Originally posted 2013-04-11 17:39:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

But does it then taketh away? Wired reports:

The left-leaning political advocacy group, MoveOn.org, is backing down in a flap over the use of its name in online advertisements, permitting an influential Republican senator to criticize the organization in a reelection ad on Google’s search engine.”We don’t want to support a policy that denies people freedom of expression,” says Jennifer Lindenauer, MoveOn.org’s communications director.

MoveOn has withdrawn its instruction to Google not to run ads utilizing its trademark, MOVEON.ORG.

That certainly sounds like the right thing to do if you’re “progressive,” or even if you’re not. In the article, Lindenauer says that the concern was not with the content of critical advertising, but with potential fraud — unauthorized advertisers raising funds in MoveOn’s name.

Ron Coleman on Fox News
The video of the post of the blog

Google remains unmoved, not surprisingly (U/D: “This doesn’t get Google off the hook”); its policy is still stuck at “maximum protection for Google,” ostensibly at the cost (to Google) of advertising dollars, in exchange (for Google) for a reduced exposure to involvement in lawsuits. The cost to third parties and to the public of this policy, which treats any use of a trademark as a potentially actionable trademark use, is incalculable — but that is not Google’s problem.

Advice to all public figures and organizations seeking to avoid criticism via Google advertising: Claim trademark in your name! (So? Is Google keyword advertising the only channel by which people can broadcast their opinions about public issues? — ed. No, but it’s an important enough medium that one of the most dominant companies in the world is built on it!)

One more thing: MoveOn left the door open, perhaps not intentionally, to slamming it right back closed again. Here’s what it told Wired:

“When we became aware of all the controversy around it, we opted out,” Lindenauer says. “Of course we support free speech, and the right of anyone to parody us, but what we do care about is protecting our members — we don’t want anyone using our name or logo in a way that could harm our members and mission.”

That’s a “yeah but” you can drive a Hummer through. Let’s see what happens down the road. We won’t be moving on so fast on this.

By Ron Coleman

LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION blog author Ron Coleman is a member of Dhillon Law Group in their New York City and Montclair, New Jersey offices. He is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Law and Princeton University.

5 thoughts on “MoveOn.org giveth”
  1. I hope MoveOn keeps with its new position. The right to use an organization’s name for the purpose of criticism is a matter of free speech. As long as the Google ads are not causing confusion, it should not matter whether MoveOn agrees with the criticism or whether the criticism harms the organization’s mission.

  2. Google has a longstanding reputation among west coast IT professionals for maintaining a very politicized workplace. The company’s culture promotes the idea that the best and brightest people are also people who advocate ‘Progressive’ politics. I suspect that this is one reason that their hires are so frequently right out of post-grad programs – often right out of Stanford post-grad programs.

    If you can make it past the killbots and avoid their NDA-at-the-door console, you’ll notice that almost all of their employees are the same age. They’re not the early to mid twenty-somethings typical among SV companies – they’re early thirty-somethings who’s haven’t otherwise been out of institutional environments.

    Unfortunately modern Progressivism is rather authoritarian. These folks are openly skeptical of ideas such as freedom of speech and the sovereignty of conscience. You might say or think something that’s wrong after all.

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