Digital Rights Advocates: Law Firm Out Of Order

BlockShopper screenshotThe law firm Jones Day is "abusing" its trademark in an attempt to squelch a Web publisher's legitimate news articles, digital rights groups said in court papers filed in the case.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed in federal district court in Chicago late last week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Citizen, Public Knowledge and the Citizen Media Law Project argue that Jones Day's lawsuit against the real estate should be dismissed.

"A large firm with overwhelming resources seeks to use trademark law to prevent a small real estate news site from conveying accurate information about the firm and its associates," the groups wrote. "The use in question is clearly a fair use."

Jones Day did not respond to several messages Monday seeking comment.

Jones Day sued last month, after the site published articles about the recent real estate purchase by two associates, Dan Malone Jr. and Jacob Tiedt.

The 2,200-attorney firm also alleged that violated trademark law by linking to Jones Day's site. The law firm argued that mentioning its name in articles and linking to its site created the wrong impression that the firm was affiliated with the Web site.

The digital rights groups argue that BlockShopper has a constitutional right to mention the law firm's name in posts. "Fortunately for BlockShopper and other news media, Jones Day can no more stop the accurate news reports on than it can stop articles in The Chicago Tribune,, or any other print or electronic news source, large or small," they argued.

The groups also warn that accepting Jones Day's theory about linking would radically alter the nature of the Internet. "If ... a speaker who links to the web site of any trademark owner without the owner's permission is subject to the substantial expense of defending a trademark suit, the World Wide Web as we know it will cease to function," they wrote.

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