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Chicago Law Firm Sues Over Hyperlink To Trademarked Name

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  • News at 11. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:35PM (#25140095)

    Next in news: all trademarked names sink on Google.

  • Litigious bastards (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:35PM (#25140107) Homepage Journal

    Jones Day [jonesday.com](TM) is going to have to get in line. SCO has existing use claims on linking litigious bastards [jonesday.com], based on their extensive use of the mark between 2002 through present.

    It's too bad the legal system isn't more accessible to the common man or baseless suits with intent to crush or scare wouldn't get filed so often.

    • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:42PM (#25140243) Homepage Journal
      Who [jonesday.com] are Jones Day [jonesday.com] anyway? How could Jones Day [jonesday.com] be concerned with trademark dilution if nobody outside of their [jonesday.com] own damn office building knows who they are? If they [jonesday.com] were to become popular [jonesday.com] nationwide, i'd hope it'd be because of this [slashdot.org] discussion on slashdot - but would the Streisand effect [jonesday.com] be good [jonesday.com] or bad [jonesday.com] for Jones Day? [jonesday.com]

      p.s. Jones Day [jonesday.com] sucks.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Who [jonesday.com] are Jones Day [jonesday.com] anyway? How could Jones Day [jonesday.com] be concerned with trademark dilution if nobody outside of their [jonesday.com] own damn office building knows who they are?

        Congratulations, user 1125189, you've won a free trip to glorious Cleveland, Ohio, courtesy of Jones Day - One Firm Worlwide. Please proceed to your front door, where our siren-topped courtesy vehicle will pick you up in twenty minutes.

      • by Zordak (123132)

        Your post is cheeky and funny, but I would like to point out that in the legal arena, Jones Day is friggin' HUGE [wikipedia.org]. These guys are not some two-bit operation. And yes, they do carry a reputation for pretentiousness and all-around snobbery* (I offer no opinion on whether it's deserved). That said, I know somebody who is an associate there (not in Chicago, though), and she's a brilliant and ethical attorney. So they're not all like this. The truth is, I work for a firm a little more than a tenth of their s

    • by PhreakOfTime (588141) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:21PM (#25140841) Homepage

      Well, Ive had the same experience. A local real estate company sent me a Cease and Desist Letter [demystify.info] in regard to domains that they wanted, but did not want to offer compensation for.

      The letter consisted of threatening to sue me, file CRIMINAL charges against me, and restraining orders. It also bordered on libel, as it stated for a fact that owning these domains was libelous and slanderous, without any court of law coming to that finding. The company who hired the, in my opinion, unethical attorney to send this letter was Caton Commercial [willcounty...tcourt.com]

      Since they sent that letter, and I published it on-line for my lawyer to read, the results seem to have been that their company name 'Caton Commercial' now comes up with the second result in google pointing to the Will County [willcounty...tcourt.com] website which lists all the current and pending legal cases they are involved in personally, and because of their business practices.

      Is there something about real estate where the blinders to the outside world are so intense, that they stop the line of thought the prevents a company from considering the 'law of unintended consequences'?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by russotto (537200)

        The letter consisted of threatening to sue me, file CRIMINAL charges against me, and restraining orders. It also bordered on libel, as it stated for a fact that owning these domains was libelous and slanderous, without any court of law coming to that finding. The company who hired the, in my opinion, unethical attorney to send this letter was Caton Commercial

        They can't libel you by communicating privately with you. But isn't threatening criminal prosecution to get their way in a civil matter bordering on b

        • by PhreakOfTime (588141) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:36PM (#25141115) Homepage

          You are correct. However, instead of actually looking up the name of the owner of these domains using a WHOIS, the lawyer who wrote the letter seemingly just opened up a phone book and found the same last name as me, and sent the letter there first. This was not my address.

          The letter was sent to SOMEONE ELSE first, then back to the attorney, who then finally figured out he had the wrong address. This took almost 2 months before it finally made its way to me. That is why on the letter I posted online, the address is blacked out, since it is one of a completely unrelated party. The only similarity was that they have the same last name as myself.

          These guys are on the ball, yes?

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by MichaelSmith (789609)
            I bought my current house from an individual who was forced to sell by his bank. In the years since he has got into more trouble but when court officials come looking for him they always come here because he didn't give them his new address.

            One trick he seems to use is that when a lawyer refuses to work for him because they haven't been paid he just finds another lawyer and uses them to sue the previous one.
          • That is why on the letter I posted online, the address is blacked out, since it is one of a completely unrelated party.

            You seem to be slashdotted.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Tubal-Cain (1289912)

        Is there something about real estate where the blinders to the outside world are so intense, that they stop the line of thought the prevents a company from considering the 'law of unintended consequences'?

        They didn't write that one.

  • Lawyers :::sigh::: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by copious28 (983855) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:36PM (#25140115)
    Man, cant the lawyers fight something that is more useful, like crooked Wall Street firms? What a waste of the court's resources.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I never got this but... why does USA wants to solve everything via lawyers?

      I fell over, let's sue someone.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The glamorization of specific events where the victim did something stupid and was awarding 10s of millions and doesn't have to work again might be a big draw for a lot of people.

      • by Joebert (946227)
        That's a good question. I'm in the USA and I've been trying to figure that out for years. things would be soo much easier if people just handed me their money and got it over with.
      • I fell over, let's sue someone.

        Ballmer. He obviously took your chair.

    • The thing with lawyers is... whether they are a saint, or whether they are a horrible human being that takes advantage of everyone and everything they can, they still get paid, and they still keep their job. Look at Jack Thompson for christ sake.
  • by greenguy (162630) <estebandido@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:36PM (#25140129) Homepage Journal

    You don't want us to drive traffic to your site? Fine by me.

    • They don't, actually. Jones Day is a law firm. The only sites they want linking to them are the ones that say, "This is a good lawyer to hire." ANYTHING else has the potential to shed light on the details of their business. Since law practice is not always clean and pristine (as this article demonstrates), Jones day is likely to be unhappy about drawing attention to their practices.

      Disclaimer: This post is an opinion and makes no factual statements. By reading this post you waive all rights to sue, counterclaim, issue official correspondence, or even look at AKAImBatman (User #238306) with a funny look on your face.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mugnyte (203225)

        Well, it's amazing, but there are still plenty of people left to be introduced to the Streisand Effect [wikipedia.org].

        I say this should stand a strong advertisement that they are completely ignorant of how the web works, on both the original level of the case, and in the effect this latest press is giving them.

        "Aren't you that famous law firm that tried to censor teh interwebs? It doesnt work like that, dude"

        • by Altus (1034) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:10PM (#25140683) Homepage

          No doubt. If I, for some reason, had this law firm on retainer I would be looking for a new firm already. This whole fisasco has to make one question the firms grasp of technology and law. Worse, it makes it clear that they lack any forethought. Right or wrong, what did they think was going to happen when they filed this suit? Did they not think that it would end up plastered all over the internet?

          If I were one of their clients I would be questioning their judgment right now.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            This whole fisasco has to make one question the firms grasp of technology and law.

            Especially their grasp of the law.

            This is one case where a clearly correct analogy exists to print and broadcast media: If a print newspaper or broadcast news operation published the same information about the member lawyers, using their company name and giving their firm's contact information, they'd clearly be exercising "nominative fair use". The web site has clearly done exactly the same thin in a different medium.

            In par

      • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:24PM (#25140889) Journal

        I'm looking at you funny. WHACHAGONNADOABOUTIT?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by AKAImBatman (238306) *

          Punish you, obviously.

          I hereby call on the power of grayskull to mod parent +5 Funny!

          We'll see how you like that!

          • Who knew? Batman is He Man [wikipedia.org]. I would never have guessed.

            .
            .
            .

            I've never been so ashamed in my life, as I am right now, for knowing that Grayskull is the home of He Man.

            • by scot4875 (542869)

              No .... Greyskull was the home of the Sorceress. He Man was actually Adam, who lived in the Eternia palace.

              At least, that's how I remember it. I can't click the Wikipedia link or I'll certainly get lost in a maze of articles about He Man, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, and all my other childhood favorites.

              --Jeremy

          • I hate to break it to you, but Greyskull was recently paved over and replaced by a Walmart.
      • by maglor_83 (856254)

        or even look at AKAImBatman (User #238306) with a funny look on your face.

        O_o

    • by mcgrew (92797) *
      Not me. I think we should introduce them to Barbara Streisand [wikipedia.org].
    • by Fumus (1258966)
      I *really* hope they win this and every last webpage will be prohibited from linking to trademarked names.
      Maybe this will show how absurd and detached from reality lawyers are.
  • by BeerCat (685972) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:38PM (#25140173) Homepage

    So, let's get this straight. You'd like people to be attracted to your business, but you don't want them to use your Name....

    Kind of defeats the point in having a website, really.

    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:43PM (#25140273)

      No, no. They're fine with most people linking to them, just not the people they don't like. Unfortunatly, what they really want is the power to sue anyone who dares say bad things about them. They may as well make breathing illegal, that way anyone the police don't like can be charged and everyone else won't be.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        However with Trademarks and Copyrights if you don't defend yourself against ALL the violations (even if you 'like' them), don't you forfeit the right to do so?

        • Except that linking to a website isn't a trademark violation.

        • by Darth (29071) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:12PM (#25141757) Homepage

          Copyright has no requirement to aggressively defend it.

          Trademark does, but using a trademark to identify the business that owns the trademark isn't an abuse of the trademark. It's the purpose of the trademark.

        • by kent_eh (543303)
          Simply saying (typing) their name isn't a violation, it's fair use.
          The defendant created a list of landowners (culled from the public record) with links to those owners, and posted it online.
          How can linking to someone's web page and stating "they own this" (I.E. stating a fact) be a violation of copyright?
          Or maybe they want to sue everyone who reads the sign on their building aloud too...
    • by AlHunt (982887) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:21PM (#25140859) Homepage Journal

      I had fun lately with some telemarketer calling to "update their database" - certainly not to try and SELL us anything. This is the last kind of crap we want.

      I asked for her fax number so I could fax her our "Database Inclusion Agreemnet". They'd need to fill it out and return it with either the $2,500 annual license fee to include our copyrighted corporate name in their database or the $25,000 "Lifetime License Agreement". I explained that by including us without such agreement and fee we felt they would be guilty of copyright infringement and be referred to our legal department.

      Not surprisingly, I got hung up on. I really need to get to work on that inclusion agreement. And get a legal department.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by barzok (26681)

        You should have called it a "Database Inclusion Agreemnet Form". That way you could rightly tell her to DIAF.

  • by DankNinja (241851) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:39PM (#25140179) Homepage

    Let 'em know what you think:

    http://www.jonesday.com/contact/contact.aspx [jonesday.com]

    --

    • Dan Reidy (Score:5, Funny)

      by DankNinja (241851) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:43PM (#25140257) Homepage

      Better yet,

      contact the guy in charge:

      Daniel E. Reidy

      Tel: 1.312.269.4140
      Fax: 1.312.782.8585

      Email: dereidy@jonesday.com

      • How is Daniel Reidy in charge? Are we talking in charge of the Firm or in charge of this particular lawsuit? It must be the lawsuit, because the firm's managing partner is Stephen J Brogan.
      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        Better yet,

        contact the guy in charge:

        Daniel E. Reidy

        And when you contact him, make sure you tell him that "Jones Day is pants"
        When he says "no it's not" you tell him "Barclays is better"

        If you don't get it: http://www.google.com/search?q=%22is+pants%22 [google.com]
        /I'd encourage you not to send a fax, since toner is expensive.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We see a lot of nonsense of this kind, so this particular case is not in any way remarkable.

      However, every time that such a case pops up, I find myself asking the same question: why are the lawyers who actually submit these suits on behalf of their companies such utter idiots that they allow it to happen, let alone instigate it?

      "Because their CEO tells them to" is no answer, because lawyers are hired to give legal advice, not to say "Yes" --- in fact they have to give good advice as a professional responsi

      • by PitaBred (632671)

        I think you answered your own question... it's not hard to get a monkey to repeat the answers to a test or bar exam. It is hard to get one to not act:

        like IQ 20 submorons with extra helpings of stupidity and a total lack of social conscience and zero professional pride.

    • by bendodge (998616)

      I used that to send them a link to this article under the name "Bird Snest", with the email address "birdsnest@slashdot.org". I hope it gets through and somebody reads it. :P

  • ...every newspaper, news broadcast, book publisher and public speaker in the country is being sued for having ever mentioned an entity with a trademarked name.
  • Yes, but... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:42PM (#25140249)

    How would Microsoft [yahoo.com], Google [microsoft.com], and Yahoo! [google.com] feel about this?

  • by Rurik (113882) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:44PM (#25140279)

    In reviewing the site, I can see how it pisses people off. You get someone mad and they'll find some way to attack. The site canvasses the real estate market in a few large cities and makes not of prominent people that buy or sell property. It then does a mini-bio on the person, sometimes with their picture example [blockshopper.com]. The site is fully within their rights to do so, but I can understand the feelings of a person suddenly showing up on there with their life story just because they bought a house. So, they find loop holes to get it taken down.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheSpoom (715771) *

      Yeah, but honestly, I wonder if they even sent them an email before suing them in federal court. And even then, couldn't they have found some sort of invasion of privacy statute?

      I realize the point of this suit is to get them to settle and just stop linking, but at least try to make it sound legitimate.

      • by Altus (1034) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:15PM (#25140759) Homepage

        Its not invasion of privacy to post publicly available information on the internet.

        The purchase and sale of property is a mater of public record and are generally listed in the classified section of your local news paper. Taking that information and combining it with the results of a google search on the buyer or sellers name is certainly not invasion of privacy, though it might make you re-think the kind of info you put on line.

        Im still not quite sure what the point of the web site is though.

  • I feel like maybe we should change or duplicate the standard [a href="foobar"] tag to just say [go to:"foobar"]. Then when these cases come up it will be even more blatant that the free-speech question is really "Am I allowed to say 'go to: foobar'?".

  • by darkmeridian (119044) <william.chuang@noSpAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:52PM (#25140435) Homepage

    Jones Day was founded in Cleveland and has its largest office there. Moreover, the problem is people linking non-Jones-Day-related stuff to "Jones Day." Pretend I linked your name to "Asshole."

  • by EWAdams (953502) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:55PM (#25140473) Homepage
    It also includes their trademarked name. How dare it!
  • Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot&castlesteelstone,us> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:07PM (#25140631) Homepage Journal

    Large Chicago law firm Jones Day are suing internet startup BlockShopper over the issue of whether linking to a business with their trademarked name should be legal.

    Yes, it should be.

    "RPGs? Try White Wolf [white-wolf.com] or Wizards of the Coast [wizards.com]."

    Trademarks exist to differentiate businesses. You have an ABSOLUTE RIGHT to use somebody else's trademark to refer to them or describe their product. Any law that says otherwise is fundamentally flawed, and violates the first amendment.

    A trademark is a name, and names are fundamental to speech.

    • by fyoder (857358) *

      Its not as simple as that, according to the article.

      BlockShopper used pictures of Jones Day lawyers grabbed from the Jones Day web site, and it linked to the site, but Jones Day doesn't seem worried about this. Instead, our review of the Jones Day complaint shows that the issue cited is "confusion"â"the claim is that people visiting BlockShopper and seeing the pages in question might assume that it was somehow officially related to Jones Day. This is... unlikely (see our example from the site).

      Customer confusion is a classic trademark issue. I would hope that the author is correct in being doubtful, though back when the web was relatively new I would get complaints from visitors regarding sites I'd linked to as though I was responsible for the linked site. Hopefully by now people have it figured out. Now I just get complaints about my choice of sites to link to where I made no such choice, but google ads did.

  • I would think whether the trademark was infringed or diluted would depend on a few things:

    1) what the context of the description around the trademark was;

    2) whether the trademark hyperlinked to something disparaging, confusing, or dilutional.

    For example, if I write an article about Apple Records, and include a hyperlink with the text "Apple" pointing to a different record company, that would be confusing and dilutional. Same thing if I wrote an article about photocopiers and used Xerox® to like to a pag

    • by Splab (574204)

      Good point, except I think Xerox lost their trademark status because they failed to protect it.

      • Yes, they failed to defend against it's dilution. Or, if they didn't fail, they came close to it. I vaguely remember adds that said "This is a copier. Xerox is a company" or something like that.

    • "...using a corporate trademark to associate with such criticism instead of the company.."

      That's the issue, the company NAME is their trademark.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Rene S. Hollan (1943)

        Right, but it is one thing to say "This is a critcism of X®" where X® links to the company's website, and quite another to say "This article is a review of various manufactures of foos, such as A®, B®, C® and have B® link to a scathing disparagement without evidence to back it up, insted of B®'s website -- particularly if A® and C® link correctly.

        You can certainly criticize B®, but what you can not do is use B® as identifying anything other than the owner or prod

  • by russotto (537200) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:34PM (#25141083) Journal

    Lots of companies seem to think that trademark is a blanket rule to prevent others from talking about you (consider that the NFL thinks you can't mention team names without their permission!). It doesn't help that there's the occasional idiot judge who upholds that kind of thing.

  • If a judge is insane enough to decide in favor of Jones Day, the World Wide Web in all countries which recognize trademarks would come to a screeching halt. Google, MSN, and Yahoo would cease to exist almost overnight as their stock price plummeted to zero instantly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Xuranova (160813)

      uh no.

      1. Their stocks wouldn't plummet to 0.
      2. Those 3 companies (esp MS) have more lawyers than this law firm and a much bigger bankroll to appeal this to the end of time.

        MS has fended off the government by themselves. With Google and Yahoo! backing them, they can wipe this law firm off the map.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        MS has fended off the government by themselves. With Google and Yahoo! backing them, they can wipe this law firm off the map.

        Conveniently enough, that's exactly what they want.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by canajin56 (660655)
      Death of a lot more than that. They aren't actually suing over the link, if you read the linked articles. They are suing over their name being mentioned at all. The hyperlink is only even mentioned to get the /. crowd enraged. While true that it does contain a hyperlink, they are not suing for that, they are suing because they believe the article written ABOUT THEM may falsely mislead people into believing it was written BY them.
    • by maglor_83 (856254)

      the World Wide Web in all countries which recognize trademarks would come to a screeching halt

      Fortunately, most countries don't use US court decisions as precedents.

  • Before today I would have said Jones Day were a good law firm, but making such a weak claim just makes them look incompetent. This is almost certainly an allowed use of their trade mark and suggesting it is in any way infringement is a stretch (to put it politely).

    I wonder how many current and potential clients of the firm have seen the details on this lawsuit and are thinking about not using Jones Day for any future work. I know I would be.
  • ... lawyers [jonesday.com] tend to be the most confused about anything new and/or involving high tech.

  • If this decision goes to the law firm than it seems to me that certain companies/industries are entirely screwed. Yellow pages anyone? Maps? I know that traditionally these are seen as "facts" and are thus quasi public-domain, but this seems to be shifting the line dangerously.
  • I really don't have a problem with that.

    And if it becomes illegal, then I don't have a lot of trouble there either.

    Are they trying to break Google or what?

    ps- note to you crazy guys at Jones Day: Don't bother. Not worth it. Google doesn't care about your business.

  • by xrayspx (13127) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:53PM (#25142531) Homepage
    As a move to avoid the possibility of getting caught up in a suit, I think Google, Yahoo, MSNLive, Ask and every other engine should remove any reference to this domain.

    If no one can find you via search engines, and no one links to you, what good is your site? They would probably sue the engines if they de-listed that domain for some wacky antitrust mumbo jumbo, "conspiracy to not help us make a living" or somesuch.
  • "The EFF has filed an amicus curiae, asserting that the plaintiffs are a bunch of idiots who have no clue how the web works and can't be trusted with ordering a latte let alone managing their own brand."
  • I have no intention of ever linking to their site.

    (Actually, this isn't hypothetical. I've been asked by the claimed owners of a couple sites to remove links to their sites from mine. I did so, and added them to my DoNotLink file as a reminder. I think I'll add Jones Day to the file. If they don't want publicity, I'm happy to comply.)

  • by airship (242862)

    Are these guys idiots?

    Oh... wait... I see they're lawyers. So my question is redundant.

    Never mind.

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