You bring up some great points! On slander and libel, a business doesn't have a right to "control" their reputation. As in prevent people from relaying negative opinions about them. If a business does a poor job, then people SHOULD let others know. This is where people often try to abuse trademark and publicity rights to remove screw ups. When it comes to false statements then it's a bit more debatable. If one can prove the statements are false then I would say there is damage, but I wouldn't say that there's damage even if one can't prove that they're true. That's just my take on it.
The difference between something like slander and trademark is when someone says something bad about someone else, we all understand that this is the opinion or experience of another person. I would not mistake words spoken by another person as my own experience. When someone misrepresents themselves as someone else and delivers that bad experience they are creating firsthand experience. If I believed a knock off product to be genuine, then that can certainly give me a bad firsthand impression of the brand. Firsthand bad impressions are far more damaging than secondhand.
What needs to be protected is a businessís right to earn that reputation, good or bad, on their own. Trademarks help reduce confusion and impersonation that can lead to someone getting a bad rap for another's products or statements.
First is to reduce laws that bring people in to a broken legal system in the first place. Some things are better handled outside of the courts. I would much rather see a drug addict in rehab than jail, but it seems like more things are becoming a crime every day. That must change.
Another part of that is to make the courts less busy with old and useless legal code. It's easier to spot and prevent bad judgments when working with 1,000 lines of legal code than when working with 100,000. Laws should be repealed as often as they are passed. Instead we constantly pass laws and build a mind boggling complex system that may even be too complex for any one person to fully understand.
Bad decisions should be cleaned up by higher courts using the standard appeals process. Our legal system is setup in a way that this shouldn't be a problem. What is a problem is the difficulty and speed of the appeals process due to the amount of law that needs to be reviewed. Again simplifying legal codes would greatly improve this system as well.
Finally it comes down to individual people. American citizens must make an effort, even if it's only for a week or two before elections, to investigate their government. We must stop voting for a party or a pretty face and take an honest look at what each individual person stands for. There is no easy way to do this right now, but I hope to change that one day.
I certainly understand wanting to protect the environment, and that subject specifically is highly debated among libertarians for exactly the reason you stated. There are two easy solutions that I see and they are class action and charitable subsidies.
Class action allows people to pool resources, so it makes options like this much easier. Remember that local governments can also take up the case for their citizens as well. If a town's drinking water were polluted it may be possible for the entire town to group together to sue.
The second, charitable subsidies, is using non-profit action groups (like the EFF) that help people litigate on certain types of cases. I donate money regularly to the EFF, and I would probably do the same to it's environmental equivalent if one were to exist. Right now the system is stacked so that often the little guy can get crushed by regulation, but the big polluters often get away with paying relatively minor fines. Those fines are probably much less than they would face in a jury trial.
To your next question, in the case of international pollution we would use existing international law to sue. As it's effects cross borders there may be a place for the federal government here, but I doubt it would take an entire government agency to do so and more likely a team of lawyers working on a per case basis.
Libertarianism is also about simplifying government and laws. While you need a team of lawyers to handle even common tasks in today's courts, it wasn't that complicated a few decades ago. When agencies are abolished you also remove the complexity. That makes things like self representation and understanding the law things the common man can do.
Abraham Lincoln prepared for his law career by reading Blackstone's Commentaries, then simply taking an oath. Around the year 1900 most states did not require a university education to become a lawyer. It could usually be done with an apprenticeship, and most practitioners had not attended any law school or college. Wouldn't it be nice if we could go back to making things simple again rather than making everything more complex?
You are half correct. It is one who is damaged that needs to sue. The consumer could sue someone if they were damaged, but a business could sue if their "reputation" was damaged. That is what a trademark dispute is. It is also why trademarks are far more limited than something like a copyright. It is not the exclusive right to use a certain name, but the exclusive right to use that name in an particular industry.
Don't think that libertarians are free everything and nobody sues anybody. That's hippies. Most libertarians believe in the right to one's own property, and that using the court to protect your property (including your good name) is perfectly acceptable. Copyrights, patents, and trademarks are acceptable parts of that, but I believe libertarians (along with most Americans) would like to see all of these areas modernized and made less damaging.
As far as the method he used it was the proper channel for the type of dispute. The contract says all disputes must be handled this way, so that is the way it is being handled.
Not using BarackObama.com (assuming that he owns the trademark) or it would be likely that people would confuse it as official. That is the difference. People are confused and thinking that it is an official page. That's why there are trademark laws specifically protecting .com domains from this type of activity.
Again, free as long as you use your own brand. Throwing .com on the end of a trademarked brand does not make it a different brand. This has been established in case law (see my EFF link above).
Free market doesn't mean that everything is free. It means that everyone is free to compete. You are free to make your own brand and products and compete with them. You are NOT allowed to copy someone else's brand and ride on their good reputation. Trademark is how you protect a brand. It's a simple as that.
Think about it. Have you ever purchased something and had a great experience with the brand? Did you ever want to support that brand because of your positive experience? Do you want everyone else to copy that brand and make it difficult to determine what is real and what is a competitor's knock off? Trademark laws protect people by preventing confusion, and they help keep knock offs from ruining the reputation of a brand. People were confused by this domain and the numerous posts on their Facebook page by people who where confused and felt tricked proves that.
He got the trademark because he's had decades to establish his name as a brand and he filed the proper paper work. There were no other Ron Paul's out there offering similar products and services, so the trademark for these items is his. Trademark doesn't stop every Ron Paul from doing business, it just stops people who aren't Ron Paul from doing the same business that he does using his name.
You haven't studied up well enough then. Ron Paul often advocated using the established legal system to get things done. Since when does being a libertarian mean that you have to stand around and let everybody walk all over you? If "It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg" then let it be, but using someone else's trademark to make money picks their pocket. It's a perfectly legal and justifiable use.
First, the UN argument in the article is null as they are the appropriate body to take this to. WIPO handles international .COM domain trademark disputes, and like it or not it's the appropriate channel.
A quick whois lookup provides:
Domain ronpaul.com: JNR Corp
Apartado 29832, ElDorado
Ciudad de Panama, PA 00000 PA
A lookup on the records of the company provides: J N R CORP.
YAZMILDA ALMANZA MUŲOZ
RANCES DAYAN ROSADO VERGARA
GUILLERMO SANTOS MARFRET
The truth is lots of people thought the .COM was his official site because it had his name and HIS FACE plastered all over it (read the angry people on the Facebook page). Not only that it was selling merchandise with his name and face all over it and taking donations (from many thousands of people apparently). This is a for profit business that is making a profit a profit from his name, likeness, trademark, and supporters. They contacted the trademark holder to sell the domain to him for a substantial profit (over $800,000) which is very much against the rules for trademarked .COM domains. There is plenty of case law to support this see: http://ilt.eff.org/index.php/Trademark:_Domain_Names
He has every right to protect his trademark and avoid confusion by removing an "impostor" site. The most important reason for a trademark is to prevent "Likelihood of confusion" which certainly applies here. A big indicator of fraudulent registration is "not opportunistically trying to get value by using a well-known mark" which any site selling merchandise, advertising, and trying to contact the trademark owner to sell is certainly violating. No one can sell a website to a trademark owner for it's "value" as they do not own the trademark. The best they can hope for is to make a reasonable request to recover expenses. Even the $250,000 request is well beyond expenses.
Ron Paul owns the trademark on his name. So if the domain owner's name is Ron Paul then they have a strong case for fair use of the domain (the original owner had this). If it was a grass roots organization that did no for profit work then it too would have a fair use argument (it is a for profit business though). A trademark in the US is defined in the Lanham Act 1984 as "any word name, symbol, or device or any combination used or intended to be used to indicate the source of the goods". The touchstone of liability under this Act is that of confusion. Liability for infringement of a trade mark is strict. In other words, there is no need for intent or negligence. Liability arises when the infringer uses a mark which may be confused with the trade mark of the infringed party, when used in conjunction with similar goods or services. Their goods and services (shirts, bumper stickers, etc.) are nearly the same as what Ron Paul offers. It is direct competition.
If these were "grassroots" supporters then why the initial offer of over $800,000? Why the followup of $250,000? True grassroots supporters would have handed it over for free or for cost. They DO have a right to profit on their own efforts for their own brand, but their brand is in fact his brand. They DO NOT have the right to profit from his brand no matter how much work they put in to promoting it. A real "grassroots" supporter does these things out of love not profit.
I expect better research of a subject than this from Techdirt. Ron Paul has spent his career promoting freedom and protecting civil liberties. When a web site masquerades as "supporting" him, but is only using his name, likeness, and his good reputation to milk his supporters then I would expect people here to have the journalistic "cojones" to actually research the truth and not jump on the "bash the freedom guy" bandwagon. Anyone who votes no to SOPA and the NDAA deserves to have more research done than that. Please do so and post a correction.