Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Brand Name Bullies

"Bullies succeed by intimidation. When they do not encounter resistance, they push as hard and as far as they can. In copyright and trademark law, large corporations, famous personalities and well-heeled law firms have prevailed for too long precisely because the public does not have much of a role in writing the law, does not know the rights it may have, and does not have the legal resources to fight back. As a result, brand-name bullies have been allowed to inflict incalculable harm on public life, cultural freedom and personal choice.

Charlatans should not be allowed to misuse a trademark in order to commit marketplace fraud or confuse consumers. But it beggars the imagination why Ralph Lauren should have a monopoly on the word "polo" (at the expense of an equestrian magazine), or why Microsoft should be allowed to prevent a vendor of a Linux-based computer from naming itself "Lindows" (Microsoft lost its case at the district court level, but has appealed). Why should the owners of the Godzilla trademark be allowed to root out any uses of the letters "zilla" in the cultural landscape?" Extracted from the book Brand Name Bullies by David Bollier. For some more examples of brand name bullying, go here.

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