Occupied Oakland Tribune refuses to give in to intimidation by the Bay Area News Group
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Scott Johnson, Occupied Oakland Tribune
Michael Siegel, Siegel & Yee
(510) 839-1200 x207, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bay Area News Group (BANG), publisher of the Oakland Tribune newspaper, sent a cease and desist letter yesterday to Scott Johnson of the Occupied Oakland Tribune which was met with an immediate rejection.
“There is no way we are going to be intimidated by the Bay Area News Group,” Johnson said. “This is just another effort by the 1% to push around the 99%. While Oakland City Hall continues arresting people on Oscar Grant Plaza for no reason, the Bay Area News Group is now attempting to quash our First Amendment rights. This has got to stop.”
In their cease and desist letter, BANG declared that the Occupied Oakland Tribune’s use of “the Oakland Tribune’s trademarks tarnishes and diminishes the value of these famous names.” But these arguments will hold no water in a court of law, much less in the court of public opinion.
There is no possibility of consumer confusion between the Occupied Oakland Tribune (OOT) and the Oakland Tribune (OT). The OOT uses a different format, graphics, font and layout than the OT. The banner of the OOT clearly distinguishes itself as “Occupied,” referencing Occupy Oakland and the 99%. The OOT is not sold in the same locations that the OT is sold because it is not, in fact, sold at all, but given away for free at protests and events organized by Occupy Oakland. Oakland readers are sophisticated enough to tell the difference between these two extremely different publications. Additionally, since the OOT is not sold, trademark law does not apply.
The OOT is a commentary on the OT and mainstream media in general. It has social and cultural value and the name “Occupied Oakland Tribune” in this instance falls under fair use. BANG’s cease and desist letter is an absurd attack on First Amendment rights against the protected political speech of the OOT.
The Oakland-based civil rights law firm Siegel & Yee has agreed to represent Johnson and the Occupied Oakland Tribune on a pro bono basis. Mr. Johnson and his attorney, Michael Siegel, expect to submit a formal response to the cease and desist letter in the coming weeks.
“We are not afraid of a lawsuit,” Johnson said, “and we are confident that a court would issue sanctions against BANG if they attempted to sue.”
“The struggle of the 99% will not be stopped. We’re here and we aren’t going anywhere.”