There is an ever-present effort among corporations, government officials, and public figures to suppress criticism. A new tool in this war on speech is the trademark or copyright, where folks argue that criticism that uses even their name is somehow in violation of intellectual property protections.
Of course, this is all so much BS, and courts have been pretty good about protecting speech in these circumstances, but the need for vigilance never goes away. Example
There's plenty of genuine trademark and copyright piracy out there: people trying to make money off of other people's work, or enjoy it for free. But increasingly, copyrights and trademarks are used by their owners, with the assistance of thuggish lawyers, as weapons to suppress satire, criticism, and comment. We've discussed the trend here before — Forever 21's embarrassing attack on a humor site,Ralph Lauren threatening lawsuits against people who comment on its freakish photoshops of models,Meghan McCain's attempt to use the California "right of publicity" to suppress parody of her awful writing, the TSA attempting to criminalize use of its logo,scummy telemarketers arguing that people criticizing them are violating the trademark in their name, andthe Guinness World Records people reacting to a hilarious screenshot with trademark threats. [Now that I look at it, I think we need a tag for this.] Sometimes the copyright and trademark thuggery goes meta, as whenjackass attorneys send cease-and-desist letters, claim copyright in the letters, and threaten suit if they are released and discussed.
The rest is worth reading, written in Ken's, uh, trademark style that is both informative and enjoyable. Like Ken, I have to confess to a deep befuddlement as to the appeal of Louis Vuitton gear, which generally look like brown Hefty bags with a pattern printed on it. Why someone would go to the effort of copying them seems as odd to me as building a replica of the Peabody Terrace apartments where I used to live in Boston.