Last week, Goldman Sachs (GS) sent an Cease and Desist letter, demanding that blogger Mike Morgan take down his gripe site GoldmanSachs666.com, saying that the site violated Goldman’s intellectual property rights and that the domain constituted trademark infringement.
The “666” in the domain’s refers to address of Goldman’s headquarters in New York.
So instead of waiting for GS’s UDRP to arrive in the mail, Mr. Morgan, filed a preemptive lawsuit against the investment bank in the in federal district court, for the southern district of Florida, alledging that Mr. Morgan GoldmanSachs666.com, is used “to display news and commentary” regarding the bank and does not violate GS trademark as it is a legitimate use.
Morgan also asks the court to declare that his use of the name is lawful and doesn’t infringe on Goldman Sachs’ trademark or violate other laws.
“He wants nothing more than to be able to have the opportunity to publish news and commentary about matters of interest to him on the Internet,” said his attorney, Joseph Beckman.
A spokesperson for Goldman Sachs said the company sent Morgan the cease and desist letter to protect itself. “This is not about Mr. Morgan’s right to express his views. It’s about his infringement of our trademark,” the spokesperson said.
Morgan’s site went live at the end of March, and is devoted to criticizing the bank, with posts like, “Breakup Goldman Sachs — Too Big To Fail Means Too Much Power.”
Morgan’s site has a disclaimer at the top stating it isn’t affiliated with Goldman Sachs.
Courts have generally supported the rights of people to use domains incorporating trademarks as gripe sites. For example, last year a court rejected Wal-Mart’s attempt to shut down the sites walocaust.com and walqaeda.com.
Other cases have supports sites which include a trademark and the word “sucks” at the end.
However, UDRP as well all know, have a tenancy to blindly support a trademark holders. Federal courts actually try to apply the law to its cases.
We wish Mr. Morgan the best of luck in this case.