According to a MediaPost article, investment bank Goldman Sachs recently demanded that blogger Mike Morgan take down his gripe site GoldmanSachs666.com.Â A lawyer for the bank sent Morgan a letter last week demanding that he stop using the Goldman Sachs trademark in the site’s domain name.Â Instead, Morgan filed a preemptive lawsuit against the bank on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In his lawsuit, Morgan says that he owns the domain name GoldmanSachs666.com, which he uses “to display news and commentary” regarding the bank.
The site, which went live at the end of March, is devoted to criticizing the bank, with posts like, “Breakup Goldman Sachs — Too Big To Fail Means Too Much Power.”
Courts have ruled against other companies that have attempted to use trademark law to shut down gripe sites. For example, last year a court rejected Wal-Mart’s attempt to shut down the sites walocaust.com and walqaeda.com.
In general, courts determine trademark disputes by evaluating whether a particular use of a trademark is likely to confuse people. Who does Goldman Sachs think they’re kidding? Nobody is likely to confuse Morgan’s site with Goldman Sach’s official website. It seems to me that Goldman Sachs’ lawyers thought they could throw their weight around and make the poor blogger shut down his site. Now they’re stuck in federal court in Florida with a legal position that is frivilous. But hey, what does Goldman Sachs care? The taxpayer bailout is probably paying the lawyers.
If Goldman Sachs were to get away with their ridiculous interpretation of trademark law, that would shut down a substantial portion of the lawyer websites in this country.Â When a lawyer puts up a website talking about filing lawsuits against manufacturers of Ortho Evra or Yamaha Rhinos, does anybody confuse those websites with sites maintained by the manufacturers?Â No.Â And neither would anybody confuse Morgan’s site with Goldman Sachs.
Can anybody tell me whether the First Amendment to the Constitiution has been repealed in this country?Â I didn’t think so.