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Activists May Use Their Targets' Trademarks

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the small-mercies dept.

The Courts 203

lee1 writes "Sometimes political activists use a company's trademark as part of a campaign to embarrass it or call attention to an issue. And sometimes the company sues, claiming that they own the mark and its satirical use is prohibited. Now a Utah court has ruled that such suits must fail because the parodic use of the mark is not commercial and is a form of protected speech."

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hmmm. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36087706)

a non-embarrassing utah story?

Re:hmmm. (3, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087806)

Don't worry. I'm sure the judge has twelve wives and seventy children under the age of 18.

Re:hmmm. (1, Troll)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087840)

Hmmm, touchy Mormon with mod points.

Re:hmmm. (1, Offtopic)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087946)

You were modded off topic, not Troll/Flamebait

Re:hmmm. (0)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087960)

Pah, that's only at the moment. Initially I was just troll, but someone found me funny, and, as of 2:56 Pacific, I've been modded down as offtopic. But the message is still afloat, folks! Bad taste reigns supreme... SUUUU-PREME!

Re:hmmm. (0)

shadowknot (853491) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088120)

I don't care about bad taste jokes, being a South Park fan, but get your facts straight if you're going to make a joke. Plural Marriage has been banned in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1890 [wikipedia.org] and those choosing to ignore this ban (very rare) are subject to excommunication.

Re:hmmm. (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088458)

I don't care about bad taste jokes, being a South Park fan, but get your facts straight if you're going to make a joke. Plural Marriage has been banned in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1890 [wikipedia.org] and those choosing to ignore this ban (very rare) are subject to excommunication.

wink wink nudge nudge

Re:hmmm. (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088752)

I don't care about bad taste jokes, being a South Park fan, but get your facts straight if you're going to make a joke. Plural Marriage has been banned in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1890 [wikipedia.org] and those choosing to ignore this ban (very rare) are subject to excommunication.

wink wink nudge nudge

Say no more.

That's okay as long as (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087950)

the wives were each at least 18 when they married him.

*cue touchy FLDS member with mod points*

Re:hmmm. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088192)

And if he wants to, a mistress and a pet goat he blows every night.

As long as he metes out sensible judgements, he's still a good judge in my books.

Re:hmmm. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088750)

Don't worry. I'm sure the judge has twelve wives and seventy children under the age of 18.

Wow. Twelve wives under the age of 18? That's pretty impressive....

But enough about why commas can sometimes be useful for adding clarity. I'm wondering what impact this decision will have with regards to the URS process discussion.

Also (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087712)

The companies in question should be forced to accept arbitration instead of lawsuits.

Re:Also (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36087850)

Arbitration panels are always packed with industry insiders. How will this hurt the companies in question?

Re:Also (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087864)

Simple. You stack the panels with consumer advocates with baseball bats.

Re:Also (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088646)

Um, yeah. When a company is caught issuing a SLAPP, and the case is dismissed, the only logical course is to insist that a private company replace the court. That's real justice, Koch style.

Re:Also (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088674)

So the People Eating Tasty Animals satire site for PETA should not have been sued to oblivion then?
Or does this ruling depend on whether you like the plaintiff or defendant more?

A big victory... (2)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087714)

..for free speech. I completely shocked that this came out of Utah.

Re:A big victory... (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087726)

Im shocked it came out of a US court at all.

Re:A big victory... (5, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087740)

Im shocked it came out of a US court at all.

You may not have to endure that shock for long.
An appeal may be forthcoming, with a properly prepped judge.

Re:A big victory... (2)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087766)

That seems to be more in line with our bought and paid for legal system, especially in Utah of all places

Re:A big victory... (1, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087810)

Where's all this Utah hate coming from? I spent a year there, and didn't think the culture was any different from any other US state (except possibly california).

Re:A big victory... (5, Informative)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087952)

The culture is extremely different. You could make a plausible case that the state was founded as a theocracy, and that those roots are still very much there.

Just note the state's rules on alcohol.

The state has no open-door saloons. Full liquor service is available only to dues-paying members of "private" social clubs or at the 470 restaurants with liquor stocks they cannot advertise, display or even mention unless a customer asks first.

The state's 121 taverns can pour only "light" beer, or 3.2 percent alcohol, and no other alcoholic drinks. No membership is required at taverns. Grocery stores can sell only light beer, too.

Wine, hard liquor and heavy beer can be purchased at 36 state-run liquor stores - if you can find them. Typically they are tucked away in warehouse districts and off major thoroughfares.

A quota limits the number of private clubs to one per 7,000 Utah residents, or 295 clubs concentrated primarily in Salt Lake County and Park City. Minimum club dues by law are $12 a year, though visitors can buy a two-week membership for $5. Or visitors can ask the guy on the next barstool to sponsor them as guests.

I grew up in the bible belt and WE weren't even that strict.

Some parts of the Bible Belt are stricter (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087962)

In some counties in the Bible Belt there are no legal alcohol sales at all, except perhaps private clubs.

Re:Some parts of the Bible Belt are stricter (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088022)

Correct. I live in a "dry county". Driving across county or state lines is an invitation for the cops to pull you over for a search. Then you have the hassle of explaining to them that you have a legal right NOT to be searched, they threaten to call in a K-9 dog, sometimes they are serious about the dog, sometimes not - but whatever, it wastes an honest citizen's time.

Arkansas had a drive going a few years back to change all the dry counties to wet, with the rationale that forcing people to drive 15 or 50 or more miles to buy their booze is an invitation to drive drunk on the way home. I guess that was pre-9/11 - today governments in general are more intent on stripping people of rights.

Re:Some parts of the Bible Belt are stricter (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088054)

I was thinking states, but yes some counties are dry. I should have worded that better.

Last I heard Jack Daniels is made in a dry county.
A dry county is different from an almost dry state. You can cross the county line and go get booze. In Utah there is only 36 places in the entire state where you can purchase anything harder then a 3.2% beer.

Re:Some parts of the Bible Belt are stricter (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088312)

Last I heard Jack Daniels is made in a dry county.

You heard correctly. But they have distillery tours anyway :)

Re:A big victory... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088074)

And a theocracy would want to protect the interests of big business because... ?

Re:A big victory... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088232)

I guess the conflation of bible thumping and big business comes from rolling them into one party.

Re:A big victory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088280)

I think I could think of a few things mormons and apple fanbois have in common.

Re:A big victory... (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088580)

And a theocracy would want to protect the interests of big business because... ?

Because they're run by the same damn people? Controlling the prols and sucking down their money is a common goal...

Re:A big victory... (1)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088258)

It's a bit of a straw man to point out Utah's liquor laws. Alcohol has nothing to do with free speech. In any case, Utah has opened up a lot recently with its alcohol practices.

Re:A big victory... (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088336)

I was pointing out that the culture is extremely different then the rest of the country.

Are you saying its not?

Re:A big victory... (1)

Zephyn (415698) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088428)

Alcohol has nothing to do with free speech.

I disagree. Alcohol often makes speech much freer than the speaker would prefer.

Re:A big victory... (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087966)

I spent a year there, and didn't think the culture was any different from any other US state...

Then you weren't paying attention. I spent ten months there... it was the longest ten years of my life! Ba dum shhhh!

Re:A big victory... (5, Informative)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088106)

My father grew up in a small mining town in Utah. His family was not Mormon, and it made life much harder than it needed to be. My grandpa, uncle, and father were passed over for promotion, harassed, excluded, refused service at businesses, charged extortionate prices for services such as funerals, contractors, automobile repair, etc.

They were pressured to join the Mormon church. The relatives I have who stayed there all caved in and now toe the line. They gripe and mock in private, but they go to meetings and tithe.

It is better in SLC (or as I've seen it humorously abbreviated SL,UT) - it is easy for tourists or short term visitors to forget they are in the beehive state. Things take a darker turn if you are perceived as wanting to become a permanent resident.

Re:A big victory... (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087774)

And then the losers can appeal all the way to the USSC where it's anyones guess what'll happen.

Re:A big victory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088182)

Since it's not /. without a pedantic nitpick, the usual acronym is SCOTUS.

Re:A big victory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088256)

Of course, some fancy footwork and you can work the R in CouRt into that abbreviation ;)

Re:A big victory... (0)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087884)

This is not about free speech. The companies MUST file a law suit, because otherwise they loose their trademark.

This has nothing to do with satirical or political or whatever. If they don't sue or at least protest,they loose the trademark.

Re:A big victory... (0)

dev.null.matt (2020578) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087916)

Re:A big victory... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088316)

Re:A big victory... (1)

OldSoldier (168889) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088596)

The loose lose misspelling, much as it irritates me, is understandable because of pronounciation. Consider

chose - choose
lose - loose.

Of the above, choose rhymes with lose, so I can certainly appreciate why people think choose rhymes with loose.

Perhaps if we had more moose around people would spell this correctly (moose rhymes with loose, but not choose)

Re:A big victory... (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088964)

Nah, I agree with the Oatmeal and (elsewhere the Angry Flower.)

We need to quit mis-spelling those top ten words ... on a tech site... which specializes in syntax structures.

Let's get this straight, now.

Lose. All the glorious things you can think of to lose.

LOOse is ... Goatse.

Re:A big victory... (1)

OldSoldier (168889) | more than 3 years ago | (#36089042)

Oh, I'm not EXCUSING it, I'm merely suggesting that the Oatmeal strategy may fail when there's other forces pushing people to misspelling. IDENTIFYING those additional reasons may ALSO help stop people from misspelling it.

loose choose moose

Re:A big victory... (2, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088018)

Uh, no. You are simply wrong about this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_mark#Maintaining_rights [wikipedia.org]

You loose.

Re:A big victory... (1)

maztuhblastah (745586) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088362)

You loose.

He's tight. You lose.

Re:A big victory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088892)

You loose.

IBS?

Re:A big victory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088896)

No, you are loose!

Re:A big victory... (1, Informative)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088046)

No they won't. It may be diluted, but using it in satire is not the equivalent of taking it for your own use. The trademark stays theirs.

Re:A big victory... (4, Informative)

careysub (976506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088078)

This is not about free speech. The companies MUST file a law suit, because otherwise they loose their trademark.

This has nothing to do with satirical or political or whatever. If they don't sue or at least protest,they loose the trademark.

Nope.

Overview of Trademark Law [harvard.edu] : "The standard is "likelihood of confusion." To be more specific, the use of a trademark in connection with the sale of a good constitutes infringement if it is likely to cause consumer confusion as to the source of those goods or as to the sponsorship or approval of such goods. In deciding whether consumers are likely to be confused, the courts will typically look to a number of factors, including: (1) the strength of the mark; (2) the proximity of the goods; (3) the similarity of the marks; (4) evidence of actual confusion; (5) the similarity of marketing channels used; (6) the degree of caution exercised by the typical purchaser; (7) the defendant's intent."

So - unless the political activists are trying to sell a similar product or service that will confuse consumers then it cannot infringe, and the companies filing the suits know that very, very well.

You are just trying to justify a sub-class of SLAPP suits: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_lawsuit_against_public_participation [wikipedia.org] .

Re:A big victory... (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088098)

This is about free speech, and is not the process through which a trademark is genericized. If I sell tissues as a "box of kleenex's" and Kimberly-Clark doesn't do anything about, then there is a real risk of genericide, and KC is compelled to act.

Re:A big victory... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088266)

Not really. They only have to if their trademark is being used as a generic term (Xerox comes to mind) or someone uses their trademark. Satirical speech has never been grounds for losing your trademark.

If, say, oil spilled on an ocean would be called "bee pee" and that entered colloquial speech, a certain company might be pressured to sue...

Re:A big victory... (1)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088230)

Then you don't know Utah. Utah is one of the strongest supporters of free speech.

poppycock. (0, Redundant)

SeNtM (965176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087772)

I'm pretty sure Bush abolished free speech.

Re:poppycock. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088028)

And I'm sure Obama is fighting to uphold it.

Re:poppycock. (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088166)

Unless you say something un-flattering about Michelle.

Somehow... (1)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087776)

...I doubt that ICANN [slashdot.org] is going to be taking this ruling into account in deciding a company can take your domain away, and are willing to pay ICANN $300 to assert a trademark.

Ryan Fenton

PETA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36087786)

I wonder if the guy who lost PETA.org (People Eating Tasty Animals) to the other PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) can regain his domain name based on this ruling.

In related news, the makers of pita bread are suing the Internet for the unfortunate acronym PITA (Pain In The A$$)

Re:PETA (4, Funny)

TheABomb (180342) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087828)

The National Association of Marlon Brando Look-Alikes is already working on its appeal.

Re:PETA (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088286)

Ever ate that stuff? I tell you, when you sit on the can, you KNOW that this acronym is apt!

Re:PETA (2)

porges (58715) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088984)

You have a digestive issue with pita bread? It's bread. Perhaps you meants to joke about some other food?

This could get interesting (2)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087788)

I can't wait for the BigCoSucks Federation* (*funded by Mega Incorporated) and MegaIncSuxx2** (**funded by Big Company) duke it out.

===
Any resemblance between Big Company and Mega Incorporated and any real entity is purely satirical and is not intended for commercial purposes. My lawyer made me say that.

Finally! (3, Funny)

davidiii (1983894) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087792)

On behalf of Exxon/Mobil, I'd just like to say that it's about god damn time.

For the People (1)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087794)

I'm sure this didn't have any corporate involvement at all. It was definitely to protect the rights of the people.

Re:For the People (2)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087874)

Big Satire has a huge lobbing division and many offices in DC.

Re:For the People (2)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088034)

They even own their own Senator!

Re:Senators! (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36089024)

Collectible Senators and Representatives!

Wizards of the Coast Likes This.

Re:For the People (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088320)

Oh, they sure do! I see their antics on C-SPAN from time to time, these guys are great! Make me laugh every single time.

Be careful when meddling with the satirists, they seem to have a powerful network going. Some of their jokes even get turned into laws!

but couldn't they just... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36087814)

sue for defamation? Doctors and other professionals do it all the time when their reputation has been intentionally and maliciously maligned, and sue for lost wages from it.

Re:but couldn't they just... (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087968)

With defamation there has to be lying involved.

If you tell the truth about the corporation, then no they cannot sue you for defamation. Or they could, but as long as you didn't go bankrupt in the process you'd win.

Re:but couldn't they just... (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088056)

Nowadays, you cannot sue for defamation without invoking the Streissand effect.

There are a lot of idiots who buy a product or service, use it improperly or break it, and then claim it doesn't work and start blogs whining about the fact that the BigBadCorp won't give them a refund.

Jerkasses

Re:but couldn't they just... (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088346)

But let's be frank here, the fallout usually drops on their head, then.

Or how do you feel about the lady that sued McD for hot coffee after spilling it on her lap by being DUMB enough to hold it there while driving? Or the microwaving-the-poodle incident?

The Streisand-Effect only works on companies that actually do something wrong. If they get sued by people too stupid to find their own ass with both hands, you'll usually see these people bearing the brunt.

Utah, huh? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087852)

Well, that isn't going to affect much.

But it probably does mean that if you have a web site hosted in Utah and a shell company also in Utah that you can claim your use of a trademark isn't infringing based on this ruling. Because that is all it would take.

This then opens the door to a shell company and hosting being used by literally anyone to denigrate products. I wonder how much Pepsi would be willing to pay for a trademark-laden anti-Coke site? Or a Toyota-bashing site offered to GM? There has to be some significant money available here.

Obviously, the requirement for the shell company would be to make the web site completely non-commercial. Maybe just a couple of links to the "good guys" - the ones paying for the web site with heavy emphasis about them being the "good guys".

Do you know why the Internet isn't polluted with such sites today? Well, maybe because this rather transparent ploy would be clear to enough people that there would be a lawsuit. Except obviously this judge never thought about that. I guess he was under the impression that people are just out there doing good things and only "spawn of the devil" or whatnot would ever consider using his opinion as the basis for a moneymaking scheme.

Re:Utah, huh? (1)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087924)

Brilliant! Thanks for the idea. mwahaahahah

Re:Utah, huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088072)

From TFS: "because the parodic use of the mark is not commercial and is a form of protected speech"
Maybe this whole scheme you've concocted would be commercial, and wouldn't be parody, so it wouldn't be a form of protected speech? (Yes, advertising is commercial, even if you're "only" linking to your sponsor, not... whatever else you thought the commercial site would be doing?)

Now I haven't RTFA, of course, and given the general /. level of accuracy in summaries, you just might be right, or TFA could be a lengthy discussion of moon-cheese. But as far as TFS goes, your rant seems to relate to an entirely different (fictitious) ruling than the one in the summary.

Re:Utah, huh? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088924)

For the purposes of trademark law, commercial use of a mark means using it to sell goods or services, period. Advertising is not generally considered a product unless your company is an ad network.

Using the name of a website to sell ads on that site is purely a descriptive use of the mark, in that it is the only way to identify that website. In general, descriptive uses are explicitly not considered commercial use. Thus, it is highly unlikely that advertising on such a site would constitute infringement if the site itself does not constitute infringement.

Therefore, the only relevant question is whether the website is being used to explicitly sell goods or services with that mark. For example, it might be dubious to sell T-shirts with the PayPalSucks.com logo. It would definitely be problematic to start a banking site at that address. The site itself, however, is certainly well within its rights to sell ad space.

Re:Utah, huh? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088390)

Satire != Slander

Satire pointedly accuses of some misdoings or other transgressions that the satirized actually committed. It might exaggerate certain traits or aspects, but it does not pull accusations out of its ass and tries to "pointlessly" ruin the reputation of someone, and it never does so with the intent to benefit from it other than from the attention it gets. Satire never tries to redirect the affection of the spectators to other, competing products and companies.

I Knew it (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087912)

HBGary left the "we never forgive, we never forget, expect us" message on Sony's servers.

Domain names too? (1)

ubergeek65536 (862868) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087930)

Does this mean I can register apple-bites.com ?

Fair use (2)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087948)

Isn't satirical work basically the definition of fair use?

Re:Fair use (3, Interesting)

PRMan (959735) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087992)

No, parody is. Satire would be Wayne Gretzky using a picture of Mickey Mouse to say that the New Jersey Devils are a "mickey-mouse" organization. Parody would be a comedy show using the New Jersey Devils logo in a comedy piece on the matter. Actually, they could probably get away with a picture of Mickey Mouse at that point as well.

Re:Fair use (0)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088948)

For dog's sake, someone mod this up. When I read the crappy summary I *cringed* at how stupid the editors can be to equate "satire" and "parody".

Parody is clearly covered as "fair use". Satire is NOT considered "fair use". If you don't know the difference, look it up. They are NOT the same thing.

Re:Fair use (3, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088038)

Not for trademarks, it isn't. Fair use of trademarks extends primarily to "nominative use". That is, we get to use your name when we're talking about you. Any other attempt to profit from the mark is controlled by the company. It should be fairly clear that you can use "Foo(tm)" to declare that "Foo(tm) Sucks", but if there's a chance of consumer confusion between your use of the mark and the company's, you get into murky legal waters. The court literally ends up having to decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether the joke is actually funny.

As with everything else in law, there are about a million complications, caveats, and such like. A good article on the subject:

http://www.cll.com/articles/trademark-parody-statutory-and-nominative-fair-use-under-the-lanham-act#PARODY%20AS%20FAIR%20USE [cll.com]

Good News! (1)

assertation (1255714) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087956)

Unexpected good news is always welcome and always refreshing. Nice to see the courts doing something right for the people.

Turnabout... (1)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | more than 3 years ago | (#36087974)

...is fair play. Thia also means the "Big Corps" can likewise use the tradmarks/tradenames of the activists.

Re:Turnabout... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088144)

...is fair play. Thia also means the "Big Corps" can likewise use the tradmarks/tradenames of the activists.

Yes, for all the non-commercial parodic uses they can think of.

I'm eagerly awaiting an explanation of why this is a bad thing.

Re:Turnabout... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088436)

Sure, why not?

Somehow I can't see how any corporation could or why they would satirize their activist counterparts. As far as I can tell, corporations don't want to give them more exposure than they already get for protesting.

Also good news for Weird Al. (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088080)

This ruling gives Al some breathing room. I'm really glad the judge had some sense in this case.

Re:Also good news for Weird Al. (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088240)

I was under the impression that he generally obtains permission of the artists he parodies before releasing his work.

Not that I follow him too closely, but I recently noted an article on Google News about miscommunication between Weird Al and Lady Gaga's manager. He'd created a parody of "Born this way" and complained that she had refused to give him permission to release it. Lady Gaga responded that she'd never seen the request and that she'd love to have a Weird Al parody of one of her songs. The implication made was that Lady Gaga's manager had turned Weird Al down without consulting Lady Gaga. I hadn't heard any more than this since Lady Gaga gave him permission and the song was released, so I suppose there was no interest in a follow-up by the media.

Re:Also good news for Weird Al. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088506)

Al obtains permission as a courtesy, he's not legally obligated to do so.

Keep in mind, after the refusal, he still released the song on YouTube. You're Pitiful was also released as an mp3 despite Blunt's manager rejecting it (See: Straight Outta Lynwood)

Re:Also good news for Weird Al. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088478)

IIRC he always asks whether the artist had any problems with a parody, even though fair use doesn't require him to, and he refrains from using material from artists who don't want to be parodied.

I guess he would be the one that profits the least from the ruling of all the people who might be affected. I mean, be honest, given his popularity, being parodied by him is maybe the best kind of advertising you could possibly have, exposing you to an audience that would otherwise not have heard about your song. I, for one, would not have heard about ridin' without White and Nerdy.

Not the correct reason (2)

Skapare (16644) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088160)

While I cheer the outcome of this ruling, the reasoning behind it is, IMHO, not the correct one to decide the issue if applicability of a trademark. The reasoning should be based on the fact that an established trademark is the reference to a specific party in trade (e.g. a company, or even an individual where that applies). Normally we expect that the reference is made by that party itself. However, reference can be made by another party ... as long as the reference is the correct one.

The names of companies like Apple and Google, and the products of companies like Ipod or Windows, are trademarks that are established. As long as a reference to "Ipod" refers to the Apple product, and a reference to "Windows" refers to the Microsoft product, then they are correct usage of trademark. If I say "I own an Ipod", then I have committed no violation of that trademark (because I really do own one unit of that Apple product). If I blog about how "Windows is totally insecure", I may or may not be telling a truth about its security, but I'm still referring to the Microsoft product. It's not a trademark violation.

What I cannot do is make a misreference, especially if I am doing so as part of commerce. But it is already commonplace to make reference to competing products in a commercial context. It does get fuzzy here, because merely using the trademark icon may get out of context and be considered something that is attracting. If Pepsi were to put the CocaCola logo on the Pepsi web site in a very large image, and in smaller letters say "that product is not as good as ours", it could be mistaken as a use of the trademark to identify its own products. But if they keep the logo very small, especially with other soft drink logos around, and say things like "independent taste tests of all these products rank ours number one" then it can be clearly a statement of fact (which, if untrue, may be an issue of defamation ... but is not a trademark violation).

The above opinions are NOT a statement of how the law in the USA is, but rather, how I believe it SHOULD be, and how I hope judges would rule to make it be so, if we can't get rid of the Republicans in Congress to make the right statutes.

Re:Not the correct reason (1)

cozzbp (1845636) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088550)

The above opinions are NOT a statement of how the law in the USA is, but rather, how I believe it SHOULD be, and how I hope judges would rule to make it be so, if we can't get rid of the Republicans in Congress to make the right statutes.

Democrats have been in control of congress for quite some time (up until this year). The terms "Democrat" and "Republican" are becoming synonymous with the word "Dipshit" in my opinion. The vast majority of congress is more concerned with staying in power than actually benefiting the nation. All so they can continue to enjoy the perks of being lobbied. What we really need are congressional term limits. It would definitely help put a stop to the corrupt dumbasses that litter the senate and the house currently.

What about make-belive activists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088282)

There are groups of activists who don't really give a hoot about the cause they espouse, they just like raising a ruckus so that
they can get donations.

1) find a cause
2) Raise a ruckus
3) ask for donations
4) Profit!

(Oops I your meme)..

HA!! even Slashdot knows it - the captcha was "Accuse" !!

Bad Decision. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088566)

The judge is wrong. I wonder how he would like it if someone did the same to him. Create websites by him that are racists and support political positions he doesn't, put up profiles on sex sites looking for gay/bi group sex.

Let's see how that POS judge likes it when it happens to him.

Re:Bad Decision. (1)

cozzbp (1845636) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088614)

Right. Because a person and a corporation are exactly the same and entitled to the same rights. Dumbass.

SCO Judge? (1)

Mark19960 (539856) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088622)

Same Dale Kimball?
A shame he did not have a sudden break out of common sense during the SCO fiasco...

So when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088844)

So when is People Eating Tasty Animals getting its' .org domain back?

All IPR violators ought to be shot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36088890)

I would really like to know what law is this decision based on. This violates the very core – each and every principle – of Intellectual Property Rights. But hey, isn't stealing fun? Why bother buying an LCD television, when you can just wait for your neighbor to get one and then steal it? Why bother respecting an Entrepreneur's IPR, when you can just wait Him to build a valuable trademark and then start impersonating Him?

Kleptocracy works as long as you stupid enough not to realize that it inevitably leads to anarchy.

Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (1)

krgallagher (743575) | more than 3 years ago | (#36088906)

I really thought that "The People VS Larry Flynt," had decided this.

From the article:
In 1988, Flynt [wikipedia.org] won an important Supreme Court decision, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, after being sued by Reverend Jerry Falwell in 1983 over an offensive ad parody in Hustler that suggested that Falwell's first sexual encounter was with his mother in an out-house. Falwell sued Flynt, citing emotional distress caused by the ad. The decision clarified that public figures cannot recover damages for "intentional infliction of emotional distress" based on parodies.

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