San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Citizen, joined by Public Knowledge and Citizen Media Law Project, urged a federal judge in Chicago Friday to dismiss a law firm's baseless trademark claims, which were apparently aimed at quashing speech by an online news site.
The firm of Jones Day filed the lawsuit against the real estate news site Blockshopper.com, alleging that using its trademark "Jones Day" to refer to the firm in a headline and linking to the Jones Day website could lead to confusion over the sponsorship of the site. In its amicus brief, EFF and Public Citizen argue that these routine references to Jones Day are well-established fair uses of a trademark and clearly protected by the First Amendment.
"The claims are absurd--Blockshopper was simply reporting accurately on the activities of two lawyers who happen to be Jones Day employees," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "That reporting is protected under trademark and free speech law, and Jones Day should know that. If Jones Day had its way, any trademark holder could use trademark claims to restrict news and commentary related to its business and any of its employees."
"Jones Day alleges that the public could be confused by the references to its name and links, but Internet users know that websites generally link to other websites, independent of any official affiliation," said Paul Alan Levy, attorney with Public Citizen. "That's why it's called the World Wide Web."
This amicus brief is part of EFF's No Downtime for Free Speech Campaign, which works to protect online expression in the face of baseless intellectual property claims. Robert Libman of Barnhill, Miner & Galland assisted in filing the brief.
For the full amicus brief:
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Paul Alan Levy