by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 19th 2007 3:09pm
There really ought to be a term for suing a big company that has absolutely nothing to do with the dispute at hand, just because they have a lot of money. Whenever I hear about such cases they remind me of an old Bloom County comic, where the lawyer character, Steve Dallas, tries to figure out who to sue after the actor Sean Penn beats him up for snapping his photo. In the end, he decides to sue Nikon, the camera maker, for not putting a warning on the cameras... and because it's a big company with lots of money. These "Steve Dallas" cases seem to be hitting Google all too frequently these days. The latest involves the International Information Systems Security Certifications Consortium ("ISC2"), who offers "Certified Information Systems Security Professional," or "CISSP" designations for security professionals. The organization is suing a guy who was, at one time, CISSP certified, but lost it. Rather than just lie about still being certified, the guy started describing himself as a Chief Information Security Systems Practitioner, which just so happens to spell out CISSP. That seems like a pretty clear trademark problem. However, the organization is then also suing both Google and Yahoo, claiming that both are guilty of trademark infringement because Google had some blogs with CISSP in the name and Yahoo had some YahooGroups with CISSP in the name. Unless those groups or blogs are representing themselves as being officially connected to ISC2 or the CISSP program, it's hard to see what the problem is. In fact, it seems clear that a few of the groups are to criticize CISSP, which should be perfectly legal (suggesting that ISC2 is simply trying to silence critics). As Eric Goldman notes in the link above, it's hard to believe that ISC2 stands much of a chance in these lawsuits, but why let that stop you? In the world of Steve Dallas, you always sue the big companies.
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