Tiananmen Activist… Turned Entrepreneur… Turned User Of Trademark To Stifle Free Speech
from the free-speech-for-me,-but-not-for-thee dept
Paul Alan Levy alerts us to yet another shameful case of someone abusing trademark law to try to silence critics. In this case, it involves the software company Jenzabar, which makes software for colleges and universities, and apparently likes to play up the fact that its founder and CEO, Ling Chai, was one of the “leaders” of the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989, before fleeing to America. Apparently Chai likes to play up that connection for PR purposes, and has been able to get the press to cover Jenzabar with headlines like “From Tiananmen Leader to Netrepreneur” and “From Starting a Revolution to Starting a Company.”
However, when the makers of a documentary film about the uprising at Tiananmen Square included some comments and links to articles that were critical of Chai, she went legal. It started with a lawsuit claiming defamation against the film makers, which got quickly tossed out. So, instead, Chai and Jenzabar appear to be trying to use trademark law to bankrupt the filmmakers. They’ve filed a trademark lawsuit, claiming that the filmmakers’ web page, that talks about Chia and Jenzabar, violates its trademarks, noting that the page turns up in search results on Jenzabar and the term is in the metatags.
Pretty much everyone involved recognizes that this is a ridiculous abuse of trademark law to stifle free speech. There is no violation of trademark here. Posting links to stories about Chai and Jenzabar that are critical of her is not a trademark violation in any manner. Using the term in metatags is totally meaningless. It’s a shame that someone who apparently once stood as a voice for freedom is now trying to stifle free speech in others via trademark law abuse.