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July 2018
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University Of Illinois Bullies Alum Out Of Making 'Make Illinois Great Again' Shirts Through Tiny Settlement

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You will recall that earlier this year we discussed the University of Illinois' attempt to trademark bully an alumnus out of making orange and black shirts that read "Make Illinois Great Again." The whole story surrounding the school's actions is somewhat more complicated than it might appear. Part of the issue is that the shirts in question used the image of Chief Illiniwek, something of a mascot the school abandoned a decade ago, and one that was the source of controversy given its cartoonish mannerisms as related to Native American tribes. So, when the school first objected to Ted O'Malley's trademark application, and then later filed suit against him, you should understand that it was done as the school remains under public pressure to disavow the previous use of this imagery. All of that being said, claims that the school's trademark gives it the right to control the word "Illinois" on all apparel were obviously silly.But trademark bullying works, as we've stated many times in the past. And it tends to work all the more when the bully has a large war chest to fund its legal team and the victim is a much smaller, much less well-funded entity. Such appears to be the case with O'Malley, who has settled with the school and essentially agreed to its demands in return for a measly $7,500 payout.

The University of Illinois is paying $7,500 to the Chicago-area alum who made T-shirts that said “Make Illinois Great Again” on the back and had a drawing of Chief Illiniwek on the front. In exchange, Ted O’Malley has to stop selling the shirt and agreed not to sell similar T-shirts in the future.The UI reached a settlement with O’Malley after suing him in March for violating its trademarks for the word “Illinois” and a copyrighted photo commissioned by the UI of the Chief holding up his arms. The UI has also agreed not to challenge O’Malley’s “Make Illinois Great Again” trademark and to dismiss its lawsuit.
Ok, so you may read this and conclude that it's not a full win for the university. And that's true in that O'Malley no longer faces the lawsuit, no longer has to worry about the copyright component of the legal action, and gets to keep his "Make Illinois Great Again" trademark. What such a conclusion would ignore is that the real aim of the school in all of this was, again, to keep an alumnus from using any imagery of a mascot it itself used to embrace but has since abandoned. The school's real issue here isn't trademark or copyright violations, but rather making sure it appears to act to keep images of the Chief from being displayed at all.Put another way: if O'Malley had done everything exactly the same but had never used an image of the Chief on his shirts, the school likely would never had taken any action against him whatsoever. Cast in that light, the school essentially misused intellectual property law in order to attain an unrelated goal. That's trademark bullying. And, for $7,500, it got what it wanted. Keep in mind that part of the point of the shirts were commentary on the state of the University of Illinois and, specifically, its athletic programs.
With the settlement, O’Malley agreed to no longer sell “Make Illinois Great Again” clothing that is orange and blue or that uses any of the UI’s trademarks, logos, symbols or landmarks, such as Chief Illiniwek, the Alma Mater statue or Memorial Stadium.If he makes “Make Illinois Great Again” clothing in the future, he agrees not to make athletic clothing or to use a font similar to the “Fighting Illini” font. He also agreed not to use the “Make Illinois Great Again” trademark to “disparage or impugn” the UI, something his lawyer, Doug Johnson, did before the lawsuit was filed.
So the school used taxpayer money to silence a critic using an embarrassing old mascot's image by being an IP bully. That's not a great look for a public institution.

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posted at: 12:19am on 25-Jul-2018
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Wikileaks Refused To Publish Paul Manafort's Texts, So Someone Else Did

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We just wrote about why it would be a dangerous move for press freedom for the DOJ to prosecute Julian Assange for publishing leaked documents. In that post, we noted that even if you think Julian Assange is a horrible human being and proactively trying to undermine US electoral sovereignty, the mere act of publishing leaked documents should not be criminal. But, that doesn't mean that Assange can't be hypocritical and one-sided. Obviously, during the 2016 election, when Wikileaks helped spread both John Podesta's emails and the DNC's emails, some wondered if Assange would have published similar messages from the Trump campaign. While publicly Assange insisted he disliked both campaigns equally, other reports and leaked (of course) chat messages certainly suggested otherwise, as did at least some of his apparent attempts to ingratiate himself with Trump insiders, including asking Don Jr. to leak his father's tax returns to Assange to "dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality."Of course, when faced with an opportunity to post the equivalent of the Podesta emails on the Trump side, it appears that Assange decided not to do it. Public records-savant Emma Best recently chose to publish the entire collection of leaked Manafort texts in a searchable database. These texts have long been out there and available if you knew where to look -- and had received widespread reporting in early 2017. However, beyond the excerpts, they were not fully available in a way that was searchable for most users.Best communicated with Wikileaks, who admitted that it had the entire collection as well, but chose not to publish it -- which certainly can be read as hypocrisy on Assange's part, considering the similarities with the Podesta emails. As Best notes in discussing the decision to publish these in a more accessible format:

The public haven't had access to the messages, and the press (including high profile and high budget outlets) haven't had access to an easily searchable version - instead only to an unwieldy database.This was nearly not the case, however - WikiLeaks had a copy of the database, but ultimately didn't publish it, despite its newsworthiness and their willingness to publish unredacted information on the Democrats. Their unexplained decision not to put the database into a searchable format and make it public struck me as questionable at the time, but in light of the disclosure of their preference for the GOP it has become not only questionable, but hypocritical. WikiLeaks' decision can no longer be trusted prima facie or viewed in terms of presumed good faith.
[....]This noteworthy refusal, along with ongoing probes and charges filed against Manafort by the Special Counsel's office, makes the text messages and their contents undoubtedly newsworthy. Their relevance to the general public may go beyond this, as the personal reality reflected in the messages presents the Manaforts as real people, rather than merely as abstract figures. This same reality is, of course, also relevant to news and current events, and to understanding the character and actions of those involved.
There may be reasons why Wikileaks chose not to publish these texts, but the fact that it eagerly published the Podesta emails, yet held back on publishing these texts should at least raise serious questions. Obviously, every publisher makes different decisions on what to publish and what not to publish. And there's no rule saying that you absolutely must publish every "equivalent" set of data or stories. But given all of the background here, and the high profile nature of this, it is noteworthy to point out the different approaches Wikileaks chose to take with two similar sets of data on different sides of the 2016 election.

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