Chamber of Commerce sues ‘Yes Men’ for commercial identity theft.

Frankly, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to give this ‘activist’ group any more free publicity for their movie than they’ve already gotten:

The U.S. Chamber filed a lawsuit yesterday against activists who last week staged a fake news conference announcing that the business trade group had changed its policy on climate legislation.

The suit filed in federal district court cites trademark and copyright infringement and said that the Yes Men group staged the press conference stunt for financial gain.

“The defendants are not merry pranksters tweaking the establishment,” Steven Law, the chamber’s chief legal officer and general counsel, said in a statement. “Instead, they deliberately broke the law in order to further commercial interest in their books, movies, and other merchandise.” The movie “The Yes Men Fix the World” opened Friday.

…but if you’re going to rip off an organization by using their logos and name for publicity purposes without paying for the privilege, well, it’s hard to do that without at least a little bit of publicity. The Chamber of Congress’ own post on the subject is here; they’re taking this lawsuit seriously – and given the current political climate, possibly so should the defendants.  I can think of about forty or so ruling-party Congressmen who would just love to do the Chamber of Commerce a favor right now.

Moe Lane

PS: The Electronic Frontier Foundation, of course, thinks that this is a First Amendment issue.  They don’t mention the film at all, because, well… it’s much more convenient for the EFF if everybody keeps thinking of this as a First Amendment issue, and not as commercial identity theft.  I have a lot of sympathy for the EFF’s goals, but these guys that they’re defending shouldn’t have appropriated the CoC’s name and public identity to generate buzz for their film.

Crossposted to RedState.


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  • Moe_Lane says:

    One comment for whoever wants to wander in and shake the digital libertarian Finger of Shame: it is in fact fairly obvious that the actions were part of a publicity stunt, and that the purpose of that publicity stunt was to profit the defendants. Just how it is.

  • So their defense is, using free speech I can pay an impersonator to dress up like Madonna or Obama, or whomever and have them advocate for my movie/book/what-have-you?

    There are laws that directly cover this, and they have no protection when it’s done for profit or for what is basically advertising. You also can’t use other companies’ logos, name, aegis, etc. fraudulently and without permission. The law is pretty explicit on all this as well.

    These guys are going to have to settle, and I hope on top of that their movie flops (which, if it’s from a lefty point of view, chances are, it will, if recent history is any guide, even the Great Fat White Whale Mike Moore is losing money on bashing the US and conservatives.

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