Victory for Occupied Chicago Tribune over Chicago Tribune Company

Occupied Chicago Tribune first amendmentPeople’s Law Office Helps Obtain Free Speech Victory for the Media for the 99%

An administrative panel of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) ruled today that Occupied Chicago Tribune had the right to retain their internet domain name despite the efforts of the Chicago Tribune Company to shut it down. The Occupied Chicago Tribune is a volunteer-run alternative news source, which describes itself as “Media for the 99%.” It is a manifestation of the OCCUPY Movement, which began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, with Occupy Chicago kicking off just a few days later and the movement has since spread like wild fire across the nation. Not surprisingly, there have been a number of attacks by the 1% to try and suppress the populist OCCUPY Movement, and the Chicago Tribune’s lawsuit before WIPO was a stark example of just such an attack. However, today’s ruling represents yet another victory for the OCCUPY Movement, and the latest example of the People’s Law Office’s (PLO) unflinching commitment to defending OCCUPY and other social movements when they come under attack by the 1%.

The Occupied Chicago Tribune was represented by the People’s Law Office (PLO) attorneys Michael Deutsch and Ben Elson. Prior to the ruling Ben Elson was quoted by journalist Kevin Gosztola:

“My clients do not profit from publishing their newspaper or their website, and they didn’t choose their domain name to disrupt the Chicago Tribune’s business. There’s obviously no likelihood of confusion between the website names. I think only an imbecile could believe that the Occupied Chicago Tribune is the Chicago Tribune’s website.”

In part the panel held:

The Occupy Movement is an international protest movement with a wide range of goals, one of which is to protest against the political and economic inequities that exist between the small fraction of highest-earning individuals in a society and its remaining members. The movement has spawned the popular political slogan “We are the 99%.”

Given the circumstances of this case and in particular the heavy and nearly universal coverage of the Occupy Movement within the national and local media, the Panel holds that the Occupy Movement is so well known within the relevant area (both parties being from Chicago, Illinois, in the United States) that the Domain Names are not confusingly similar to Complainant’s mark. The Panel agrees with Respondent’s assertion that no reasonable person in the Chicago area would confuse the Domain Names with Complainant or Complainant’s publication.

Attorney Michael Deutsch stated that, “this ruling represents a total vindication for OCCUPY and a blow to the arrogant efforts of the Chicago Tribune, to try to intimidate those who oppose, criticize and critique the media that represents the interest of the 1%.”

Read the full decision from WIPO here: Occupied Chicago Tribune Decision

For more info about the work of People’s Law Office in defending social justice movements, visit the Protest and Free Speech page on this site.