Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Utah Federal Judge Tosses Corp.'s Trademark Suit on 1st Amendment Grounds

The Delicate Arch, a natural arch in Moab, UtahImage via WikipediaThe U.S. District Court for the District of Utah this week in Koch Industries, Inc. v. John Does 1-25 (Case No. 2:10-cv-1275-DAK) cited First Amendment safeguards for unidentified environmental advocates who used the Internet to perpetrate a media hoax on plaintiff Koch Industries, Inc., as the basis for dismissing the company's lawsuit against the anonymous jokesters.

In an 18-page memorandum of decision and order, U.S. District Court Judge Dale A. Kimball dismissed the plaintiff's claims, including trademark infringement, cybersquatting and unfair competition, against the anonymous defendants who constructed a false Website and issued a phony press release last December alleging that Koch was going to fund environmental groups and had shifted its corporate position on climate change.

Judge Kimball also ordered the plaintiff not to use any of the information it already had obtained via subpoena to the company that unknowingly hosted the pseudo-Website to identify the defendants, holding that allowing Koch to do so would violate the First Amendment political speech and anonymity rights of the defendants.

The unidentified members of Youth for Climate Change were represented in the lawsuit by the nonprofit Public Citizen Litigation Group.
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