Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Eight Deadly Sins (In The World According To Intel Corporation)

For those who were wondering, Intel Corporation has alleged EIGHT federal, state, and common law causes of action in its complaint filed with the US District Court for the Northern District of California. Here they are, with some summaries:

1) Trademark Infringement

Americas News Intel Publishing LLC, via its URL, "falsely indicates to consumers that America News Intel's Products and services are in some manner connected with, sponsored by, affiliated with, or related to Intel, Intel's licensees, or the goods and services of Intel and Intel's licensees....Americas News Intel has caused confusion and is likely to cause further confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive consumers or potential consumers...."

Well now, we've never had a single consumer call us to buy a computer processor, request hardware technical support, or in any way confuse us with these quacks. But judge for yourself. Go to the Web site and see if you find yourself confused!

2) False Designation of Origin

Same as above, but adds, "Intel has been, is now, and will be irreparably injured and damaged by Americas News Intel's aforementioned acts...."

Wow. Irreparable damage! And we weren't even trying. Why would we? Apart from being entirely disinterested in doing so, it just seems easier to let Intel Corporation do irreparable damage unto itself by violating fair business practice laws worldwide and getting hauled into court for it. Or so numerous government lawsuits allege... Irreparable! Do all of its shareholders know about this?

3) Federal Trademark Dilution

"Americas News Intel's acts blur and whittle away at the distinctiveness and identity-evoking quality of the Intel mark. Americas News Intel's acts have diluted and are likely to continue diluting the famous Intel mark...."

Sheer poetry. We're both blurring and whittling at the same time. Bet you haven't seen that done before! Dilution arises, generally, when another company starts using the same mark as yours, generally when it does not compete directly with you. The obvious problem here is that the California technology maker grabbed an English-language word (Intel is a portmanteau for integrated electronics) that was already in use and decided that it owned it. Apple Computer and the record label Apple Corps (founded by the Beatles) can fight over the use of the word Apple as a mark, since neither actually produces the generic tree fruit. But neither can stop Granny's Apple Pies (made up name, any resemblance to any company past or present is coincidental) from making delicious pastries from that generic tree fruit and calling it apple pie. That's just un-American!

4) Injury To Business Reputation And Dilution Under California Law

This basically rehashes the aforementioned federal charges and invokes state law. But here's a choice quote: "Americas News Intel willfully intended to trade on Intel's image and reputation and to dilute the Intel trademark, acted with reason to know, or was willfully blind as to the consequences of its actions." A lot of willfulness is being alleged here! Where's our white cane?

5) Infringement Under California Law

Again, restates federal infringement complaint from above, but says we specifically "irreparably injured and damaged" Intel in California, too, making their complaint eligible for state sanctions. Of course, since our service was digital, delivered online and via email, the complaint is presumably applicable in all 50 states (not to mention under the intellectual property laws of countries around the world), but perhaps the perception of infringement on Intel Corporation's home turf just felt more irreparable to its executives than it did in other states or countries.

6) Common Law Passing Off And Unfair Competition

"Americans News Intel's unauthorized use of ... [its] trademarks constitutes passing off and unfair competition of the Intel mark in violation of the common law of California."

For those who thought that passing off was something that only happened in relay races, this complaint might seem bizarre. Or, we should clarify, more bizarre than the others. "Passing off" in common trademark law occurs when one entity misrepresents goods or services as being the goods and services of the claimant. In other words, the complaint alleges that we were trying to dupe potential subscribers into thinking they might be getting a computer chip rather than a newsletter. Does that seem like a stretch to you? Has anyone ever ordered a subscription to Time magazine thinking they were buying some additional hours or minutes to tack onto their lives or squeeze into their day?

7) Unfair Competition

"Americas News Intel's acts described above constitute unfair competition in violation of California Business and Professional they are likely to deceive the public.

Ah, the poor, ignorant masses. Would you like some snake oil along with a newsletter subscription? Not much to say about this complaint. Intel Corporation received the biggest fine in history from the European Union for engaging in unfair competition. Their tactics would make Bill Gates cringe. So it must feel good to be able to point the finger at someone else. Anyone. Even a tiny newsletter publisher.

8) Federal Cybersquatting

"Americas News Intel registered and/or used the and domain names with a bad-faith intent to profit from Intel's INTEL trademark."

Cybersquatting sounds so much naughtier than infringing. It's the kind of mischief you might expect from cyberpunks in a William Gibson novel, not from arid analysts. Complaint number eight. We suppose they saved the best for last. In other words, the entire time and the large sums of money we invested into building up the Mexico Watch Intelligence Service of newsletters since 2005, which involved 365 days of work per year and hundreds of thousands of printed words analyzing and describing Mexico's business, political, and economic developments, not to mention laborious marketing efforts, was all just a sham to be able to bilk Intel Corporation. Rather than acquire the domain names and put some generic, low-maintenance page up as a placeholder, we opted for a more elaborate scheme that required us to knock ourselves out running an intelligence service based out of a Mexico City correspondent office. My, aren't we clever?


No comments: