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More about HR 683's attack on free speech
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2006 17:28:48 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: Paul Levy <plevy () citizen org>
Date: April 26, 2006 5:27:36 PM EDT
To: dave () farber net
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. http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/columns/shoptalk_display.jsp? vnu_content_id=1002384406

The E&P colum 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, http:// www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp? vnu_content_id=1002385861

Today there is a letter fron the bill's main private sector sponsor, the International Trademark Association, along with my response. http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp? vnu_content_id=1002423272

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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