Using Trademark Law To Stop Free Speech

from the first,-we-shoot-all-the... dept

The folks over at Public Citizen Litigation Group continue to fight the good fight against corporations and lawyers who are clearly misusing trademark law to bully individuals or organizations they don’t like. This is the same group who we recently covered supporting a woman who dared to sell the shampoo bottle on eBay that she had legally bought, and the law firm who was accused of trademark infringement by a railway company for having paintings of various trains (which they commissioned) shown on their website. In that case, it was clearly not a trademark violation at all (you can use trademarks in art), but one where the railway firm was upset that the law firm helped in cases involving injured railway employees. It seems that same sort of thinking is at work in the latest legal issue Public Citizen is involved in. It revolves around an environmental group that created an effigy of the governor of Texas kissing a smokestack. On the smokestack were the logos of various firms accused of polluting. It’s pretty clear protest speech, and hardly a violation of trademark, but don’t try explaining that to the lawyers who sent the nastygram to the group. When Public Citizen’s Paul Alan Levy sent a letter to the company’s lawyer, re-explaining the basics of trademark law (especially the part about how it’s perfectly legal to use a company’s logo in criticizing that company), the lawyer simply responded to Levy by saying he “looked forward to meeting [him] personally.” Why let something like the actual law get in the way of intimidation tactics?

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Using Trademark Law To Stop Free Speech”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Neal says:

I don't get it

You know, I don’t see why the courts don’t stomp on these lawyers. If a lawyer has had more than a couple trademark law cases then he/she knows the boundaries of trademarks and only a rare edge case is non-obvious. Attorneys should be held liable for fees and damages when they threaten or engage in litigation that someone fresh out of lawschool would see as rediculous.

Anonymous Coward says:

How dare you contradict me! Ill slap you silly???

So, when did 5 year olds start being able to pass the bar?
Vague threats like that are.. are… I’m at a loss for words, even most children are not that lame.

Perhaps the correct answer would be
“Yes, lets meet at the review board, then thy can sort you out properly as it’s obvious that you have no business being a lawyer.”

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...