Monday, August 14, 2006

Lieberman site may violate Lanham Act

Emptypockets @ Next Hurrah has found something that is oh so much bigger than s/he knows.

The post, Will the AFL-CIO back Lieberman?, is about how the metadata on Joementum's revived website contains the name "AFL-CIO," despite the fact that the union has not made any endorsement in the 2006 general election.
So is Sen. Lieberman actively misrepresenting his primary endorsement? Or is it just an accident, showing that even after his recent troubles his campaign still can't figure out how to set up a website properly?

I called Sen. Lieberman's campaign (860-244-2006), and the CT AFL-CIO (860-571-6191) about 3 hours ago for more information. Sen. Lieberman's campaign office asked to get back to me, and at the AFL-CIO I was directed to their political education director's voicemail. I left a pseudonym and my real email with each office, and will update if I hear anything. In the meantime, if you're curious about it, give the Senator's campaign a call and ask them why they're advertising an endorsement from the AFL-CIO.

Every once in a while, one of the messes from my past lives becomes relevant. This may be one of those times.

If The AFL-CIO metatag emptypockets found is there without the AFL-CIO's consent, then this, my friends, is not just stupid -- it may also be illegal.

The Lanham Act is the name for the main body of federal trademark law. "AFL-CIO," in addition to being the name of a powerful union, is also a registered trademark. It has been several years since I looked at the law on this, so it is entirely possible that things have changed, but I think that sticking someone else's trademark in your website's hidden text for the purpose of suggesting a non-existent affiliation is still against the law. It is possible that there is some exception for use in a political context, but I am not aware of one.

So in addition to tearing Lieberman a new one for this stunt, the AFL-CIO could probably bring a trademark infringement claim.

3 Comments:

Blogger <-<--esoder<---<----<----- said...

Slow news day?

9:55 PM  
Blogger bluememe said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Trival stuff, I know. But when it comes to the Iraquagmire, I am just another small-time angry blogger. But for once I know something that is at least somewhat relevant that Digby, Bilmon, FDL, Kos, etc. probably don't.

This is arcane and obscure knowledge that almost never bears on the world of politics. I have lots of it. (If a political debate ever turns on knowing the valve diameters in fuelie heads, I am a lock.) And you never know where such things may lead -- remember those typography geeks and how they brought down Dan Rather.

8:38 AM  
Blogger <-<--esoder<---<----<----- said...

A yes, proportional fonts.

And they got Capone on tax evasion.

And of course I spend most of my time writing about cooking, peacocks, and trips to the zoo.

10:05 PM  

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