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When Bloggers Attack!



Mike Morgan, the creator of the gripe site www.GoldmanSachs666.com (clever Number of the Beast constitutionusage there, Mike) did what many bloggers often talk about but rarely do; he went on the legal offensive.

Morgan set up this site at the end of March reports MediaPost, and received every blogger’s dream; a cease and desist letter from corporate America. In this case the lawyers for Goldman Sachs, who just yesterday made headlines by looking to repay TARP funds they received during the Great Bailout of ’09, were concerned that Morgan’s URL would infringe on their trademark.

In a move to help his cause Morgan has since filed a complaint in federal district court in the southern district of Florida stating

…that he owns the domain name GoldmanSachs666.com, which he uses “to display news and commentary” regarding the bank.

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.

Morgan’s lawyer, Joseph Beckman sums it up in a very polite way stating Morgan

“….. 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.”

If recent legal precedent prevails, Morgan stands to do pretty well. There has been little sympathy from the courts regarding corporate complaint sites like Wal-Mart’s www.walocaust.com and www.walqaeda.com. Morgan clearly states his relationship to Goldman Sachs at the very top of the homepage of his site and every subsequent page with the following.

This website has NOT been approved by Goldman Sachs, nor does this website have any affiliation with Goldman Sachs. This website was designed to provide information about Goldman Sachs direct from the public, and NOT from Goldman Sachs’s marketing and public relations departments. You may find the official Goldman Sachs website at www.GoldmanSachs.com

Since you are at the site of one of the premier online reputation monitoring experts in the world how would you suggest that Goldman Sachs and Mr. Morgan go forward from here?

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    The big problem is that Goldman Sachs’ lawyers opened up the reputation can of worms with their cease and desist letter. That basically brought the site to the attention of everyone. Whoever created the site is what I call a “determined detractor” — just look at the other “666” site’s they’ve created!

    You’re right about the legal precedent here. Trademark laws protect the owner from someone using the mark to confuse or pretend to be the company in question–that’s clearly not happening here, so it’s just bullying by Goldman Sachs. And it appears to have backfired, big time!

  • http://jessicagottlieb.com Jessica Gottlieb

    I’m taking notes and snickering.

    The more attention GS pays to it, the more folks will see it. I’m sure glad I’m not in PR.

    Jessica Gottlieb’s last blog post..Birth Rape And Infant Mortality

  • http://promomanagers.wordpress.com Owl

    I actually cannot see this being much of a big deal. There was a case several years ago between Nissan and a man with the same last name. You can check it out by going to http://www.nissan.com and you’ll see a reference to the case across the top. This stuff has been going on for a long time, Mr. Nissan has every right to the name.

    The Goldman Sachs issue is a tougher one, he is technically using their name. I sense a landmark case.

    Owl’s last blog post..Putting Some Thunder into Your Message

  • http://www.search-marketing-answers.com/blog Alan Bleiweiss

    If only factual information is posted to the site, then the only question is whether the domain name itself would need to be changed, rather than the site taken down. as Owl states, I too think it may be a landmark case, though there are so many sites out there of this nature that precedent may have been set – I just can’t recall if that’s the case.

    If the courts shift and don’t allow detractor sites to remain online, one of the last and only true “big” defense weapons consumers have that don’t require big bucks would be gone. So I doubt that would occur.

    Alan Bleiweiss’s last blog post..Deceptive SEO Tactics – The Case of the $798 SEO Guru

  • http://affinitymediapartners.com/ Diana Singleton

    I think Morgan has done the right thing. He offers their website on the top of the page and expresses the fact that he isn’t associated with the bank. What more can you ask for? Unless you want to infringe upon our civil liberties and yadda yadda yadda.

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  • http://www.terryhoward.net/ Terry Howard

    If Goldman Sach accepted bailout money that would make any tax payor effectively a shareholder in the company. Not that I think that is some legal stance of merit, but interesting to think that who are they complaining about? Their own ownership, that’s who. They need to suck it up and deal with their much much much bigger problems.

    Terry Howard’s last blog post..Social Media Marketing: Network Responsibly

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