Chamber of Commerce Sues ‘Yes Men’ for Fake News Conference (See Video)
Posted Oct 27, 2009 9:32 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A group of pranksters called the Yes Men is facing a lawsuit for impersonating the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at a news conference.
The chamber is suing the Yes Men for trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog. The suit (PDF posted by the Washington Wire) was filed late Monday in federal court in Washington, D.C.
The chamber has been criticized for its position against a climate change bill. At the Oct. 19 press conference, an impostor calling himself Hingo Sembra claimed the chamber was now supporting legislation to control greenhouse gas emissions, the Washington Post reports. A real chamber representative burst into the room 20 minutes into the press conference, asserting that the event was a hoax, according to the Post account.
The press conference misled several news organizations, including Reuters, CNBC and Fox Business Network, according to the Associated Press. The Yes Men issued a press release using the chamber’s trademarks and created a website that looked like the chamber's, the suit says.
The Yes Men group describes itself as “a genderless, loose-knit association of some 300 impostors worldwide.” A documentary, The Yes Men Fix the World, chronicles its exploits.
The chamber’s suit claims the Yes Men used the lawsuit to promote the movie, which had been scheduled for release a week go.
“The defendants are not merry pranksters tweaking the establishment,” the chamber said in a news release. “Instead, they deliberately broke the law in order to further commercial interest in their books, movies, and other merchandise.”
The lawsuit says hoaxes by the Yes Men are "nothing less than commercial identity theft masquerading as social activism."
Below, see a YouTube video of the purported news conference.