U.S Chamber Legal Pursuit — Bad News or Good News for Yes Men’s Business?

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Filed under: Political Pranks, Prank News

Submitted by Alex Case:

US Chamber Files Suit Against ‘Yes Men’ For Fake Briefing
By Ian Talley
Wall Street Journal
October 26, 2009

us-chamber-of-commerce-200Washington (Dow Jones)–The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Monday filed a civil suit in a federal court against the group called the “Yes Men” for a fake press briefing the group held last week at the National Press Club.

The Chamber alleges in the complaint the Yes Men used its copyrighted emblem for a fraudulent press release, conference and Web site, in violation of trademark law.

Acting as representatives of the Chamber, the group falsely said the Chamber had switched its position on climate change policy. The group has claimed responsibility for a raft of public hoaxes on other companies in recent years. Following the stunt, the Yes Men launched for theatrical release in the U.S. a movie about their exploits.

The chamber said the lawsuit was filed after lawyers representing the “Yes Men” refused to decommission the fraudulent Web site, “another bold attempt to increase sales of merchandise and tickets to their new movie.”

“The Chamber is a strong proponent of free speech and encourages public debate on issues of the day,” said Steven Law, the Chamber’s chief legal officer and general counsel. “However, the law is clear that you can’t misappropriate others’ intellectual property for personal financial gain.”

“The defendants are not merry pranksters tweaking the establishment. Instead, they deliberately broke the law in order to further commercial interest in their books, movies, and other merchandise,” Law said.

A call for comment to one of the chief defendants, Jacques Servin, aka Hingo Sembra, who acted as the Chamber representative last week, wasn’t immediately returned.

Servin last week told Dow Jones the risk of prosecution “is a risk worth taking.” He said although lawyers advised against such hoaxes, warning of the legal implications of fraud, others said: “You’ve got right on your side and in the court of public opinion you’ll win.”

The Chamber said it first wants the court to force the Yes Men to dismantle a fake Chamber Web site and then award it cost and damages incurred. Law wouldn’t put a dollar figure on the award they’re seeking.

photo: McCullagh.org