Today I received a cease and desist letter from Dow Lohnes PLLC on behalf of Capitol News Company LLC which is the publisher of POLITICO. They claim that my domain name “thecollegepolitico.com” and its contents are “confusingly similar” to their trademarks. They then make absurd unfounded claims that I somehow specifically choose to use the term “politico” in my name to steal their readers and confuse them into thinking that POLITICO is a tiny conservative college opinion blog run by a single person.
They replay this same argument several times and then “demand” that I, within 10 days, stop all use of the label “The College Politico”, literally give them control of my domain name “thecollegepolitico.com”, and write them a letter declaring I will permanently cease and refrain from all future use of “The College Politico” or anything similar to POLITICO.
Just to explain, in case anybody was wondering, when I created my blog I had no intention to draw any relation to POLITICO. I was simply trying to find a snappy way to describe myself, hence The College Politico. And apparently, at least according to POLITICO’s attorney’s, I was too dumb to realize that the noun politico (originating in 1630 according to Websters) wasn’t a word which describes somebody in politics but rather a piece of property owned by a news conglomerate.
I certainly didn’t create it with any odd intention of somehow tricking people into thinking I was affiliated with POLITICO… and I honestly cant see how anyone who visits my site could ever get the idea that I was in any way affiliated with POLITICO. I mean the sites aren’t remotely similar in lay out or content (or enjoyability for that matter). Other than the commonly used noun politico what do we have in common? It’s my understanding, at least, that POLITICO is now and always has been a news organization.
In fact, the trademark they hold for POLITICO and CAMPUS POLITICO is only applicable in newspaper reporting about capitol politics or “news and information via the internet” about, essentially, capitol politics. Is that what I do here at The College Politico? It’s really hard for me to say yes or no because that’s such an absurdly broad net… is my opinion on news considered news and information? I wouldn’t say so… would you?
Another, perhaps more interesting, question that arises from POLITICO’s trademarks is the specific nature of them. You see, they don’t just own POLITICO and CAMPUS POLITICO, they own WALL STREET POLITICO, HOLLYWOOD POLITICO, MOBILEPOLITICO, LA POLITICA, EL POLITICO, and POLITICO TV. Now if they really believe, as they argue, that use of the term politico is a violation of their trademark then why do they keep trademarking such specific phrases including the term? It’s also interesting that someone was able to claim the trademark for PR POLITICO.com well after POLITICO had been trademarked… how does that work in all of this?
Quite frankly though I question their ability to trademark a commonly used term like politico and if I have the resources I would like to challenge it. They most certainly didn’t create the term politico or define it so why in the world should they have specific right to it?
In my opinion this seems like an ugly attempt to intimidate me into handing over a brand which I’ve worked extremely hard to build. A simple google search shows that the term “Politico” is used in a myriad of other politically focused sites which makes me feel as though they are singling me out.
Unfortunately, I’m not a lawyer and I have next to no money to spend on one. That’s where I really need help… does anybody know a good lawyer that might want to help me out for little or no money? Or will I have to give up fighting before I’ve even started?
UPDATE: I want to make sure that I say thank you to everyone who has posted about this and is supporting me… here is the list so far (I’ll update it if more people jump in):
Ace of Spades HQ
Riehl World View
Instapundit (making a point about the word pundit)
Stop the ACLU
Freedom & Liberty
The Sundries Shack
NewsBusters (it should be noted that they are merely reporting the facts and that I write for them)
Blogs For Victory
The Minority Report (cross posted at Seeking Liberty)
Yid With Lid
Submitted to a Candid World
I also want to thank everybody whose given me support on twitter, through email, and in comments. I can’t express how much gratitude I have for all the kind words. Thank you.