“Criticizing A Trademark Is Not Trademark Infringement”

Originally posted 2007-09-29 21:25:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

It’s free speech. This is a big step forward:

In a recent example of just how bizarre [trademark overreaching] has become, there was apparently a dispute over the trademark of the word “Freecycle” that’s been used by groups who promote reusing stuff that would otherwise be thrown out. There was an attempt to [register a] trademark [utilizing] the term, but not everyone was happy about it. One guy put up a website protesting the idea to [register] the term, and he got sued for trademark violations in using the mark in his criticism. Clearly, that’s way beyond the consumer protection purposes of trademark — but a district court actually agreed with the trademark holders, saying that the guy violated trademark law in “disparaging” the trademark. Luckily, the [9]th Circuit appeals court has now overturned the ruling, noting that there is little to no chance of confusion here over the mark. More importantly, the court pointed out that there is no such law against “disparaging” a trademark. That’s a good thing, too, or pretty much all criticism would be outlawed.

Thank you, Ninth Circuit. What’s astonishing, depressing and pathetic is that the mark owners won at the trial level. That’s the level at which small- and medium-sized business and individuals get slaughtered every day.

More here on this story.

email

Tags: , ,

Author:Ron Coleman

I write this blog.

Subscribe

If you don't get enough email (who does?), I can send you LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION® blog posts by email! Free!

3 Responses to ““Criticizing A Trademark Is Not Trademark Infringement””

  1. July 8, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

    How did that ever win at the trial level? What judge was presiding over that thay they would call that infringement?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION® » Blog Archive » Google using trademark policy to shield MoveOn? - October 11, 2007

    [...] “In a recent ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the notion that there is anything like a cause of action under the Lanham Act, the statu[t]e governing trademark law in the United States, for so-called ‘trademark disparagement,’ ” Coleman said. The courts have also rejected the notion that the use of a trademark as a search term is a “legally cognizable use” as a trademark use under federal trademark law, he added. Coleman is also general counsel for the Media Bloggers Association. [...]

  2. Freecyle v. Oey - Victory for Free Speech « The Legal Satyricon - October 14, 2007

    [...] I particularly liked Ron Coleman’s summary of the case: Thank you, Ninth Circuit. What’s astonishing, depressing and pathetic is that the mark owners won at the trial level. That’s the level at which small- and medium-sized business and individuals get slaughtered every day.(source) [...]

Leave a Reply