Vice Media Settles With Indie Band ViceVersa, Showing That Trademark Bullying Totally Works

from the oh-great dept

A while back, we wrote about the hilariously bullying cease and desist notice Vice Media, a billion dollar media company, sent to ViceVersa, an un-signed punk band. At issue, according to Vice Media, was the band’s name and trademark application, both of which the media company declared would damage its own brand and confuse customers. Neither of those claims was remotely true, but they bullied in the way that only bullies can.

Which brings us to the present, where we learn the good news that Vice Media has settled with the band over the dispute.

Today, both parties reached a settlement over the trademark dispute. Reached for comment, a Vice spokesperson said: “We’re glad this worked out for both parties, and we wish the band the best of luck.”

This is where most of the folks reading this news will breathe a sigh of relief that sanity has been reached and everyone has walked away from this whole thing amicably and whole. Which is partly true. But not entirely. Check out the band’s statement through its lawyer.

In a statement, ViceVersa’s lawyer wrote: “After a few weeks of negotiations, the two parties have come to an amicable agreement. Changes have been made to the band’s trademark details as registered with the USPTO, thus narrowing the scope of their services. ViceVersa will continue using their name and logo as they please and Vice Media will go about their $2.5 billion business.”

If you can’t hear the disdain dripping in that statement, your brain needs a tune up. And it’s not difficult to understand why that disdain would be there. After all, even if we assume that there was no monetary requirement for this settlement, even if we recognize that the band will be able to continue using its name, and even if the only minor changes were needed to the band’s trademark paperwork to keep it as narrow as possible…what did Vice Media give up as part of this “settlement?”

Nothing. The claim that the band’s name was infringing in any way was not a valid claim, so the band’s continued use of it is not a concession by Vice Media. Nothing in the band’s original trademark application would have covered anything that would have confused any customers anywhere that an indie punk band was somehow also part of Vice Media. In other words: since Vice Media’s claims were total bullshit, giving up on any part of those claims isn’t a concession, whereas the band’s concessions were minor but very real.

Bullying works, in other words. By virtue of its size, Vice Media was able to work its will on a small indie punk band just because it could. Don’t be fooled by the settlement into thinking it was just.

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Companies: vice media

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Comments on “Vice Media Settles With Indie Band ViceVersa, Showing That Trademark Bullying Totally Works”

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Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously says:

They already compromise their readers’ digital safety.
So, with less readers, it is not surprising thay they have to find _something_ for their employees to do.
Trademark-trolling is off course the standard path to go in that situation.
A very predictable course of action, albeit not yet a profitable one.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Bullying works, in other words.

Yes, because that’s what they learned as kids.

Techdirt has repeatedly criticized proposals for laws against bullying in schools, particularly of the cyber- variety, on the premise that the proposed penalties would ruin the bullies’ lives. Well, this is what happens when bullies do not “get their lives ruined.” They grow up learning that they can get away with it. As the branch bends, so grows the tree.

The ironic thing about it, though, is the way adult bullying leads to lives literally, not hyperbolically, being ruined. Businesses driven out of business by vicious monopolists. Life-saving medicines being priced at ridiculously unaffordable rates. Wives and children beaten and abused by a person who they should be able to trust absolutely. Police brutality. This is what happens when bullies grow up without being straightened out.

Given the choice between “ruining the life of” a young thug, or letting the young thug grow into an adult thug who’s going to ruin many lives–and let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that’s not exactly what is at stake–the choice is obvious.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

To be fair, I’m certain a few of the reasons behind such criticism is that many of these initiatives is because their application is a combination of impractical or indiscriminate.

I will strongly agree with you, though, on the sentiments that bullying is pretty much entrenched in how we function as a society. If you’re on the receiving end of bullying you really don’t get many options for recourse. Teachers are increasingly less willing to interfere in such cases, either because they can’t be bothered to make the effort or because they feel that any penalty that isn’t borderline ruinous will be ineffective. Society as a whole is a lot more willing to blame the bullied target as “overly sensitive”, “lacking in character” or some other half-assed excuse to justify the strong feeding upon the weak. Personally, I came from a schooling background where if a couple of jocks or pranksters did something inexcusable, the entire batch of students was punished to set an example. Because obviously punishing the nerds and other weaklings with the assholes making their life hell would clearly build moral character and brotherly camaraderie, or something.

I’ll grant that child bullying is not an easy problem to adequately resolve, but it’s pathetically amusing when the same people mocking bullied victims for seeking recourse by the courts when the school authorities are clearly not working for them, then proceed to complain about adult bullies. What else did you expect when society as a whole not only permits, but actively encourages survival of the fittest by any means necessary, and puts the biggest assholes on top of a pedestal?

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

What AC @ 7.39 said. TD doesn’t support or encourage bullies or bullying, nor does it oppose measures taken to stop bulling as such. The problem with most of the laws proposed to counter bullying is that they’re over-broad and therefore wouldn’t counter anything. Think “sledge” and “hammer.”

Any counter-bullying measures that would actually be effective would have to be targeted. Better moderation and intervention for cyber-bullying cases would do the job better than the scattergun approach preferred by the knee-jerk reactionaries who want to be seen to “do something.”

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