WHAT WERE THEY THINKING REDUX OR WHAT IN THE WORLD WERE THEIR TRADEMARK LAWYERS THINKING?
Call it hubris, vanity, arrogance, pettiness, spitefulness- whatever the correct word would any of us want these words connected to our brand? Of course not!! .. So you say. But the smart folks at MoveOn.org and Lowe's are the latest to enter the cease and desist letter hall of shame.
First disclaimer. I very much admire MoveOn.org. Not counting the betrayus fiasco they have been an important voice from the left side of the political spectrum. Important voice or not, they put their political ( you choose the proper portion of the anatomy) in their mouth when they attacked Cafe Press, a website that lets people offer custom designed bumper stickers, T shirts, coffee mugs etc. As reported in the September 24th edition of the LA TIMES online, MoveOn.org sent a strongly worded letter to Cafe Press demanding that they stop selling some T shirts and bumper stickers that were critical of MoveOn. And the basis for their indignation? That Cafe Press was violating MoveOn's merchandising rights!!
These are the moments when I always find myself asking: What WERE they thinking? Something like
I have a great idea-- Why don't we, an organization whose raison d'etre is based on free speech, why don't we stomp on the free speech rights of some folks who have criticized us. We'll show them won't we!!
But MoveOn isn't entering the hall of shame alone. Lowe's wants to join them.
Second disclaimer. Jimmy Johnson is ok but I'm a Tony Stewart fan.
Anyone in retailing who is able to draw a breath has, by now, heard about the .sucks websites. Such sites are often established by disgruntled customers who use them as a podium to express their gripes. And though many have tried the votes are in--Courts all over the country have upheld the First Amendment rights of customers to establish such sites. Claims by brand owner that such sites infringe or dilute their trademarks have, almost without exception, been dismissed. And the language used by judges has often not been kind to brand owners.
Did that stop Lowe's or their trademark attorneys/ Heck No!! They fired off a nasty gram to the lowessucks site owner with the boilerplate trademark mumbo jumbo. Oh by the way- the site did not use any Lowe's brands.
As I have said, say now and will continue to say. The Internet changes everything. If it EVER made any sense to send off such letters -SURELY it don't make no sense anymore.
WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?