Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

Google / MoveOn intrigue

Posted by Ron Coleman on October 25, 2007

MoveOnBob Cox at the San Francisco Examiner is all over it!:

Internal documents obtained by The Examiner shine new light on MoveOn.org’s “General Betray Us” ad and raise fresh questions about the far-left advocacy group’s misleading statements on the issue and its relationship with Google, a major donor to its political action committee.

The documents show how MoveOn.org used dubious claims of trademark infringement and threats of litigation to silence critics of its recent controversial full-page ad in The New York Times attacking Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. general in Iraq, which appeared the day he was testifying before Congress on the war effort. Among those critics was Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is seeking a third term….

After The Examiner exclusively reported Oct. 11 that Google had banned four anti-MoveOn.org ads placed by the Collins campaign, Google and MoveOn.org each sought to portray the ban as unrelated to the Petraeus ad controversy. The documents obtained by The Examiner, however, show a direct link between the two events….

None of the complaints filed by MoveOn.org with Google or CafePress.com asserted that a “third party” was making fraudulent use of MoveOn.org’s name to collect financial contributions….

[But] on Sept. 19, MoveOn.org’s Erik Olson — husband of [Google COO] Carrie Olson — filed a trademark complaint with Google seeking to block any mention of MoveOn.org by any advertiser for any reason, including ads that criticize MoveOn.org by name.

It was this complaint that Google cited as the basis for banning Sen. Collins’ anti-MoveOn.org ads. Google’s complaint form used by MoveOn.org required that the trademark owner make a legal affirmation that the complainant has a “good faith belief” that the use of the trademark is not “permissible under law.”

MoveOn.org, however, did not cite any specific ad, nor did it provide Google with any evidence of trademark infringement. The advocacy group has since said publicly that the Collins ads are permissible under the law.

There’s a lot more. This story has gotten beyond my little opinions about trademark law — but not past Bob Cox. Read the article.

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2 Responses to “Google / MoveOn intrigue”

  1. The Google, MoveOn Story is Back

    Post Source: The Milwaukee Examiner
    You may remember a couple of weeks ag…

  2. Bill Levinson said

    Google is on record as contributing a lot of money to MoveOn.org.

    As for CafePress–I recently posted several items there that use MoveOn.org’s name. MoveOn can no more stop me from using its name in protest media than Halliburton can do anything about the anti-Halliburton items at CafePress. As long as I don’t use MoveOn’s trademark, or imply that MoveOn endorses the goods, I doubt there is a damned thing that Carrie Olson can do other than throw a tantrum. (E.g. CafePress does have a policy against using trademarks or names to make, for example, “Nike” or “Addidas” T-shirts.)

    I wouldn’t have even thought of it, by the way, had MoveOn not gone after “Waitress Polly” for her anti-MoveOn items. MoveOn will wish that that was all it had to contend with by the time I am done with it.

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