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!

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Comments on “Infringing Panties So Important To DHS, That It Intimidated Print Shop Owner Into Warrantless Search”

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66 Comments
art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Who the heck was the C.O. in all of this?

parasitizing off your post to point to a related story: in lost wages, the piggies (in the form of the feebs) thought it would be really neat constitution-defying trick to mess with the internet connection of some high-rollers they suspected of avoiding paying the gummints gambling cut, THEN they would swoop in as fake techies to ‘fix’ their intertubes…

only thing was, a butler for these high-roller suites told them to fuck off… so, instead of just ‘flickering’ their internet service, the feebs shut it down completely, then waited for the howling to start before they sent in their fake techies…

oh, then -quelle surprise, mon dieu, sacre bleu!- they lied to the judge in order to get all this otherwise inadmissible stuff admitted…

you and me ? not allowed to lie to anyone anywhere without risking a multi-year jail sentence ?
piggies ? lying is their stock in trade…

lying pukes, hate ’em all…

ryuugami says:

Re: Re: Who the heck was the C.O. in all of this?

Nice Naruto Reference.

Well, one of them is.

For those who aren’t well-versed in the arcane knowledge of Japanese animation:
Happousai – a perverted old martial arts master, from Ranma 1/2
Muten Roushi – ditto, from Dragon Ball
Jiraiya – the same, from Naruto

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Who the heck was the C.O. in all of this?

For those who aren’t well-versed in the arcane knowledge of Japanese animation:

I did find myself having to sit through a lot of that when hanging out with my nephews when they were young. I think the best of them I saw was “Samurai Jack” (I think; long time ago), and I think that wasn’t true Japanese Manga (as in “Hollywood knockoff”).

The best I can say about that stuff now is puerile, not to mention seriously boring. I’m amazed that grown adults find it entertaining. I very much preferred their “addicted to dinosaurs” stage.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t blame DHS or the police. It’s the morons in this country, and I’m referring to every American and American voter who supported the passage of The Patriot Act.

Now, over the past several years, everyone has decided that they have “BUYER’S REMORSE” and no longer support it.

Well, because of the morons in this country who supported the law, now law enforcement is out of control and you have only yourselves to blame for this crap.

If you have nothing to hide and you’re not doing anything wrong, consent to the search. If you refuse, then you’re obviously doing something wrong because now you’ve created suspicion in the eyes of law enforcement.

Suck it up and stop whining about it.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Now, over the past several years, everyone has decided that they have “BUYER’S REMORSE” and no longer support it.”

Since the patriot act requires regular renewal, if the opinion of the citizenry had any real effect at all it would have been gone a while ago. So, at least at this point, it’s hard to directly blame “morons” for this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Given your apparently near-superhuman gift of foresight combined with such oratory eloquence and rhetorical skill, perhaps we morons should actually be taking you to task for failing to prevent the current state of affairs from ever arising. Why haven’t you lead us out of darkness? Surely, such a thing cannot be beyond your powers?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Near-superhuman? Anyone with two functional brain cells was warning that the expanded police powers would be abused. Those that possessed less than two functional brain cells and those that stood to gain from those abuses dismissed those warnings as something that would never happen, and they started witch hunts against those who raised the warnings in a fervor of mindless nationalism.

ElectroPig von FökkenGrüüven (user link) says:

Re: Re: Whassis?!?

Actually, if the MORONS who voted in the “people” who voted for the “patriot act” that threw the states directly into Orwell’s 1984 would STOP VOTING IN THE SAME MORONS, then things COULD change.

Sadly, a wilfully ignorant and deliberately antipathetic society does indeed get the government they deserve.

Govern: To control.
Ment(al): of the mind.

Think about it a second or two…y’all ain’t gotsa ta be sum kinda brainocologist er nuthin’…

Nicci Stevens (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Whassis?!?

Lets think about this for a moment: The Speaker of the US House of Representatives represents Ohio’s 8th district. This district has 725,000 people. This includes people who cannot vote. This one person has more control over the legislative process in the US than any other one person. If, for example, all of the other 534 members of Congress were to support a bill to repeal the Patriot act, he could prevent that by not allowing the bill to even be discussed by the house. This man was elected by his district, overwhelmingly, with 246,000 votes. I’m glad his district likes him so much but that is roughly 0.2% of the people who voted in the 2012 election. That isn’t to say that all of the 125 million voters in 2012 would have otherwise not voted for him, but, it does show that a person who represents 0.2% of the electorate holds ultimate legislative control over the other 99.8%

The system is rigged. The really great part is this “Democractic Republic” idea leaves the ability to change that in the hands of those who would benefit the least from such changes: Congress. There is no federal referendum system. Further, this assumes that its all above board and when some 15 billion dollars were spent on federal elections two years ago, one must conclude there are a lot of people owed and those people are also no the electorate.

Barring armed revolution there is no effective way to change that I can see and I am not taking up arms against a government who so brainwashes its people to believing that they need to pay higher taxes so that rich people can pay lower ones.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I don’t blame DHS or the police. It’s the morons in this country, and I’m referring to every American and American voter who supported the passage of The Patriot Act.

Now, over the past several years, everyone has decided that they have “BUYER’S REMORSE” and no longer support it.

Well, because of the morons in this country who supported the law, now law enforcement is out of control and you have only yourselves to blame for this crap.

If you have nothing to hide and you’re not doing anything wrong, consent to the search. If you refuse, then you’re obviously doing something wrong because now you’ve created suspicion in the eyes of law enforcement.

Suck it up and stop whining about it.


This is an example of “mission creep” (of your thoughts).

Even though the person affected by this, individually, might not have been supportive of passage of The Patriot Act, you blanket-think that they should “suck it up” like those that did.

Hence you are obviously supportive of it yourself; and are willing to use disparagement as a tool to get more to comply.

Nicci Stevens (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I don’t know anyone who supported the passage of that piece of trash. Don’t think for a minute that its authors intended it to be supported. It was waiting in the wings for an event that would allow its application, introduced before congress with no time for its reading before passage.

I have every right and obligation, as a citizen, that you call moron, to object, complain and protest such actions. That’s not whining.

The word “Patriot” has been used often since that day more than 13 years ago that allowed us to be imposed with illegal legislation that, essentially, says that if you do not follow, blindly, the course of those who propped themselves up as “leaders” you’re the enemy. That’s foolishness not patriotism and that sentiment was put in place by a regime who, using his big brother’s staff and his own previous cronyism, elected himself.

We could, as you say, stop whining. That would, however, allow the very thing you says is being “let” happen.

Nicci Stevens (profile) says:

Re: Bad guys (whatcha gonna do when they come fore you)

And yet there still exist people who wonder why the police are increasingly being view as bad guys.

  • The police are you’re friends and there to protect you.
  • There is no federal police force
  • The check is in the mail.
  • I have read, and agree with the terms of service.

The biggest lies ever told.

The police have no interest in protecting the public, but they have an obligation where a special relationship exists. (Warren v. District of Columbia [444 A.2d. 1, D.C. Ct. of Ap. 1981]). This special relationship is likely that of corporations.

Look at the laws that are passed, court cases. While Warren V. DC doesn’t cover this topic, others do, such as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. (2010), (Docket No. 08-205), which gives corporations the same clout and as a person, but a person with incredible unfettered lobbying ability.

Major League Baseball is a for-profit business that enjoys special congressional protection. As such its logos must be protected by the federal police.

The biggest lie of them all: The United States of America is has a Democratic Republic Government. It is, in fact, an oligarchy.

As such, the police, often left to their own devices, take the power vested in them by the federal and state governments and get intoxicated on it and this breeds paranoia of “regular” people. The police see us as the enemy. Instead of being held to a higher standard they are held to a lower one.

Since the police don’t mess with the fat cats until one turns on another, they tend to be left alone to deal with us citizens (subjects) when we get out of line, the biggest line we can cross, however, is taking even one red cent from the coffers of big business. There is no reason for those who shape and form policy to change the way cops are policed and dealt with when they press hard on the peons for simply exercising their rights.

Commenter2334 says:

Re: Re:

… or recent incidents such as shooting an unarmed cooperative motorist because he might have exposed himself to injury by removing his seat belt too soon before parking.

Another recent one claiming to protect a polite intimidated passenger without a seat belt: smashing his window, shooting him with a tasar, and dragging the now-injured victim out of the car.

Routine lies by the police would have been effective in these cases of pointless violence if they had not been recorded. How many other cases of senseless terrorism are routinely created, but with no recording available to the victims?

We desperately need more checks both on pointless despotic laws, and the pointless violence police often enjoy using with the thinest of excuses to enforce them.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It would have been better if he were in a position to stand up for his rights and let the cops shut down his business for it. He would likely have won big in the subsequent lawsuit(s). However, it’s also likely that he couldn’t have afforded the loss of income during the lengthy time it would take for the lawsuits to reach their conclusion.

peter says:

Re: Threat?

Threat? No no no. You have it all wrong. We were just explaining his legal alternatives. If he took the fact that one of the alternatives could have been more disruptive to himself and his business, well that was his interpretation. It certainly was not meant as a threat or retaliation. Oh no your Honour, certainly not!

Anonymous Coward says:

Idiot. The Patriot Act was suppose to expire in 2005 but yet Democrats continue to renew that damn law, making it a permanent law.

I don’t blame law enforcement, I blame the morons in this country who supported these laws. Just what did everyone think would happen?

When you give your government new powers, they are very, very reluctant to give those powers up and it makes it impossible to repeal those laws.

Anonymous Coward says:

law and order is dead in America. With your remaining rights soon to follow, though considering law enforcement acts like citizens have no rights that could already be a reality.

Crime and corruption are the rule now rather than the exception it seems. Most of the crimes being committed by those the public blindly trusts to uphold their rights and laws of the land.

broken says:

Re: Re:

On the contrary! This proves that law and order are alive and well. you may not like it, but, hey, they probably foresaw a possible underwear bomber at work. Copyright was just a cover… There are many creative types in our DHS who have bravely opened new frontiers of law enforcement…

Only way to stay ahead of all those uncreative and less talented Chinese army types who keep breaking into American entities to steal those infos…

They have prevented the chinese copycats flooding our market with K and C put together…

Brig C. McCoy (profile) says:

I hate DHS and their actions, but these jerks aren't innocent, either...

Keep in mind, Honig is quoted in The Pitch as saying:

“We’d sold about 30 pairs,” Honig says. “It’s not like we’d gone crazy. We hoped to make a little money for our small business. As small-business owners, we didn’t think we’d be targeted. It’s kind of silly, a bunch of wealthy older people deciding that we can’t sell people something that Major League Baseball itself doesn’t make.”

http://www.pitch.com/FastPitch/archives/2014/10/21/homeland-security-made-a-royals-panty-raid-at-birdies

So she’s saying, “Hey, we only stole a little bit, why are they picking on us.”

Yeah, DHS is a bunch of jack-booted thugs, but it’s hard to be sympathetic to an ‘artist’ who was knowingly ripping off someone else’s intellectual property.

…brig

Michael (profile) says:

Re: I hate DHS and their actions, but these jerks aren't innocent, either...

So she’s saying, “Hey, we only stole a little bit, why are they picking on us.”

Actually, what she is saying is:

“Hey, we may have possibly infringed on someone’s trademark in a way that did no financial harm and has a possibility of having helped their business. Because of this, we did not think we would be on the receiving end of law enforcement action.”

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: I hate DHS and their actions, but these jerks aren't innocent, either...

Yeah, DHS is a bunch of jack-booted thugs, but it’s hard to be sympathetic to an ‘artist’ who was knowingly ripping off someone else’s intellectual property.

It really wasn’t that long ago that it was both common and considered perfectly legal to make your own fan ware. It was only a couple decades ago that sports leagues suddenly went crazy over trademark protection, and it’s still questionable whether or not there’s a legitimate argument there, or if these things should be protected as fair use.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Trademark Fair Use [was I hate DHS...]

… if these things should be protected as fair use.

You want to run the trademark fair use argument past me, please? I’m not seeing it.

Specifically, are you claiming classic (trademark) fair use? Nominative (trademark) fair use? Or some other type of (trademark) fair use? Perhaps a new type of (trademark) fair use?

GMacGuffin (profile) says:

Re: I hate DHS and their actions, but these jerks aren't innocent, either...

Your position assumes that the panties were actually infringing — even civilly, let alone criminally — which has not been established. Would the panties have caused a likelihood of confusion as to the source of the product? Perhaps, but not established.

Regardless, this is clearly a homegrown smalltime operation, raising the question why this would be considered a criminal infringement, investigated on our dime. A Cease & Desist from the Royals would have done it.

For criminal infringement/counterfeiting, one needs a bit more than for civil infringement, e.g.:

The mark is “identical with, or substantially indistinguishable from” the genuine trademark. 18 U.S.C. § 2320 (d)(1)(a)(ii). This element assures that not every case of trademark infringement amounts to trademark counterfeiting. The “indistinguishable from” standard is to be interpreted on a case-by-case basis.

from: http://www.justice.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usam/title9/crm01715.htm

Also from the link: the mark has to be registered in the USPTO Principal Register. I did a quick search, and the “KC Royals” as well as “KC” marks are registered, of which the panties are not substantially similar in my view.

What I am looking at looks like a cheap copy. It is not necessarily “identical with or substantially indistinguishable” nor would it necessarily create likelihood of confusion. It is a poor case-study for criminal liability. Yet, here comes the DHS…

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: I hate DHS and their actions, but these jerks aren't innocent, either...

“DHS is a bunch of jack-booted thugs, but it’s hard to be sympathetic to an ‘artist’ who was knowingly ripping off someone else’s intellectual property.”

My sympathy for the retailer is not about getting caught in a minor “ripoff”. It’s the jack-booted thugs part. It would have been reasonable to expect that legal action would come in the form of the usual things: a cease-and-desist and maybe a lawsuit, rather than armed agents.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Knickers

this is why the rest of the world points and laughs at you behind your back.

Behind their back?!? I’m doubled over giggling uncontrollably pointing in their face. “And you put up with !@#$ like this?!?!? Ho. Ly. !@#$” Now, I’m on the floor, rolling around, bumping into the furniture!

Seriously, a squad of Gestapo threatening to cart away everything in a guy’s store if he insists on a warrant?

Over a K and a C connected stylistically?

Yet I hear no angry mobs converging on DHS HQ intent on just burning the damned house down already, followed by Congress as soon as that’s done!

I very much doubt the raw combined profit the involved infringers got from this caper added up to enough to buy a case of Empire Strikes Bock.

The USA has lost its mind.

Rekrul says:

“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…”

“Comply or we’ll destroy your business.”

And yet people still claim with a straight face, that we’re not living in a police state…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

in a true ‘police state’ they don’t bother with the ‘asking’, they just do whatever they want anyway

United States v Whisenton (8th Cir, September 2014)

 . . . That afternoon, the agents returned to Whisenton’s house. The agents decided to utilize a “knock and talk” tactic to gain consent to search the house. . . . About 10 seconds after the agents knocked, Whisenton’s wife returned and opened the door. At that point, the agents pushed her back from the door and, with guns drawn, entered the house.

Once inside, the agents directed Whisenton to sit on the couch as they conducted a protective sweep. After the sweep, the agents asked Whisenton for consent to search. Whisenton did not respond. Still on the couch, Whisenton asked the agents if he could smoke a cigarette. The agents permitted him to smoke, and, as he finished, the agents again asked him if they could search the house. Once again Whisenton did not respond. The agents informed Whisenton that they would obtain a search warrant if he did not provide consent to search, and Whisenton and the agents discussed whether the agents were going to tear up his house. After that discussion, Whisenton consented to the search, both orally and through a written consent form. The consent form, which Whisenton signed, stated that he “ha[d] been informed by [the agents] of [his] right to refuse consent to a search of [his] property,” he “voluntarily and intentionally consent[ed] to allow [the agents] to search [his] property,” and his consent was “freely given and not the result of any promises, threats, coercion, or other intimidation.” . . . .

We agree with the Government that Whisenton’s consent to search was an act of free will sufficient to purge the taint of the claimed Fourth Amendment violation. . . .

Whisenton specifically asked whether the agents would “tear up his house” if he granted them consent to search. Whisenton’s questioning of the agents as to the manner of their search demonstrates his deliberate consideration of the situation, indicating the type of reflection the Greer court found to be critical. . . .

We hold that Whisenton’s grant of consent to search was the product of free will . . . .

The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Always nice to see a court … making rational, fact based rulings.

You indicate a little bit of sarcasm there.

The events that the 8th Circuit just related in Whisenton took place in St. Louis, and so the district court opinion came out of the Eastern District of Missouri. Digging into that opinion below, you see that the United States District Judge was guided by the report and recommendation of a United States District Magistrate.

To be sure, one out of the three judges on the 8th Circuit panel did dissent—outvoted by the other two. But, all told that leaves four out of five honorable judges who found free-willed consent under those circumstances.

Recently, I read a scholarly article by Julia Ann Simon-Kerr (University of Connecticut School of Law) that may help to explain this: “Systemic Lying”.

Abstract:
This Article offers the foundational account of systemic lying from a definitional and theoretical perspective. Systemic lying involves the cooperation of multiple actors in the legal system who lie or violate their oaths across cases for a consistent reason that is linked to their conception of justice. . . .

Of course, Kansas City is not in the Eastern District of Missouri with St. Louis, but rather out in the Western District, and thus it might be just a little bit different there.

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