Sarah Bird at SEOmoz has an interesting post regarding the recent Jones Day linking law suit (link to EFF’s amicus brief), where the firm launched a claim against an ecommerce site for using its trademark, “Jones Day”, to refer to the firm in a headline, and link to the firm website, which could lead to confusion over the sponsorship of the site.
Specifically, I found this quote from Sarah’s post very interesting:
“Instead, Jones Day is suing over the use of its name as anchor text for a link to its website. It claims that its mark is being diluted and there is a likelihood of confusion. Yeah right. Can you imagine someone accidentally going to BlockShopper and thinking that it was a law firm site or affiliated with Jones Day just because it links to it? Have any of the managing partners ever used the internet before? Here’s a hint to the folks at Jones Day: There are no tubes. There are only links. The more links to you, the better for you.”
Snark aside, Sarah’s comments seem spot on. There’s also an underlying background story to the site’s publication of real estate purchases by the firm’s attorneys, but that doesn’t seem to be a good reason for preventing another website from linking in, or making reference to the firm’s name. The lack of control over who links into a law firm website is something most firms should be getting used to by now. Obviously, that point hasn’t hit home everywhere.
Why the (ab)use of the legal system like this? I have no clue. But other firms should learn a lesson here: firm sponsored lawsuits that don’t have a favourable perception to the online community, can and will bring about bad publicity. The era of niche commentary is upon us, and someone, somewhere will take exception. The time to mitigate risk on something like this is not after filing the claim, it’s before.
… But that’s my amateur take. And I fully accept that my perspective may be blinded by what’s been published to date. Any of the in-house IP experts here at Slaw seeing this from another perspective?