NY Stock Exchange Claims Trademark On Any Depiction Of Trading Floor, Threatens TPM

from the ownership-society dept

For quite some time now, we've been detailing the rise of "ownership society," where misleading concepts like "intellectual property" have been so driven into the heads of some people, that they believe they can claim "ownership" of totally abstract things, and then aggressively claim that no one else can make use of them. It's a really sad statement on what we're teaching people when it comes to "intellectual property." The latest such example is that the NY Stock Exchange (NYSE) apparently was able to secure a trademark (2587615) a few years back that appears to cover any representation -- such as a drawing or photograph -- of the NYSE trading floor.

Overbroad enough for you?

Well, the NYSE's senior VP for its "Intellectual Property Group" (the NYSE has a whole IP group?!?) is now threatening the news site Talking Points Memo for writing a story that was illustrated with the following stock photo:
In the view of the NYSE, apparently, posting a photo of the trading floor without its approval is trademark dilution. This is, simply speaking, an amazing stretch of the dilution concept of trademark law. Of course, the very use of "dilution" in trademark law is a stretch of the stated and written explanation of trademark law which is solely supposed to be about preventing consumer confusion from products. Yet, in this case no one is being confused into thinking that the NYSE is endorsing TPM's coverage. And TPM's use is not diluting the NYSE's mark. The NYSE might not like it, but then using trademark law to block that form of speech is completely antithetical to the law's intended purpose, and the general concepts of free speech (and, to clarify: free speech is about the government stopping speech, but that includes a private company using laws to prevent another's free speech).

Thankfully, it appears that TPM has good trademark lawyers they can call on, and they're calling the NYSE's bluff:
TPM is represented on Media and IP matters by extremely capable specialist outside counsel. And we've been advised that the NYSE's claims are baseless and ridiculous on their face. But this is yet another example of how many large corporations have given way to IP-mania, trying to bully smaller companies into submission with inane and legally specious claims of intellectual property rights.

Well, TPM's small but we have big teeth. And we don't like being pushed around. So we're again posting the same picture as an illustration for this post. But really, what's next? Mayor Bloomberg trademarks his face and the city newspapers have to get his permission to publish photos of him so not to infringe the Bloomberg face trademark? Or more likely, the Empire State building trademark's the image of the Empire State building and demands a fee or bars photographs of the New York skyline.
Not only that, but TPM has proposed a contest, asking people to predict what the NYSE will try to stop next. Should be interesting to see the NYSE's response. The proper response would be to apologize, admit that it overreached, and promise not to do so again. The more likely response is silence. The really dumb response would be to press this issue.

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Filed Under: dilution, trademark
Companies: nyse, tpm

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  1. icon
    slander (profile), 27 May 2011 @ 6:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So if you build the PC and install Linux, should you also be required to code a non-infringing BIOS from scratch? You own the motherboard, not the copyright on the BIOS.

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