate when predators try to eat them. The Yes Men may be smaller in terms of financial firepower but they have much more under their hood than plain money. And the US Chamber of Commerce surely has a lot to hide.

    Hopefully we'll see further developments here ;)

     

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

  20.  
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    apauld (profile), Jun 21st, 2013 @ 5:13am

    Re:

    wow indeed, what a pathetic loser you are

     

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

  21.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Jun 21st, 2013 @ 5:15am

    just a reminder to kampers...

    the 'chamber of commerce' is NOT the voice of ma/pa li'l bidness owners they make themselves out to be, they are financed and run by big korporations who use it as a means of introducing big-bidness friendly laws, and stifling any/all laws which seek to hold korporation's accountable, and/or promote worker rights...
    in short, they are scum, NOT your friendly neighborhood bidnessman...

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2013 @ 6:34am

    Re: Re:

    Do you know how many TOR exit nodes there are? or proxies?

    NAT users would also not be happy about it, some NATs are thousands strong.

    You could of course use a combination of browser fingerprint, IP, pixel id, unique referrer url identifier to zero in on one individual behind a NAT, but its a lot of work and it wouldn't be 100%.

    An even knowing I will feel dirty after saying this, AJ does have the right to say whatever he wants even if it is nonsense and some people oddly do agree with the guy so a better option could be to use metadata and cookies, the metadata to classify posts and cookies to remember preferences saying to hide those type of comments for ya, it wouldn't affect others and make the website look like you want.

    Do not block it, tag it.

     

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

  23.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Jun 21st, 2013 @ 7:59am

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

    There are just as many people that visit the blog, see the troll comments, and get irked enough to reply.

    The theory is that the trolls are friends of Mike's (or Mike himself) keeping the discussion tilted in the right direction by making it seem like only an idiot would side with the MPAA/RIAA/NSA and only morons hate Google.

     

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

  24.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jun 21st, 2013 @ 8:58am

    Re:

    See the link that Mike is so ashamed of that he's trying to censor it...


    You are not being censored, fool.

    Anyone with a shred of intelligence would realize that unregistered comments with a link would be more likely to be caught in the spam filter.

    Your comments DO eventually show up - just like this one did.

     

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

  25.  
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    Jay (profile), Jun 21st, 2013 @ 9:35am

    Re:

    That's more going on here. From the looks of it, this may have a lot to do with the Barrett Brown case...

    http://www.thenation.com/article/174851/strange-case-barrett-brown#axzz2WnGkfeJj

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2013 @ 9:55am

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

    There's no slippery slope here: spam is NOT speech and blocking it (and blacklisting those responsible for life) is always the appropriate response. Nothing is lost by permanently silencing these dirtbags: they have nothing of value to contribute and only serve to disrupt conversations.

    It's also arguably irresponsible NOT to block/blacklist them: it demonstrates a lack of consideration for those who are trying to contribute (even if the quality of their contributions vary, and I'm sure for most of us, that's true). There's just no reason to subject the readers/commenters on this site to this kind of filth day after day.

     

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

  27.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 21st, 2013 @ 11:15am

    Re:

    I kind of expected a more humorous plead to keep suing from the Yes Men.


    Me, too. But everyone has off days, even the Yes Men.

     

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

  28.  
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    Zos (profile), Jun 21st, 2013 @ 1:16pm

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

    websites as private property etc.

    i'd have an issue if the government tried to stop him from speaking, but if after the pages and pages of butthurt moaning someone here decided to kick him out of their yard, i've got no issue with that.

    if someone stands on your front porch and gibbers incessantly at you, i'm ok with turning the hose on them. If i thought that privilege was being abused by the admins, i'd go read another website. Could be all those years of moderating boards in the asshole of the internet, but some people really do want nothing but to shit up the joint, and my beliefs in liberty nowhere require me to put up with them. I trust masnick and techdirt to use the kill switch as a last resort, because of their actions to date.

     

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

  29.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jun 21st, 2013 @ 9:59pm

    Re: Re:

    Now if only more people had the will to focus on the real problems at the root rather than the distractions used to cover up those actions.

     

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

  30.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 22nd, 2013 @ 2:03pm

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

    You gotta wonder sometimes how many new readers come here, see the trolls, then decide to read some other blog so they won't have to deal with them.

    Are there sites with interesting discussions that don't have trolls?

     

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

  31.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Jul 18th, 2013 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re:

    Anyone with a shred of intelligence would realize that unregistered comments with a link would be more likely to be caught in the spam filter.
    Actually, that's incorrect. Any comments with links get caught up in the spam filter. I should know since I've wound up having my comments moderated for a while after leaving comments with links in them while I'm signed in.

     

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

  32.  
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    Smashing Pumpkins, Aug 6th, 2013 @ 7:00am

    I think there are lots of stuff to do for chamber of commerce about the increasing business trends around the world are high on above. . . .

     

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


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