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Goldman Sachs Bristles at Blogger’s Use of Mark

20 November 2012

Goldman Sachs Bristles at Blogger’s Use of Mark
Investment advisor Mike Morgan’s blog criticising investment bank Goldman Sachs may have gotten under the bailed-out giant’s skin: the bank has threatened to sue Morgan over trademark infringement for his use of the bank’s name at, the web site Morgan is using to criticise the bank and its practices.

Goldman Sachs was bailed out with US$10 billion of public money last year under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and made its first quarterly loss in nearly 10 years at the end of 2008.

Goldman Sachs hired lawyers from Chadbourne & Park to ask Morgan to stop using the domain name, claiming that his use of it interfered with its rights.

"Your use of the mark GOLDMAN SACHS violates several of Goldman Sachs' intellectual property rights, constitutes an act of trademark infringement, unfair competition and implies a relationship and misrepresents commercial activity and/or an affiliation between you and Goldman Sachs which does not exist and additionally creates confusion in the marketplace," said the letter.

The blog, however, makes it clear that it is not affiliated to Goldman Sachs. Near the top of the page, the following words appear in red: "This website has NOT been approved by Goldman Sachs, nor does this website have any affiliation with Goldman Sachs.”

Morgan has responded to Goldman Sachs’ letter by filing a lawsuit asserting his right to use the domain, asking the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida to declare his use of the domain name lawful and not in violation of trademark law.

Lawyers from Pinsent Masons, writing on the firm’s web site, note that domain name disputes are often referred to the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s dispute resolution process. “Though it has in the past found against people running sites using others’ trademarks, it has said that legitimate protest sites should be protected,” said

“The [WIPO] Panel is cognizant of the importance of protecting protest sites that use a trademark to identify the object of their criticism," said a WIPO ruling in which it handed control over to caffeinated drinks maker Red Bull because the site hosted there sold a rival drink and was not a legitimate protest site. "The 'legitimate interest' and 'bad faith' factors should adequately insulate true protest sites from vulnerability under the Policy."

“Taking domain name disputes to court invokes trade mark laws, not the rules followed by WIPO,” said “It also makes an award of damages possible, unlike WIPO proceedings. However, like WIPO, US courts have upheld the rights of non-commercial 'gripe sites' in the past when there is no risk of confusion.”

Morgan, for his part, remains unapologetic. “I believe this company is evil and should not exist. We need to begin to break up companies that have as much control over world finances as Goldman Sachs,” the site says.