In a December 10th decision, New York Federal Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled in favor of Trend Forecaster Gerald Celente’s claims that bloggers are exploiting his internationally known name and reputation. Pending the case’s outcome, the Judge ordered Google to immediately disable blogs operated by impostors.
The Court ruled that Celente owns a valid and strong trademark in his personal name, and the bloggers were causing irreparable damage to his reputation through websites that have led consumers to mistakenly believe they are authorized by Celente.
Dyan Finguerra-DuCharme of Pryor Cashman LLP, Celente’s New York City attorney, believes that the case could set precedent with wide-ranging implications for Google (who owns Blogger) and for the Internet in general. She said if the case against Google succeeds, it could set precedent in New York holding internet hosting services accountable for misconduct by users when the hosts take no action once they become aware of claims of infringement.
Over the past year, Celente and his attorneys have filed numerous detailed complaints with Google substantiating his claims of trademark infringement, unfair competition and impersonation. However, Google replied only with irrelevant boilerplate responses:
Thanks for Your reply.
Blogger is a provider of content creation tools, not a mediator of that content. We allow our users to create blogs, but we don’t make any claims about the URLs or content of these pages. In cases involving trademark, if a contact email address is listed on the blog, we recommend you working directly with the author to have the information in question removed or changed.
The Blogger Team
The suit also charges that the impostor bloggers, by using the Gerald Celente trademark without authorization, are profiting off his name by driving ad clicks that generate revenue.
Moreover, some of the blogs contain offensive, damaging and inflammatory postings: “The contents of the infringing blogs appear, inter alia, calculated to harm Mr. Celente by suggesting that Mr. Celente is the source of certain offensive political and social contents, including anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic statements,” the lawsuit states. “Most recently, the infringing blogs have gone as far as making statements about the Vatican being terrorists, Islamic extremism and recent Libyan assassinations, leaving Mr. Celente fearing for his safety given the current political climate.”
Celente is suing Google under two unfair competition claims essentially charging that Google allowed the sham blogs to impersonate him, against their own policies that explicitly ban impersonation, and in violation of the Lanham Act.
“From what I learned after court, listening to their counsel, was that the only way to get Google to enforce their own impostor policy was to force them to do it,” observed Celente. “Google displayed a high-handed arrogance that I would sum up as: ‘We’re Google, we’re too busy and too big to bother with you, and we won’t listen to you. Take your problem with the bloggers to court.'”
“My case is a trademark violation issue and the bloggers are riding off the goodwill of my trademark to make a profit,” he said. “Yet, Google’s counsel claims it is a First Amendment issue and that Google has ‘a broad interpretation of the First Amendment.’ Thus, rather than address legitimate complaints, it appears Google intends to evade the trademark issue by trying to hide behind the First Amendment.”
“Thus, anyone being preyed upon by malicious impostors as I have been will be forced to take the Google Giant to court in order to get any satisfaction.”
“My hope,” concluded Celente, “is that this case will set a precedent; that it will definitively establish the difference between ‘free speech’ and a ‘trademark’ – bring Google down to earth and get them to live up to their corporate motto, ‘Don’t be Evil’.”
Here is the previous story, Gerald Celente Sues Google and Blog Impostors
Note: The case is Celente et al. v. Google Inc. et al., case number 1:12-cv-08083, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Celente is seeking injunctive relief and monetary damages for unfair competition, cyber squatting and violations of privacy and publicity rights.
Copyright (c) MMXII The Trends Research Institute