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by Mike Masnick
Tue, May 5th 2015 11:26am
For starters, like the bank customer in Miller and the phone customer in Smith, Davis can assert neither ownership nor possession of the third-party’s business records he sought to suppress. Instead, those cell tower records were created by MetroPCS, stored on its own premises, and subject to its control. Cell tower location records do not contain private communications of the subscriber. This type of non-content evidence, lawfully created by a third-party telephone company for legitimate business purposes, does not belong to Davis, even if it concerns him. Like the security camera surveillance images introduced into evidence at his trial, MetroPCS’s cell tower records were not Davis’s to withhold....It dives in a bit deeper on the "expectation of privacy" question and says that no one should have any expectation of privacy in their cell location data, basically saying that you should know that you're giving up such info to a third party who can give it to law enforcement:
More importantly, like the bank customer in Miller and the phone customer in Smith, Davis has no subjective or objective reasonable expectation of privacy in MetroPCS’s business records showing the cell tower locations that wirelessly connected his calls at or near the time of six of the seven robberies.
We find no reason to conclude that cell phone users lack facts about the functions of cell towers or about telephone providers’ recording cell tower usage.Thus, no "expectation" of privacy.
We are asked to decide whether the government’s actions violated Mr. Davis’s Fourth Amendment rights. The majority says our analysis is dictated by the third-party doctrine, a rule the Supreme Court developed almost forty years ago in the context of bank records and telephone numbers. But such an expansive application of the third-party doctrine would allow the government warrantless access not only to where we are at any given time, but also to whom we send e-mails, our search-engine histories, our online dating and shopping records, and by logical extension, our entire online personas.In short, those two judges rightly recognize just how problematic the third party doctrine is. In an age where all our info goes to third parties, the 4th Amendment basically goes away. Later, that same dissent notes:
The majority’s blunt application of the third party doctrine threatens to allow the government access to a staggering amount of information that surely must be protected under the Fourth Amendment. Consider the information that Google gets from users of its e-mail and online search functions. According to its website, Google collects information about you (name, e-mail address, telephone number, and credit card data); the things you do online (what videos you watch, what websites you access, and how you view and interact with advertisements); the devices you use (which particular phone or computer you are searching on); and your actual location.... Like in Miller and Smith, Google even offers a legitimate business purpose for such data storage and mining: “Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection.” Id. Under a plain reading of the majority’s rule, by allowing a third-party company access to our e-mail accounts, the websites we visit, and our search-engine history—all for legitimate business purposes—we give up any privacy interest in that information.Either way, it's pretty clear this issue is heading to the Supreme Court sooner or later (even possibly with this very case). But, for today, this ruling is a pretty big hit against your privacy.
And why stop there? Nearly every website collects information about what we do when we visit. So now, under the majority’s rule, the Fourth Amendment allows the government to know from YouTube.com what we watch, or Facebook.com what we post or whom we “friend,” or Amazon.com what we buy, or Wikipedia.com what we research, or Match.com whom we date—all without a warrant. In fact, the government could ask “cloud”-based file-sharing services like Dropbox or Apple’s iCloud for all the files we relinquish to their servers. I am convinced that most internet users would be shocked by this. But as far as I can tell, every argument the government makes in its brief regarding cell site location data applies equally well to e-mail accounts, search-engine histories, shopping-site purchases, cloud-storage files, and the like.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, May 5th 2015 10:33am
"Do you understand that the maximum penalty for contempt is life imprisonment?"In short, Team Prenda's own lawyer not only seemed completely unprepared and out of his depth in the hearing, he ended up arguing that rather than just pay $250,000, his clients would prefer to face criminal charges with the chance of life in prison (though, admittedly, such a sentence would be highly unlikely). From all indications, all three judges seem prepared to give Team Prenda what their lawyer appeared to be claiming they wanted.
Pregerson: This is going to be written about for years and years, and you're probably going to be part of the story. They all will be. I don't know where this is going to end up. If they really want to have a trial on this... are you sure they want that?And then that leads into this astounding bit of courtroom drama:
Voelker: Absolutely your honor! They want a trial...
Pregerson: Is that what you want?
Voelker: Your honor, what I want is irrelevant. I'm just an appellate attorney. I'm not...
Pregerson: Well, you may be involved in this.
Voelker: I'm sorry your honor?
Pregerson: You may be involved!
Voelker: I don't believe so, your honor, with all due respect. I'm just the attorney.
Pregerson: And you're a great lawyer.Ouch. It appears that Pregerson wasn't joking around either. From Voelker's website:
Voelker: I really appreciate that.
Pregerson: That's what your ad says when you go on the internet, right? I wonder how many "super lawyers" there are in this country?
Voelker: There are a lot of them.
Pregerson: There are a lot of them. And a lot of them is BS too.
I have never seen an oral argument go so badly for an advocate. The judges were immersed in the details of the record and plainly convinced that Prenda was a criminal operation that merited some sort of sanction. They clearly viewed the case not in isolation, but as part of a series of cases involving Prenda across the country — most of which are turning out very badly for Prenda. It seemed clear that they believed that Judge Wright had the power to impose some sort of sanctions, and that the record supported his doing so.I know that many of the Prenda watchers among our readers here keep wondering how it is that Team Prenda is not yet in jail. There are a lot of reasons for that, frankly, but their appeal in the 9th Circuit may actually lead them much closer to being in jail, in part because their own lawyer effectively said that's what they wanted.
by Karl Bode
Tue, May 5th 2015 9:33am
"On Title II, it really hasn't affected the way we have been doing our business or will do our business. We believe on Open Internet and while we don't necessarily agree with the Title II implementation, we conduct our business the same we always have, transparency and nonpaid peering and things like that. I think how it will emerge remains to be seen. We have been flexible in our packaging with HSD. We have invested significantly in our capacity and will continue to do so and that includes both the -- we launched a 2 gigabit speed, 2 gigabit symmetrical speed recently. We are rolling that out across 18 million homes by the end of the year..."Which, again, is odd given the fact that Comcast's participating in a lawsuit where the primary argument is the FCC's new rules are so "arbitrary and capricious," they'll demolish sector investment. If you're playing along at home, Smit's only the latest broadband industry executive to admit that the FCC's rules really won't hurt the sector. Frontier, Cablevision, Sprint, Sonic and even Verizon executives have all said, at one point or another, that the FCC's new neutrality rules aren't going to even dent sector investment.
"At this point in time no changes to our overall philosophy. Obviously, we're going to be watching closely how things unfold on the Title II front. We have said [in] the past that [our] normal business practices comply entirely with the notion of the open Internet. No blocking, no discrimination, no throttling, and transparency are fundamental parts of the way we do business. So to the extent that's the full scope of what gets implemented under Title II, I think you won't see a change in the way we do business. To the extent that something more comes from this, as we would describe it, excessively broad granted authority, then we will have to revisit the way we are approaching investment and pricing.Charter CEO Tom Rutdledge offered a similar sentiment:
"Well, look on the regulatory side, I mean I think every situation is different. Title II was a -- it's actually a longstanding issue. The issue of net neutrality has been around for a long time and companies have been agitating. It's been part of the President's agenda all along, and he campaigned on it initially. So it's not surprising that the forces that prevailed there did. Although I wish it were structured differently and I thought that the outcome was less than ideal, I don't think that is particularly related to being friendly or not friendly to cable in general."And here again we have Comcast not only saying that Title II doesn't hurt them, but proving as much by continuing with an 18 million home fiber deployment that wasn't supposed to be possible under the "innovation chilling" new neutrality regime. So yeah, perhaps cable executives can sit down with their lawyers currently suing the government and compare notes. Because the network investment bogeyman just isn't scary when you consistently admit he's just not real.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, May 5th 2015 8:19am
Summarizing my job, in the spirit of this conference, I think it's fair to say that the IPEC Office is the Executive branch's "creative conscience."First of all... what? The role is enforcement, which has nothing whatsoever to do with actual creativity. In the past, with Marti's predecessor, Victoria Espinel, we often wondered why there was an "enforcement coordinator" at all, since the job title itself was so one-sided. If anything, if we were to go by the Constitutional rationale for copyright and patents, the role should be one in which it looks to see how best to "promote the progress of science and the useful arts." And enforcement is often not the best way to do that. In fact, as we've spent years demonstrating, enforcement can often harm the progress of the science and the useful arts. So it's interesting to see Marti suggest that his role is about being a "creative conscience." For a second, I thought that maybe this meant he'd actually consider what was best for creativity -- meaning all creators, not just the few who were lucky enough to be selected by the large legacy gatekeepers. But, no, as you'll quickly learn, by "creative conscience" he actually means "protector of a few legacy gatekeepers who often screw over actual creators."
Part of my job is to make sure that the administration keeps the impact on creativity top of mind when it adopts policies, makes decisions, and takes action.Again, that's good if we're talking about actual creativity and all creators. But... he's not.
I'm also responsible for helping marshal the federal government's resources to help combat violations of intellectual property. Put simply, my office is dedicated to the protection of the American intellectual property system that helps drive our national economy.And there we go, right off the tracks. He is focused on protecting the existing system -- even when it is shown to harm creativity, free expression and innovation. That's a problem. Maybe he didn't really mean that? Nope, he means it:
Let there be no mistake and no misunderstanding. Intellectual property is an integral part of the US economy. We're speaking of the spark of genius and the ideas behind transformative inventions, the artistry that goes into books, music and film. The trade secrets that preserve a company's market edge. Or the brands that distinguish our companies and their goods and services.Already, he's making the cardinal sin of talking about intellectual property that we were just discussing: conflating the "property" piece with the underlying aspect of it. The spark of genius is not intellectual property. The ideas are not intellectual property. The artistry is not intellectual property. The brands are not intellectual property. The specific copyright, patents and trademarks may be property-like entities, but those are not the same thing as the underlying content, inventions or brands. As we noted in our piece about confusing those things, when you do that, your policy suggestions are going to be really, really bad. And you're going to make really silly statements like Marti does next:
Intellectual property helps create marketplaces that help drive economies, domestically and internationally. For example, the "core copyright industries" -- those whose primary purpose is to create, produce, distribute, or exhibit copyrighted materials -- added more than $1 trillion to gross domestic product and created and supported millions of jobs.That's not true. We've gone through these numbers in the past, and shown how they're simply misleading and no one should be using them to make a serious point. They very broadly define the "core copyright industries" such that any industry that gets copyrights is determined to exist only because of copyright law. And that includes software firms that thrive on giving away services for free and that don't actually rely on their copyrights for anything. Besides, if you want to compare apples to apples, the IIPA who does the study that Marti is relying on, has shown that the "core copyright industry" isn't contributing nearly as much to the economy or economic growth as the internet economy is, and the internet economy is frequently held back by bad copyright laws.
Intellectual property-based industries are among the U.S.'s strongest exporters.Well, sure, that's true if you argue that any company with a brand is an "intellectual property-based business," but that kind of thinking takes you down the path of arguing that grocery stores are an intellectual property miracle that only exist thanks to trademark law. And that's plainly ridiculous.
Overall, IP industries accounted for over 60% -- Six Zero -- of US exports.Yes, but no one actually believes any of that is because of intellectual property laws, unless you conflate those laws with the underlying things, like brands.
The recorded music, motion picture, television and video, and software publishing businesses, for example, contributed to sales in foreign markets exceeding $156 billion dollars.And how much of that is because of copyright law -- and how much of it is because it's content that people find valuable enough to purchase? Marti just ignores the distinction and lumps it all in because of copyright. Also, note, for someone who claims he's focused entirely on being the "creative conscience," his actual focus appears to be almost entirely on the commercial side of the creative ledger.
That is why it's so important to understand and protect IP, to foster legitimate trade, and to open foreign markets to US creative content.That last one is a "I work for the President and need to give my shout out to the TPP and TTIP agreements" talking point. But, really, what did he say before that shows why it's "so important to understand and protect IP"? Frankly, I don't see anything. He talked a lot about big numbers, but nowhere did he show why strong intellectual property laws made those things possible. And nowhere did he consider that, maybe (just maybe) weaker IP laws may have actually enabled larger markets, or more creativity. That kind of thinking doesn't even enter the equation, which is kind of odd if you're positioning yourself as the "creative conscience."
The timing of today's event is fitting. Sunday is World Intellectual Property Day -- a global celebration of the role of intellectual property, of innovation, of creativity, in our daily lives.Is it? Really? No, "World Intellectual Property Day" is a celebration of the legacy gatekeepers that take the copyrights of actual creative people, and push for expanding those laws with no thoughts towards the actual impact on creativity. And the creativity "in our daily lives" is frequently done without the use of intellectual property laws -- and, all too frequently, conflicts with those laws.
This year's theme is "Get Up, Stand Up. For Music" invoking Bob Marley and Peter Tosh's tune, to illustrate how song can serve as a call to action.... Bob Marley's song serves as an endearing, international anthem for human rights. Let us tap into this spirit, this call to action, to speak up for artistic communities, the world over.Right. Like, remember that time that Bob Marley's family tried to reclaim the copyrights to two of his albums, including "Burnin'" where "Get Up, Stand Up" first was released? And remember how Universal Music fought that and won, so that Universal Music got to keep the copyright, as opposed to the Marley family? Thank goodness Universal still holds the copyright, or perhaps they would have had to pay Marley's family for the right to use that theme for this year's "World Intellectual Property Day," right?
Let us stand up for art. Let us stand up for the artist. Let us stand up to respect the artist's right to make a living off of his or her artistic labor.Yes, unless you're Bob Marley's family. Then let us stand up for Universal Music's right to go to court to block the Marley family from that right! Or, unless you're a remix artist creating wonderful new songs by building on the works of the past.
And let us stand up to forcefully reject those who believe that the theft of one's creative output is somehow acceptable. It is not.Of course, we're back to the misleading use of "theft." Do we consider what UMG did to Bob Marley's estate "theft"? Someone should ask Marti. Does he consider Pharrell and Robin Thicke writing a song with a similar "feel" to a Marvin Gaye song as "theft"? Does he consider a woman posting a 30-second video of her child dancing to a Prince song "theft"? Does he consider artists like Kutiman as theft? Does he consider artists like Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan -- many of whose greatest works where near note-for-note replicas of others' songs -- engaged in theft?
When we speak of the role of creativity in our lives, we're also speaking about human expression, building communities. The sharing of stories -- whether through print, music or film -- brings people together, fosters discussion, builds bridges and helps create common identity.Of course, if that "discussion" or "common identity" strays too far, such as in creating a derivative work, that may be seen as infringement (or in Marti's world "theft") and thus he will "marshal the forces of the federal government" to bring you down. All in an effort to protect the glorious markets of the creative conscience.
Our digital lives have only helped to accelerate these discussions, bringing people together and bringing their stories closer.And, because of that, the US government has been actively shutting down websites where those discussions happen and pushing for laws to throw the operators of the websites in jail.
And in order to further that, we must strive to build not only an open internet, but a safe, secure and stable one.In other words, not really an open internet. But one that is limited and controlled by multinational gatekeepers. Either way... I feel that we're rapidly approaching the administration's favorite buzzword. I know it's coming, I just know it... and...
One way the administration is seeking to do just that is by fostering multistakeholder processes in which all participants in the ecosystem -- government, the private sector, and civil society -- can play a role in encouraging positive internet behavior and marginalizing anti-social and, indeed, criminal behavior.Multistakeholder! Bingo! What do I win? Oh, someone now arguing that rather than encouraging freedom of expression and an open internet, we should try to look for ways to stamp out "anti-social behavior" online. Hmm. Anti-social behavior? Wouldn't that bar songs like "Get Up, Stand Up" that could be seen as "anti-social" in encouraging the public to stand up for their own rights when they are being taken away from them by their government? Rights like freedom of expression?
Protecting and advancing a community starts with action by its members. We need to stand up for what is good and reject what is unfair.I think freedom of expression is good. I think shutting down websites that were blogging about music is unfair. I think that supporting programs for site blocking, that take down free speech, is unfair. I think a system that prioritizes the ability of large multinationals to block innovation is "unfair." Yet, these all seem to be things that IPEC supports.
Stakeholder responsibility will create an environment conducive to creativity.Let me translate this for you: "Search engines should start censoring sites that the MPAA dubs "unfair" because they challenge the MPAA's business model."
It will benefit those who make a living producing creative works.Unless, like Dan Bull (who makes his living producing creative works), you relied on sites like Megaupload to distribute those works and the US government shut it down.
It will benefit those who enjoy those works.Unless you no longer have access to them, thanks to US courts censoring them.
Respecting IP not only encourages creativity, it also promotes the technologies for communicating that creativity. This bears repeating. Respecting IP not only encourages creativity, it also promotes the technologies for communicating that creativity.How? This is a serious question, but I'd like someone to answer it, because history doesn't come even remotely close to supporting that claim as can be seen by Marti's next ridiculous statement:
The desire to tell stories to even wider audiences in even more vivid ways, has a long chain of technological innovation, creating new industries along the way. From printing, to radio, to film and television, and now, of course, the internet economy.And each and every single one of those was decried initially by the legacy forces -- the gatekeepers who controlled the previous industries. The printing press was in a time before copyright, but obviously shook the very foundations of society by helping to break it out from Church control. The radio resulted in a massive legal fight as the record labels tried to kill it in its early days. The film industry moved to Hollywood to avoid enforcement of the patents of Thomas Edison, and often relied on copyrighting the innovations of others in the industry. When television came along, the film industry also freaked out and tried to hamper it -- especially innovations like the VCR. And, of course, the internet. We've had lawsuits against search engines, video platforms, MP3 players, book indexes and more. If we "respected" IP in the terms of the legacy gatekeepers, we'd have none of those innovations.
by Karl Bode
Tue, May 5th 2015 6:16am
"Some may argue for an extreme definition of net neutrality that says that it’s somehow wrong to offer any more services to support the unconnected, but a reasonable definition of net neutrality is more inclusive. Access equals opportunity. Net neutrality should not prevent access."Except declaring zero rating to be a core net neutrality violation is far from extreme. The governments of Canada, The Netherlands, Norway, Chile, Slovenia, Estonia, Japan, Finland and now potentially India have all passed neutrality rules banning zero rating of apps. Realizing that zero rating makes life more difficult for smaller companies, independents and non-profits isn't extreme, it's common sense. Even with Internet.org's new, wider walled garden gateway, you've still got Facebook declaring what is or what isn't "acceptable content," which by its very nature runs in stark contrast to the definition of net neutrality.
"Are we a community that values people and improving people’s lives above all else, or are we a community that puts the intellectual purity of technology above people’s needs?"That's numerous times over the last few months where Zuckerberg has implied that if you're opposed to zero rating and Facebook's vision of a new Compuserve for developing nations, you're opposed to helping the poor. That's simply disingenuous and obnoxious. Nothing about opposing zero rating "prevents access," and nobody is stopping Facebook or Internet.org from funding discounted access to the real Internet. Zuckerberg's basically cementing his company's gatekeeper authority over developing nations for generations to come under the bright banner of selfless altruism, then taking offense when told that these countries might just be better off with un-apertured, subsidized access to the real Internet.
by Tim Cushing
Tue, May 5th 2015 4:09am
The New York Times' recent coverage of the fallout from a targeted drone strike that took out two hostages -- one American, along with the suspected terrorist -- contained a detail missing from many other new outlets' coverage of the same incident: Michael D'Andrea.
D'Andrea is the "architect" behind the CIA's targeted strike program. D'Andrea's name had never been previously published by a major news source (although it had been outed elsewhere). The Washington Post -- in its pre-Snowden leak days -- featured a long profile of the chain-smoking Islam convert that included several personally-identifiable details about D'Andrea… but not his name.
Unfortunately, the Post's experience with Snowden didn't affect its stance on the publication of this official's name. Perhaps still too reliant on government assertions that naming D'Andrea would increase the risk of him being targeted by terrorists, the Post left his name out of a more recent article on his reassignment as part of a CIA reorganization.
The Post and the New York Times have both published leaked documents and both have become less willing to oblige obfuscatory requests by government officials over this time period. New York Time's executive editor Dean Baquet explained his paper's decision to publish D'Andrea's name this way:
Baquet said the Times would not reveal names in a gratuitous way, but Sunday's drone story demanded it.Accountability is key. As long as journalistic operations continue to allow the government to decide whose names are printed, accountability will remain nothing more than an ideal towards which the government would prefer not to stride. The Post's decision to defer to government officials in its March story about D'Andrea is "explained" by a couple of sentences that could have been copied directly from an (unnamed) official's email.
“The whole story was about accountability,” he said. “In a story about accountability, how could you not mention the guys who run the program?”
Because he remains undercover, The Washington Post has agreed to withhold his full name. He has been publicly identified in the past by both his actual first name, Mike, as well as that of his CIA-created identity, Roger.But leaders of the CIA's counterterrorism programs aren't "undercover" by default. As Gawker points out, previous occupants of D'Andrea's position weren't exactly concerned about exposure "risks."
D'Andrea's predecessor at the counterterrorism center was also treated as an undercover operative, but the position has historically been occupied by real, named senior government officials. The center's founding director was Duane "Dewey" Clarridge, a man who is not afraid of talking to reporters. Cofer Black, who ran the center during and after 9/11, was repeatedly named as such in the Post and trades on the experience to market himself as a paid speaker. Robert Grenier, who has also been named by the Post, highlighted the gig on the cover of his book.D'Andrea wasn't (and isn't) an operative working in CIA field operations. He's an official (or was until recently) with the power to order drone strikes on foreign soil without even needing to verify the identities of those he's sentencing to death. That's too much power to hand over to someone who can't be held accountable -- not even in the most minimal fashion -- by the American public. These strikes have resulted in the death of several civilians, at least in part because D'Andrea sought -- and obtained -- permission to bypass the supposed "rules" of targeted drone strikes. When something goes wrong -- and it will -- there needs to be someone at the top of the line, known to the public, who should answer for it.
When Times reporter Matt Apuzzo, who co-wrote the CIA drone story, appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” co-host Mika Brzezinski signaled at the start that the segment wouldn’t veer into the agents’ identities.By doing this, these outlets are no better than the government they're protecting. Our intelligence agencies and various law enforcement counterparts still believe there's a way to retroactively apply secrecy to information already in the public domain. MSNBC's refusal to name names is no different than the DOJ claiming that documents it wants to keep secret are still secret simply because the order to hand them over to the public didn't originate from the DOJ itself.
“There’s a couple of different angles on this story,” Brzezinski said. "We’re going to not name names here.”
by Glyn Moody
Tue, May 5th 2015 1:04am
Techdirt has covered its fair share of idiotic legal threats over trademarks, but the following example is spectacular even for a field that has many superb examples of corporate bullying. It concerns the village of Copthorne (population 5,000), in the English county of West Sussex. It's rather well established: it's been around for a thousand years, and is mentioned in the Domesday Book, which was compiled in 1086. Recently, though, its village association was threatened with legal action for using the name 'Copthorne' on its Web site, as the Plymouth Herald newspaper reports:
A residents' association in the village of Copthorne was threatened with legal action by a multinational hotel chain founded there -- for using the name Copthorne.
As that notes, the hotel chain took its name from the village where it was founded. But there's no sign of gratitude for that in the threatening letter the residents' association received from Millennium & Copthorne International Limited (MCIL), which owns 33 hotels around the world:
Brand protection officers acting on behalf of Copthorne Hotels, which has a large hotel in Plymouth, wrote to the small local group -- saying it was infringing its trademark.
It has come to our attention that you have registered, without MCIL's permission or authorization, the domain name [copthornevillage.org], which includes a protected trademark of MCIL. This unauthorized use of MCIL's intellectual property falsely suggests MCIL's association with or endorsement of your website and is likely to cause confusion in the minds of the public that the website is associated with or connected to MCIL and the products and services offered by Millennium Hotels & Resorts. As a result, substantial damage is likely to occur to the goodwill and reputation of these trademarks.
After the village group sent off a "strongly-worded letter" mentioning its millennial history, that threat was rescinded. Millennium and Copthorne communications advisor Peter Krijgsman is quoted by the Plymouth Herald as saying:
We require that you immediately disable all content hosted at copthornevillage.org and allow the domain name to expire. Please confirm by return that you have done so within five (5) working days of the date of this letter.
"I can now confirm the 'cease and desist' letter sent to the Copthorne Village Association was sent in error in the course of an exercise carried out by Mark Monitor, a brand monitoring/protection agency.
The "sent in error in the course of an exercise" excuse sounds rather unlikely; this is surely yet another example of legal threats being fired off without even looking at the facts of the case, something that happens all-too-often in the world of trademarks. At least the company concerned admitted the error and apologized -- something that by contrast happens all-too-rarely.
"Mark Monitor will be contacting the administrator of the Copthorne Village Association website to explain this and to apologise for any inconvenience."
Mon, May 4th 2015 9:06pm
The Virgin Group, headed up by Richard Branson, has something of a reputation for being promiscuous when it comes to trademark disputes over the word "Virgin." At times, it seems like whatever lawyers are working for Virgin actually think that any business using the word needs a bit of slapping around, even when there is essentially zero chance of customer confusion. In one case, in which Virgin had targeted a small jeans maker called I Am Not A Virgin out of NYC, the founder of that company quipped in a video whether or not Branson would think that people walking by "Extra Virgin Olive Oil" would be confused into thinking that Virgin Group had something to do with it.
Hahahahahaha... Oh, shit. It turns out Branson does think that's the case. Well, sort of.
[Virgin Group] believes customers might get confused and associate Vasse Virgin products with its renowned global brand. The local company has 23 staff and produces olive oil-based food, soap and skin-care products. Co-owner Edwina Scherini said Vasse Virgin recently tried to register a logo using the same name since 2009.Yes, a tiny Autralian olive oil company is now in a trademark dispute with the Virgin Group and we all have to watch what we say from now on, lest we give Mr. Branson any ideas. Now Virgin Group claims on the record that the two companies do indeed compete with one another within relevant industries that would be covered by the trademark, but I can't for the life of me figure out where that's the case. Looking through some information on what Virgin makes, I don't find foodstuffs or olive oil making the list. Regardless, I find it fairly unlikely that anyone is going to confuse Vasse Virgin's oils with something created by the enormous Virgin Group, considering there are no common features in the logos or the marks themselves, beyond the use of the word Virgin. Couple that with Virgin's reputation for being overly protective, and this seems to reek of a legal department with too much time on its hands.
"The Virgin Group has objected to the application, claiming the right to exclusive use of the word 'virgin'," she said.
Virgin Group Asia Pacific brand public relations and digital communications manager Elizabeth Gain said the trademark application "covers a very broad range of goods and services, some of which fall squarely into the core activities of the Virgin Group, in particular transportation services".If that were the case, the whole dispute could be easily dismissed with Vasse Virgin assuring everyone that they didn't have enough time in between making olive oil containers to create an international airline. That doesn't seem to be the case, though, as the demands from Virgin Group have been numerous.
"Our concerns do not relate to use of the name in connection with olive oil products," she said.
Mrs Scherini said lawyers for the two companies have discussed the matter since 2013.Branson and his team bullying a small, unrelated business through trademark? I am so shocked!
"Vasse Virgin agreed to a number of demands, apart from one that we felt may have the capacity to cause serious damage to our business in the future," she said. Mrs Scherini said the process had been "extremely stressful" emotionally and financially.
by Michael Ho
Mon, May 4th 2015 5:00pm
Explore some core concepts:
|15:37||European Court To Explore If Linking To Infringing Material Is Infringing (17)|
|14:32||DOJ Apparently Last To Know About Widespread Stingray Usage/Secrecy; Vows To Look Into It (17)|
|13:34||House Refuses To Consider USA Freedom Amendment Stopping NSA's Backdoor Searches... Even As Everyone Supports It (9)|
|12:34||Apple Trying To Kill Off Spotify's Free Tier; DOJ Now Investigating For Antitrust (86)|
|12:32||Daily Deals: May The Fourth Be With You Gamer Bundle (2)|
|11:37||How To Use ‘Intellectual Property’ Properly (90)|
|10:32||Court Issues Highly Questionable Restraining Order Over Anyone Even Remotely Related To Streaming Mayweather/Pacquiao Fight (31)|
|09:32||Court Rejects Pennsylvania's Ridiculous Law That Takes Away First Amendment For Convicts (25)|
|08:10||US Presidential Election Is So Corrupt Even The Person In Charge Says She Has No Power To Stop Abuse (70)|
|06:06||Forget, Mayweather v. Pacquaio: The Big Fight Was Apparently Hollywood v. Periscope Streaming (60)|
|03:59||And Another One Bites The Dust: Mass Surveillance Ruled Unconstitutional In Slovak Republic (13)|
|12:00||Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt (22)|
|12:00||This Week In Techdirt History: April 26th - May 2nd (1)|
|09:00||Awesome Stuff: The Modular Smartphone... Case (2)|
|19:39||Patent Reform Bill A Good Step, But Still Falls Way Short Of Fixing A Broken System (6)|
|18:36||FBI Hands Over 5000 Pages Of Stingray Info To MuckRock, Redacts Nearly All Of It (28)|
|17:00||DailyDirt: Drink No Wine Before It's Time? (10)|
|16:12||Connecticut Gets Tired Of Waiting For State's Regional Broadband Duopoly, Starts Pushing Gigabit Networks (25)|
|14:35||USTR Releases Its Annual Special 301 'Naughty' List Of Countries; EFF Responds With 'Special 404' List (15)|
|13:13||California Assembly Moves Forward With Idiotic Plan To Make All Bitcoin Startups Apply For A License (15)|
|12:11||AT&T Fined Yet Again For Shady Behavior, This Time For Milking Low-Income Lifeline Program (7)|
|12:06||Daily Deals: Free: 'The 4-Hour Chef' Audiobook (4)|
|10:50||Tidal's Failure: A Reminder To Musicians That It's Not Easy To Build A Successful Streaming Service (18)|
|09:38||Who Pays When The DEA Destroys Your Vehicle And Kills Your Employee During A Botched Sting? Hint: Not The DEA (117)|
|08:17||Fair Use At Risk When Private Companies Get To Make The Decision For Us (40)|
|06:16||That 20 Mbps Broadband Line We Promised? It's Actually 300 Kbps. Enjoy! (58)|
|04:15||ESPN & NFL Network Still Pretending Twitter Doesn't Exist During NFL Draft (13)|
|01:10||The Great Database of China: Rating Moral Behavior, Blacklisting Citizens (16)|
|21:05||Fanboy Fight: How One Apple/Android Argument Ended In A Stabbing (39)|
|17:00||DailyDirt: Time, Time, Time. See What's Become Of.. (16)|