Jenzabar Loses Its Attempt To Suppress Criticism Of Its Founder, A Former Tiananmen Square Activist

from the free-speech,-ftw dept

For a while now, we've been following the highly questionable lawsuit filed by Boston-based software company Jenzabar. You may recall that Jenzabar was founded by Ling Chai, who had been one of the student leaders of the Tiananmen Square protests in China many years ago -- a fact that Jenzabar (which makes software for colleges and universities) likes to play up in its PR. A few years back, the Long Bow Group filmed a documentary about the protests, which included an interview with Chai, that took place before the Chinese government sent tanks in to quell the protests, in which she suggested she was hoping for bloodshed out of the protests, as it would get more attention.

This is the sort of thing that she apparently didn't want people to know about anymore... but since she knew she couldn't sue directly for defamation (after all, she said what she said), she tried to pressure the filmmakers by having her company -- Jenzabar -- sue the filmmakers, claiming that it was defamed, because the filmmakers presented "unfavorable newspaper articles" about the company. That lawsuit got dismissed quickly, and then Chai and Jenzabar made a huge leap, and sued again for trademark infringement, claiming that just mentioning Jenzabar on the filmmaker's webpage -- and specifically using the term "Jenzabar" in the meta tags, was trademark infringement. It seemed rather ironic that someone who played up their role as an activist for democracy and free speech was now misusing trademark law to try to stifle speech.

Last week, thankfully, the court granted summary judgment to the filmmakers, noting that there was no evidence at all that there was any "likelihood of confusion" when someone found the filmmaker's website, that they would somehow think it was endorsed by Jenzabar. As Paul Levy notes in his writeup (linked above):
The timing of the court's rejection of Chai's attack on her critics' free speech could not be more ironic. Chai is in Norway to attend the award of the Nobel Peace prize to fellow Tiananmen Square protest leader Liu Xiaobo.

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  1. identicon
    Bo Peep, 15 Dec 2010 @ 7:04am

    Free Speech

    Student Leader Ling Chai should have listened more carefully as they read the statement fro the Nobel Peace Prize winner (who was also a leader at Tiananmen Square):

    "Freedom of expression is the basis of human rights, the source of humanity and the mother of truth. To block freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, to strangle humanity and to suppress the truth."

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