by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 3rd 2009 2:27pm
Video Savant has sent in the news that St. Louis Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa is suing Twitter, claiming that the company is guilty of trademark infringement, cybersquatting and misappropriation of likeness and name, because someone set up a fake Tony La Russa profile. He claims that he tried to contact the service and was unable to get them to take down the fake profile (which seems odd, since the company has apparently been pretty good about taking down fake accounts upon request). However, when he was unable to do that, he filed the lawsuit. Either way, it's difficult to see the lawsuit going very far. While (tragically) there is no section 230 or DMCA-type safe harbors for trademark, common sense should make it clear that it's not Twitter that's the liable party here (if there's any liability), but whoever created the account. Even then, it's difficult to see this getting very far. The use wasn't "in commerce" which should preclude most trademark claims, and the nature of the fake La Russa tweets suggests that anyone who read them would likely realize that it was a parody of the real La Russa. Still, there was a similar issue recently with Kanye West getting angry over fake users on Twitter -- but it hardly seems like something worth suing about. If the person is so famous, then it's not hard for them to (as West did) point out that the profile is fake, and it shouldn't much matter any more.
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