TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: More About HR 683's Attack on Free Speech

More About HR 683's Attack on Free Speech

Monty Solomon (
Wed, 26 Apr 2006 17:52:14 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: Paul Levy <>
Date: April 26, 2006 5:27:36 PM EDT
Subject: More about HR 683's attack on free speech

I have written to you before about HR 683, the "Trademark Dilution
Revision Act", which would restrict free speech by depriving those
accused of trademark infringement of explicit defenses of
noncommercial use, fair use and news reporting that are afforded by
the current statute. We have been trying for months to draw the
trademark owner associations who are behind this bill, to put their
arguments on the public record, and we are finally making some
progress -- it is remarkable how little they have to say.

This past Saturday, Editor & Publisher posted a column by Steven Yahn
that explained the problems, which lies in a subtle change in
introductory language to the three defenses.

The E&P column has, at last, succeeded in drawing the sponsors out.
Yesterday there were two letters from lawyers (who had apparently not
read the bill closely enough), along with Yahn's reply that goes
through the statutory and bill language in detail,

Today there is a letter fron the bill's main private sector sponsor,
the International Trademark Association, along with my response.

Sadly absent from INTA's arguments are any reasons why trademark
owners need this particular change in the language of the Lanham Act,
what legitimate interests have been harmed or would be harmed by the
application of these defenses to infringement claims, and why INTA is
so insistent in keeping this change that it sneaked into the bill
without explaining it (at least in public).

INTA has ducked these questions so far, but if it wants to change the
law, it should tell us why.

Paul Alan Levy
Public Citizen Litigation Group
1600 - 20th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 588-1000

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