Occupied Chicago Tribune: Our Response to the 1% Tribune Company’s Attempt to Seize Our Domain Names

We haven’t tried to seize Trib Tower, so why are they after our home? (Photo: Mark Danielson, Creative Commons)

This story was originally published in the Occupied Chicago Tribune.

In the 8 months since the Occupied Chicago Tribune started publishing as media for the 99 percent, we have been threatened with a lawsuit, challenged on our right to publish and even been told that using the letter ‘T’ in our name could be legally disputed. But despite the continued attempts by the 1% Chicago Tribune to silence us, we plan to continue fighting for our right to political speech in the courtroom or on the streets – wherever it may be under threat.

The latest attempt by the Chicago Tribune to censor us took the form of a stealthily filed attempt to seize our domain name. On June 18, Attorneys Michael Deutsch and Ben Elson of the People’s Law Office filed a response on our behalf and on behalf of the friend of the paper who owns the two domain names, disputing the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) proceeding filed by the Tribune Company.

“This is a case about the fundamental human right of political speech,” the response states. You can read it in full here (PDF hosted courtesy of the Chicago Reader).

The UDRP complaint was made to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) regarding the domains occupiedchicagotribune.org and occupychicagotribune.org. If the UDRP complaint is successful, the WIPO panel would order the transfer of the Occupy domains to the Tribune Company.

The response makes clear why this should not happen:

  • The domain names are neither identical nor confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Tribune Company has rights: “The words ‘Occupy’ and ‘Occupied’ have become synonymous with drawing attention to corruption or other oligarchical misdeeds within an institution.”
  • Contrary to the Tribune Company’s unsupported claim,  “there is no evidence that OCT is attempting to “divert traffic from Tribune sites or [to] unfairly attract for commercial gain Internet users” on the basis of the supposed “goodwill Chicago Tribune has created.” (We at the OCT would question how much goodwill exists.)
  • As a non-commercial entity, OCT is in no way a business competitor of the Chicago Tribune, but rather “a community based, volunteer, non-incorporated, not-for-profit organization that criticizes the biased, corporate news of the Chicago Tribune… Neither the writers, publishers nor the distributors of OCT receive any compensation for their work and the publication is available for free to its readers.”
  • The choice of domain names is not in bad faith, but rather “exercising [the] fundamental political right to contrast, critique and criticize the news reporting of the Chicago Tribune, which acts in the interests of the rich and powerful, with OCT’s efforts to represent the poor and working people of Chicago.”
  • In summary, the OCT “in choosing their domain names and publishing their periodic news broadsheet are clearly exercising their right guaranteed to them under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

The following Occupied Chicago Tribune articles criticizing the Chicago Tribune were attached as an Annex to the response:

A WIPO ruling on the Tribune Company complaint is likely by late July.

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