Blogger Beats Bank To Punch, Files Suit

Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs recently made headlines demanding that blogger Mike Morgan take down the gripe site Instead, Morgan filed a preemptive lawsuit against the investment bank.

In his complaint, filed Monday in federal district court in the southern district of Florida, Morgan says that he owns the domain name, which he uses "to display news and commentary" regarding the bank.

Morgan also asks the court to declare that his use of the name is lawful and doesn't infringe on Goldman Sachs' trademark or violate other laws.

"He wants nothing more than to be able to have the opportunity to publish news and commentary about matters of interest to him on the Internet," said his attorney, Joseph Beckman.

A lawyer for the bank sent Morgan a letter last week demanding that stop using the Goldman Sachs trademark in the site's domain name.



A spokesperson for Goldman Sachs declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said the company sent Morgan the cease and desist letter to protect itself. "This is not about Mr. Morgan's right to express his views. It's about his infringement of our trademark," the spokesperson said.

The site, which went live at the end of March, is devoted to criticizing the bank, with posts like, "Breakup Goldman Sachs -- Too Big To Fail Means Too Much Power."

Courts have rebuffed other companies that have attempted to use trademark law to shutter gripe sites. For example, last year a court rejected Wal-Mart's attempt to shut down the sites and

In general, courts determine trademark disputes by evaluating whether a particular use of a trademark is likely to confuse people. Morgan's site currently has a disclaimer at the top stating it isn't affiliated with Goldman Sachs.

3 comments about "Blogger Beats Bank To Punch, Files Suit".
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  1. Jeff Bach from Quietwater Media, April 15, 2009 at 8:27 a.m.

    It's certainly easy (and warranted) to get something like this going given the groundswell of anti "big bank sentiment". It looks to me like he's trying to use facts and to verify the basis of his statements, much like traditional journalism.

    Can see why Goldman Sachs is nervous. In addition to knowing that what they did was profoundly wrong, now they have to deal with sites like this making their wretched lives even more miserable. How can anyone in the financial industry enjoy their yacht or their mansion with guys like Mike Morgan around?

  2. S.e. Olson from Why We Watch, April 15, 2009 at 9:29 a.m.

    Since the gold standard for trademark infringement is likelihood of confusion as to the origin designation or sponsorship of the site, I suspect that a jury will no more think that has anything to do with Goldman Sachs than they would think operates under the auspices of Wal-Mart (and the site has been around much longer than the blog)

    It was very wise of Mr Morgan & his counsel to take the lead in yet another one of these crybaby corporate nuisance lawsuits that seeks to stifle any public dissent that might cost the companies financially when the cost to public discourse in our society of allowing this form of legalized corporate extortion is far greater to us all.

  3. James Culp from Franklin Pierce Law Center, April 15, 2009 at 10:12 a.m.

    I recently heard speech by an experienced trademark lawyer talk about this problem. He says the courts have generally sided with gripe sites if they limited themselves to griping; were not "easily confused" with the real thing; and the gripe sites were not trying to make money. One ruling held that even pop-up ads were allowable; however, the next case drew the line at the gripe site owner trying to sell the site to someone else. I have not seen the site; it would be interesting to see if the owner tries to make some money out of it and in what way.

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