Trademark as Censorship: Newspaper Claims Satirical Blogger Mentioning Its Name Is Trademark Infringement

by Stephan Kinsella on August 24, 2011

From Mike Masnick at Techdirt:

Newspaper Claims Satirical Blogger Mentioning Its Name Is Trademark Infringement

from the get-better-lawyers dept

Gatehouse Media — a smaller newspaper chain who actually had done some fairly innovative online things in the past — has really become rather crazy when it comes to intellectual property lately. First it sued the NY Times for linking to it, then it threatened a forum site for linking to it with headlines and ledes (which most people consider to be fair use). Now it’s going even further. Keyop points us to the news that the lawyers for one Gatehouse paper, the Utica Observer Dispatch have threatened a local satirical blogger with trademark infringement claims for the great sin of mentioning the name of the Utica Observer Dispatch.

We wish to advise you that the name, “The Observer Dispatch,” that you are using is the property of GateHouse Media, protected by trademark and past usage rights. Your use of such name constitutes infringement of GateHouse’s rights under federal, state and common law. Our proprietary rights in such name include the right to restrict the use of the name. It is important that we exercise our right to protect our name. Its serves as an important and distinctive representation of the origin of our products as well as the goodwill of GateHouse Media.

The blogger, Ray Jadwick, definitely makes fun of the Utica Observer Dispatch on his site, but it certainly doesn’t appear to be trademark infringement. Making fun of your paper isn’t likely to confuse even a moron in a hurry.

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