Deloitte is a trademark bully, claims EFF

30-09-2014

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has branded Deloitte a trademark bully and accused it of “casual censorship” in a dispute with a non-profit organisation.

It comes after the professional services company reportedly told Sunlight Foundation to remove Deloitte’s logos from its website.

Sunlight campaigns for greater government transparency and posts information online about political contributions, including those by Deloitte.

Those postings often include the relevant corporations’ logos so the public can more easily identify the companies.

But according to the EFF, which is representing Sunlight, Deloitte sent the organisation a “polite” cease-and-desist email on September 24 about alleged trademark infringement on its site.

In a blog post, the EFF’s IP director Corynne McSherry said Deloitte has made a “stupid trademark threat” and is a bully.

“As we explained, no person could possibly be confused as to whether Deloitte endorses the Sunlight Foundation or its activities,” she said. “Moreover, it is well-settled that the First Amendment fully protects the use of trademarked terms and logos in non-commercial websites that comment upon corporations and products. Sunlight's site is a clear example [of] such protected expression.

“These are all points that Deloitte could have figured out for itself, if it had bothered to give the matter a moment's thought,” she claimed.

McSherry went on to say that the takedown notice was chilling and that “too often, we see this kind of casual censorship”.

In her emailed response to Deloitte, dated September 30, McSherry told Deloitte that her client will not back down if the dispute reaches court.

“We sincerely hope Deloitte will have the good sense not to trouble a court of law with this matter. However, if you do intend to file suit, please be assured that our client is prepared to defend itself against these spurious claims,” she said.

Deloitte has acknowledged TBO’s request for comment but has yet to provide one. 

Deloitte; EFF; Electronic Frontier Foundation; trademark bully; Sunlight Foundation

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