Internet Law

Nonprofits Oppose Jones Day Trademark Suit Over Associate Home Purchase Posts

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Citizen have filed an opposing amicus brief in federal trademark litigation brought by Jones Day over a website’s postings about home purchases by two of the law firm’s associate attorneys.

The posts should be considered news reporting, as well as an allowable fair use of the Jones Day mark, especially since there is neither a legitimate infringement claim nor a legitimate dilution claim, says a Consumer Law & Policy blog post written by Paul Alan Levy, a Washington, D.C., attorney representing the EFF. No one is likely to confuse the use of the Jones Day name in posts about home purchases by associates with actual law firm activities, he indicates.

A copy of the 17-page brief (PDF) is provided by Public Citizen. It opens with an argument that “plaintiff is abusing a trademark to suppress legitimate, non-infringing speech, with potentially significant implications for other online speakers.”

As discussed in an earlier post, the BlockShopper site sued by Jones Day lists home purchases by individual attorneys in certain areas of the country, naming the law firms for which they work and routinely linking to their law firm bios and photographs, too.

Two other nonprofits have also also joined in the amicus filing in the Northern District of Illinois federal district court suit. They are Public Knowledge and the Citizen Media Law Project.

Additional coverage:

Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Jones Day sues Web site for using law firm’s name”

Electronic Frontier Foundation (press release): “Law Firm Uses Bogus Trademark Claim in Attempt to Silence Online News Site”

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