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Wal-Mart Loses Online Trademark Case

First Amendment upheld

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A Conyers, Georgia man has won a legal battle with retail giant Wal-Mart who accused the man of violating its trademark for selling T-shirts and other items that featured the phrases "Wal-ocaust" and "Wal-Qaeda."

Wal-Ocaust LogoWal-Ocaust Logo
(Photo Credit: Wal-Ocaust)

U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten in Atlanta ruled that Charles Smith may continue to run his Web sites, www.walocasut.com and www.walqaeda.com. Smith also can continue to sell his parody merchandise that criticizes Wal-Mart the judge said.

"This is a resounding victory for First Amendment rights and sends a clear message to big corporations that would try to use their deep pockets to intimidate and silence their critics," said one of Smith’s attorneys, Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen.

Sharon Weber, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, said the company is going over the decision and considering a possible appeal. "We feel we have a duty to defend our trademarks and other intellectual property," Weber said.

In his ruling, Batten pointed out that Smith has a disclaimer on his "Walocaust" Web site that states it has no affiliation with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The disclaimer also has a link to the real Wal-Mart site for people who want to visit it.

The judge ruled that it was not likely that people would confuse Wal-Mart’s trademarks with Smith’s parodies-"particularly one that calls to mind the genocide of millions of people, and another that evokes the name of a notorious terrorist organization."

 

Wal-Mart Loses Online Trademark Case
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  • http://www.petfoodstory.com/dogs.htm David

    If you talk to any displaced small business store in any town in America, I’d think you’d get a consensus that Wal-Mart is a notorious terrorist organization.

  • http://www.4Me2Wear.com 4Me2wear.com

    I say this gets overturned on appeal.

    This is another case of a Judge legislating from the bench.

    First; I can’t see the parody. I have never heard of Wal-mart having had anything to do with the Holocaust. So what is being parodied? I *can* see the terrorist idea mentioned above geting by as a parody.

    Second; the ruling it  "was not likely that people would confuse Wal-Mart’s trademarks with Smith’s parodies" misses the point. The Judge labels the shirts a criticism. A criticism that is untrue is not a criticism. It is a slander.

    Third; A false comparison can damage the Trademark. If people believe there is an association when there is not, the mark is given a new unfavorable meaning. This then goes beyond First Ammendment rights.

    This guy is using Wal-marts name because he couldn’t sell his shirts without trading on that name.  The simple fact is, a pun is not a parody, and this dope of a Judge can’t seem to tell the difference.

     

     

     

    • Robert

      Do you work for wal*mart or what? Individual rights always trump corperations.

      • Mike McDonald

        Nice idea…. but have you watched any news in the last, say…. 20 years?

        Not exactly how things pan out in the real world.

        Michael McDonald
        Managing Editor
        iEntry, Inc.

  • Guest

    His logo pictured above looks noyhing like the walmart slogan!  No IP violation.  Simple as that!

     

    The parady is in the name, Wal-Whatever.  Simple.