Update: Another challenge to the MoveOn legal thugs…
Photoshop credit: Blue Crab Boulevard
Earlier in the week, the LA Times reported that MoveOn.org, the infamous left-wing thugs who sponsored the “General Betray Us” ads, had unleashed its lawyers on Internet retailer Cafe Press, which allows folks to sell custom-designed t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. The anti-military smear merchants don’t take kindly to be being mocked and satirized on homemade items and knick-knacks:
Last week it demanded that the site remove eight items, arguing that they violated MoveOn’s merchandising trademarks.
Trademark law doesn’t confer monopoly rights over all uses of a registered phrase or symbol, however, and it wasn’t created simply to protect the trademark owner’s interests. Instead, it’s designed to protect consumers against being misled or confused about brands. The courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of parodies and critiques; that’s why www.famousbrandnamesucks.com doesn’t violate famousbrandname’s trademark. And most, if not all, of the items targeted by MoveOn were clearly designed to razz it, not to trick buyers into thinking they were the group’s products.
Beyond that, it’s amazing that MoveOn would try to squelch political speech.
“Amazing?” Not really. These are radicals who are out to squash their critics and political opponents by any means necessary.
“While we understand that negative commentary is unsavory, our shopkeepers’ parodies of the MoveOn.org trademark are permissible here, especially when one considers the First Amendment implications raised by the social and political importance of your organization, the policies it advocates, and the countervailing messages conveyed by the parodies,” wrote Daniel Pontes of CafePress to Carrie Olson, MoveOn’s chief operating officer. Olson had been the one requesting the takedown.
One of the targeted Cafe Press shop owners, Parsing Poet, sold items protesting MoveOn.org at “The PoliStew Cafe.”
He e-mailed me about his tangle with the legal mafia at MoveOn.org:
“I had a store for a few days called The PoliStew on CafePress. First off, get it straight. I’m not of the far right or left. I am military and I am pissed off over the Petraeus ad. So I started my shop to speak out about the group that supported it, and also to suggest that they don’t speak for all Dems. As of today, the shop is closed temporarily. I received a copy of this from Cafe Press, who got it from THE GROUP THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED:”
Subject: Notification of Trademark Infringement
Attn: Candice Carr
Intellectual Property Rights Agent
950 Tower Lane
Foster City, CA 94404
Dear Ms. Carr,
I am contacting you as the representative of MoveOn.org, and therefore the trademark owned as “MoveOn.org” We have been alerted to an entire page of items on your website that infringes on our registered trademark, and we request that you remove all items immediately, and ask the poster to refrain from shipping any items purchased on this webpage. We also request that you give us contact information for the company / person who posted the items.
This content has certainly NOT been authorized by anyone at MoveOn.org, nor anyone affiliated with MoveOn.
Parsing Poet continued in his e-mail:
“”Cafe Press wonderfully told them about First Amendment Rights. Cafe Press told them to shove off, but went and removed some but not all of my merchandise that had the words XXXX-XX on it. Okay. So there. Well, you have to think with a friend like the left leaning group that paid big bucks to demean a four star general, that the Democrats have conveniently created their own in-house enemy. I decided on my own to shut down my store temporarily, retool, and come up with even more pointed campaign of their hypocrisy. It will support General Petraeus’s reputation, and it will refrain from use of their name, however, they shall be dubbed, ‘the #1 contributor to the Democratic Party THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED.’ So go ahead, have a chuckle. Show the shirt on your blog…show the damned world. In fact, soon this photo will be on a MUG at my store! Tell everyone that a right leaning Democrat got shut out by XXXX-XX because they can’t even take dissent from within their ranks.”
Spread the word.
Parsing Poet is fighting back. Here’s his new shirt for sale (proceeds benefit military families):
Buy the mug, too!
Edward Padgett is a disgusted friend of Parsing Poet. He posted four of the images MoveOn.org forced Cafe Press to remove and he writes:
I subscribe to the MoveOn newsletter, and even considered hosting an anti-war rally in San Dimas, but now I want no part of this radical group and will remove my name from their newsletter subscription…Why is it, MoveOn organization can dish it out to our president and general, but feels threatened by simple slogans against them?…Move On used the First Amendment when they smeared the General’s name in the NY Times. However, they cite trademark infringement when it comes to anyone using theirs to criticize them on a t-shirt. It wasn’t. Trademark infringement would be if the shopkeepers were selling it as “official” moveon merchandise, which it’s clear by the lack of their logo and also the message that it was a protest message. Carrie Olson, COO of MoveOn also demanded the shopkeepers personal information, which amounts to bullying and threats. Fortunately, CafePress refused to give them that information. I guess to MoveOn, the First Amendment is only for the rich.
“I guess to MoveOn, the First Amendment is only for the rich.”
Someone should put that on a t-shirt, too.
I featured one of the banned logos at the top of this post. Here are a few others from The Polistew via Edward Padgett. If you’ve got a blog, it might be nice to feature one in Spartacus-style solidarity with the targets of MoveOn.org’s thuggish cease-and-desist campaign.
Go ahead, MoveOn.org. Suuuuuue:
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