Infringing Panties So Important To DHS, That It Intimidated Print Shop Owner Into Warrantless Search
from the there-is-no-beginning-to-these-agents'-usefulness dept
A few more details have emerged concerning the Dept. of Homeland Security’s daring daylight raid of a Kansas City lingerie shop. Our long, dark national nightmare ended just before Game 1 of the World Series when Peregrine Honig’s custom-made Royals-related underwear was seized by gun-toting DHS agents. The crime? Presumably trademark infringement (the government’s panty raiders specifically pointed out the joining of the letters K and C as problematic), although everyone involved (including the DHS super troopers) keeps referring to it as a “copyright” issue.
But lingerie shop proprietor Peregrine Honig wasn’t the only one involved in this criminal attempt to join the letters K and C across the buttocks of perky Kansas Citians. Techdirt reader GMacGuffin points us to this interview with Eric Lindquist, owner (and sole employee) of Lindquist Printing, where Honig’s allegedly infringing design was applied to a durable (but breathable) cotton blend.
Apparently, the DHS agents first tried a little subterfuge in hopes of catching Lindquist in the act of infringement.
“Agents met me on my way to a café next door to Birdies.” (Undercover officers wanted to know if Lindquist printed the panties.) “I said, ‘Yeah, we’ve done a bunch of projects in the past…’ He cut me off and says, ‘Well, I’ve got a project like that. Do you want to meet?’ I said, ‘I’m really busy. I don’t think I can get anything done if it’s Royals related. I’m planning on leaving town tomorrow.’”
At this point, the DHS likely felt they had a fleeing felon on its hands. Lindquist, however, didn’t put this all together until he saw the lingerie store’s Facebook page, which contained a post showing the infringing panties in a DHS evidence bag.
The DHS agents again tried to get Lindquist to agree to whip up some printed infringeables for them, but the print shop proprietor headed this off by demanding something rarely found in the possession of law enforcement officers: a warrant.
I said, ‘I don’t know what to do at this point. I think I’m supposed to ask for a warrant.’ He took that very poorly, explained I was in serious trouble and faced potential fines up to $250,000 and/or six years in jail. He said I had broken copyright law. “
(“Copyright law.” Or whatever. I guess the finer nuances of IP enforcement are left to those in the upper reaches of the DHS organizational chart.) The warrant request angered the g-men, as did Lindquist’s decision to stop talking to them. Lindquist retreated back into his studio. When he emerged a half-hour later, DHS agents approached him in a more straightforward fashion, with hands resting gently but threateningly on their holstered firearms.
“Two agents were in the dumpster, another six in my space, and another two were securing the building out front. They told me it could go one of two ways: I could insist or resist a search by demanding that a warrant be delivered there. If that was the case they would need to confiscate anything related to printing, which is, basically, my business.
“I didn’t feel I had much choice. So I did sign a piece of paper saying they had permission to search the premises…”
That’s what you get for exercising your rights, as they say. Rather than lose his business indefinitely (via the “forfeiture” of his presumed-guilty equipment), Lindquist waived his rights and allowed the ten DHS agents to rifle through his stuff in search of infringing goods. Their efforts were ultimately useless and Lindquist was allowed to return to his violated studio.
Bonus points for Lindquist: Because of a recent freelance (with the emphasis on “free”) stint in Ferguson, MO, DHS agents searched his studio while surrounded by photos of cops hauling away protesters. Rumors that Lindquist greeted DHS agents clad in one of his Ferguson-inspired creations — an UNARMED CIVILIAN shirt — are unconfirmed, but we’re certainly free to imagine they’re true.
Security Through IP Enforcement. That’s MY DHS!