by Paul Alan Levy
In a ruling this week, a Massachusetts trial judge upheld the free speech rights of a documentary filmmaking company against an effort by a Massachusetts software company to use trademark litigation to punish the filmmakers for the portrayal of one of the student leaders in the Tiananmen square protests.
Sidestepping the fact that neither Google nor other search engines rely on keyword meta tags, Massachusetts Superior Court Judge John Cratsley has granted summary judgment on the ground that there was no evidence supporting the claim that any reasonable Internet user might be confused about whether Jenzabar was the sponsor of Long Bow’s web site. The court squarely rejected Jenzabar’s claim based on initial interest confusion, noting that a Google search for “Jenzabar” would turn up multiple results for Jenzabar’s own web pages that users interested in Jenzabar’s own web site could follow. In the event an Internet user clicked through into Long Bow’s critical web pages, and did not want to be there, she could easily go back to the search list and find a different web page about Jenzabar.
The timing of the court’s rejection of Chai’s attack on her critics’ free speech could not be more ironic. Chai is in Norway to attend the award of the Nobel Peace prize to fellow Tiananmen Square protest leader Liu Xiaobo.