by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 26th 2012 10:38am
Every time you think that lawyers may have finally caught on to the fact that sending out ridiculous cease and desist letters to silence things they don't like will backfire on them, you hear of yet another case of it happening. This time it's tobacco giant Philip Morris, who sent a cease & desist letter to artist Brad Troemel for some artwork he had up on his Etsy page. He had two different pieces for sale on Etsy, each involving a Marlboro box. One of them is still up. It's the "dean & deluca low calorie snack inside Marlboro box w/ Cerebral Palsy Tissue/Organ Kidney Cancer Green Ribbon Glittery Sticker (Ethical) 1/2" (catchy name):
According to the genius lawyers at Philip Morris, consumers seeing this are going to be confused into believing that Philip Morris is actually endorsing the product. Because, apparently, Philip Morris believes its consumers are complete morons who can't understand art-as-social-commentary.
This reminds me of Louis Vuitton's similar trademark bullying to shut down art exhibits critical of its products. Trademark bullying to stifle criticism isn't new, but it's pretty ridiculous. The end result, of course, is that Troemel's work -- and the commentary on the original products -- will now get that much more attention due to PM's crazy attempt to make it go away.
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