Friday, February 04, 2011


There's a lot of punitive litigiousness going around all of a sudden, all with the theoretical potential to significantly narrow the range of speech we're used to having (although it's quite likely that none of it is actually going to succeed).

Sarah and Bristol Palin haven't sued anyone yet, but I assume they hope to someday (or at least Mom does), which would explain why they're trying to turn their names into registered trademarks.

...Politics Daily has learned that the Palin family lawyer, Alaska attorney Thomas Van Flein, has filed applications to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark "Sarah Palin®" and "Bristol Palin®."

... For Sarah Palin's application, there are two classes of commercial service for which her name would be a registered trademark. One is for "information about political elections" and "providing a website featuring information about political issues." The second is for "educational and entertainment services ... providing motivational speaking services in the field of politics, culture, business and values." ...

It's the first part of that that creeps me out. Is she implying that if you want to run a Web site about her political career that's in any way critical and you use her name, and then take any advertising whatsoever, she's going to try to shut you down? This is a woman who wants to be president someday? Um, isn't shutting down news and opinion outlets critical of a politician the sort of thing dictators do?


Then there are the folks who are suing Jimmy Carter's book publisher:

More than four years after its publication, five disgruntled readers have filed a class-action lawsuit against President Jimmy Carter and his publisher, Simon & Schuster, alleging that his 2006 book "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" contained "numerous false and knowingly misleading statements intended to promote the author's agenda of anti-Israel propaganda and to deceive the reading public instead of presenting accurate information as advertised."

The five plaintiffs named in the lawsuit are seeking at least $5 million in compensation. The hard cover edition cost $27.

The suit accuses Carter and his publisher of violating New York consumer protection laws because they engaged in "deceptive acts in the course of conducting business" and alleges that they sought enrichment by promoting the book "as a work of non-fiction." ...

I assume this is just too preposterous to succeed -- though stranger things have happened. (I've never understood why the courts allowed people to collect refunds for buying Milli Vanilli records. Sure, if you went to a Milli Vanilli show, you were watching lip-syncers rather than singers -- but the studio recordings were exactly what you thought you were paying for. What was the deception?) If the Carter suit succeeds, TBogg has already called dibs on Jonah Goldberg's book, and I reserve the right to sue over the entire Regnery catalog and Glenn Beck's complete oeuvre.


Finally, there's Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who's suing Washington City Paper over this anti-Snyder article, and has decided that one of the actionable aspects of the piece was this illustration:

What's legally wrong with this? According to Snyder, it's anti-Semitic. Yup, you think it's just an imitation of the typical kid's defacement of a photo, but no -- it's a hate crime.

I guess that changes my reading of this photo from Glenn Beck's 9-12 rally in 2009:

I get it now! She's calling Obama a dirty Jew!


UPDATE: Scott Lemieux points out that Snyder has been a five-figure George Allen campaign contributor over the years. OK, three right-wingers, then. (Other beneficiaries of Snyder's largesse: Orrin Hatch, Steve Forbes, John McCain, and Michael Steele, with a bet-hedging gift to Steny Hoyer thrown in there for good measure.)

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