Last summer, our writer Tim Cushing put together something of an omnibus post of stupid DMCA takedown requests
, none of which probably deserved their own unique post. One of the individuals he highlighted later went on something of a wacky defamatory crusade against Tim, posting blatantly false information about him, and claiming that Techdirt is actually owned by some telecommunications company I'd never even heard of, that is also a patent troll, or something. But now another entity in that very same post has also decided it's upset about the post, and has taken a slightly different strategy.
The company in question is Andromedical, makers of the creatively named "Andropenis," which is (you guessed it) a penis pump. The company appears to do two things aggressively: push a highly questionable "study" claiming its device is effective... and issue questionable takedown demands. Tim was mocking the fact that Andromedical was asking Google to take down results from the competing Bing search engine, but also the fact that it appeared to be promotional images of the product. So, why are we subject to a takedown notice?
BRING ON THE KITCHEN SINK OF LEGAL THREATS!
In what is announced via email as a "DMCA notice," (and sent to a personal email address of mine, rather than our publicly listed DMCA agent email address) is apparently a combination notice of all sorts of things we didn't actually do:
I write on behalf of the Legal Department of Andromedical, S.L. Company, as an Intellectual Property abuse report to your company. This email is part of a Counterfeit Notification to INTERPOL and must be considered as an official Cease and Desist, Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) Notification.
We have detected that your website is using our trademark Andropenis® and our copyrighted images without being licensed to do so. It is illegal to use Intellectual Property (IP) without license in your website, whether or not you are selling the actual device associated to our copyrighted properties. Thus, you are infringing the law by using trademarked and copyrighted properties of Andropenis® without license and without IP rights. Please, proceed to delete immediately the following pages and the images in them from your website:
Yeah, so, first of all, it's a DMCA notice, which covers copyright and not trademark. The fact that we don't have a license is meaningless either way. First of all, we can use the ridiculous Andromedical or Andropenis name as much as we want without violating the trademark, because we're using it in a manner that is clearly descriptive of the product, and not in commerce. It's also not being used in a manner to confuse consumers or dilute the brand. So, just the fact that it suggests merely mentioning the name without a license is infringing is ludicrous and wrong. You're doing trademark law badly.
On the copyright question, we did post an image of some of Andromedical's own promotional images, but in a manner that was clearly fair use. It was part of our news article, explaining Andromedical's abusive DMCA practices, and as part of showing the kinds of images it was taking down, we showed a few thumbnails of those images. This is obviously fair use, so Andromedical can take its DMCA notice and pump it.
Then we get to the whole "Counterfeit Notice to INTERPOL" -- to which I can only say... huh? There's no counterfeiting. We're not selling any products in our post -- legitimate or counterfeit. We're just posting a story about the company, which is perfectly legal to do.
Nevertheless, the company insists that if we don't
take down our article, it will follow through with a list of increasingly aggressive/ridiculous tactics:
You have one week after the reception of this email to delete any and all images of Andromedical and/or Andropenis® products, any and all Andromedical and/or Andropenis® trademarks, and any and all Andromedical and/or Andropenis® information and references from your websites. Legal actions against your company will be stopped if these actions are undertaken. If you fail to do so, our Legal Department will:
- Remove your company’s visibility in GOOGLE, Yahoo and/or other search engines, such as Yahoo! or Bing, via DMCA notices. Please find attached to this email the DMCA notice in question. (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/dmca-notice?rd=1&pli=1&authuser=1 )
- Block your payment gateways via intellectual property abuse reports to your payment processors, VISA, PAYPAL. (http://usa.visa.com/about-visa/our-business/intellectual-property-rights.jsp?ep=v_sym_ReportBrandAbuse, https://www.paypalobjects.com/webstatic/ua/pdf/US/en_US/infringementreport.pdf)
- Contact your web hosting service to have your website removed, as you are infringing their Terms of Service by using their server space for unlawful purposes.
- Contact INTERPOL, as your company is committing an international crime by trafficking in illicit goods and counterfeiting. (http://www.interpol.int/Crime-areas/Trafficking-in-illicit-goods-and-counterfeiting/Trafficking-in-illicit-goods-and-counterfeiting).
Wait, we're "committing an international crime by trafficking in illicit goods and counterfeiting" because we posted a story mocking your stupid DMCA takedown requests... and your response is to send an even stupider and more ridiculous takedown demand
? Yeah, that's not very smart. You're also lying, which may be an issue for you given that the DMCA forbids making false statements in DMCA takedowns.
And, just to be clear: we're not selling any stupid penis pumps, counterfeit or not
. Did you miss that simple fact? I imagine Interpol might wonder why you're wasting their time making false reports.
Also, note that it tells us we have a week to respond before it will do all of this stuff, but according to the Lumen Database, it has already sent a DMCA to Google
falsely claiming that we're infringing on its copyright
Next up, the email lists out the various trademarks in different jurisdictions that the company has -- all of which is totally meaningless and unimportant
because writing about your company is not violating your trademark in any way, shape or form
. That's not how trademark works.
And then the closing:
Andromedical S.L has not signed a valid license contract in this seller’s favor to use the trademarks of Andropenis® or its copyright. The names referred and its images pertain, only and exclusively, to Andromedical S.L.
I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above on the allegedly infringing web pages is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
Eduardo Gomez de Diego
Yeah, that's great. Except, again, we're not selling anything, and we're not violating your trademark or your copyright. Your "good faith belief" is either not in good faith at all, or just wrong. Our use is clearly authorized by the law.
Finally, note that the opening of the email threat said that it was coming from "the Legal Department of Andromedical." So, that would imply that our friend Eduardo Gomez de Diego is a lawyer, no? So, then, why does he show up as a doctor stumping for an Andropenis penis pump
? And the author of the "study"
that claims that Andromedical's penis pump actually "works"?
In summary, I'd argue that Eduardo's legal claims are about as strong as his scientific and medical claims.