Dozier Internet Law continues with its suit against Ronald J. Riley over the use of anchored text links of our law firm name pointing to Riley's commercial website, and Public Citizen continues to defend Riley. A similar but far less egregious issue arose with Jones Day, one of the biggest law firms in the world, who sued BlockShopper.com for using anchored text links of the law firm name. Of course, anyone with an understanding of search engine optimization knows that an anchored text link is seen as a valuable tool used by the Google search engine to identify a page. It's Google bombing when intentionally deceptive. And Dozier Internet Law still believes strongly that when it convinces Google to return a misleading and confusing and irrelevant commercial result for a commercial purpose and benefit it is trademark infringement.
Jones Day, after a string of early victories including the Judge refusing to consider legal briefs filed by Public Citizen and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has won. In addition to other provisions, the settlement requires the defendant to remove the anchored text links. Of course, the "digital rights" lawyers, from Public Citizen to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, had very publicly attacked the lawsuit as "frivolous", with Paul Alan Levy as the lead blogger ridiculing the law firm.
The Judge in the Ronald J. Riley case has kicked Public Citizen out of federal court twice, without even allowing oral arguments, and when Paul Alan Levy tried to convince the Federal Court to reconsider, the motion was thrown out before we even had a chance to respond. While Public Citizen has publicly chastised our law firm for refusing to go forward because it claims we don't want to lose the case, they have thrown up every roadblock imaginable to avoid...well...having the case move forward. This pervasive refusal has precipitated a hearing at which the Judge will consider entering default judgment for Dozier Internet Law in the case. Public Citizen Litigation Group has a tendency (I'm being a bit charitable) to embrace the ill-conceived notion that if you don't like the facts of a situation, change them to meet your needs. And in these cases, Public Citizen also does not like the law. So it decides what it would like the law to be, and then publicly pronounces it as if they have a monopoly on wisdom.
Let's be clear about the lawsuit we have filed. Riley's use of our law firm name in a link is just one of many, many commercial uses. I am not sure Public Citizen even understands SEO or the business processes of the web adequately to distinguish between commercial use and free speech. What they won't blog about is that after Public Citizen got involved, Riley changed the links we were complaining about in the lawsuit. They have already caved in. But there are many, many other improper commercial uses of our name still on the site. We haven't had the chance to educate Public Citizen yet on all the other problems, but I expect once they learn of these, they'll continue to blog about how outrageous our lawsuit is, and continue to attack our law firm, but privately and behind closed doors continue to accede to our demands.
Here's a classic quote from Paul Alan Levy about the Jones Day case: "The fact that they had to make any concession at all is mind-boggling, because this is a meritless case."
That spoken as he and his client have done exactly the same thing in our case. The sheer audacity of misleading the press and netizens to make it look like Public Citizen is fighting the "good fight" is what is "mind boggling". The motivation? Just look at Public Citizen's fund raising efforts. Their foundation has launched a web page focused solely on our case, trying to make money by soliciting contributions from their constituents to keep fighting us, publicly proclaiming our case is meritless and outrageous and on and on. But all the while rolling over on its own constituents.
Oh, by the way, the claims that Riley needs free lawyers and financial assistance? He operates as a not-for-profit, tax free educational organization. They have to file public tax returns. And it looks like the pauper that is Ronald J. Riley netted almost $250,000 in 2007. Who knows what his profits will be in 2008. We'll all find out shortly. If it wasn't for Public Citizen's prominent advertising soliciting members and contributions on the website that is the subject of our lawsuit, one might wonder why Public Citizen sees the need to spend contributor's resources to defend this guy. Free speech? No. It's all about the money.
That's a commercial use.