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Sometimes trademark owners seem to think that they own ordinary words. In this case, U.K. clothing giant Asos sent a cease and desist letter [PDF] to an EFF client for

registering a domain with the word collusion in it. Our clients domain doesnt have anything to do with clothingits about contemporary U.S. political debates. It is about as far from trademark infringement as possible. Today, we sent a response letter [PDF] demanding that ASOS withdraw its baseless threat.

The full backstory is something of a Russian nesting doll of stupidity. It begins with Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor and current attorney to President Donald Trump. Last year, some Twitter users noticed that Mr. Giuliani was making typographical errors in his tweets in a way that inadvertently created well-formed URLs. A September 15, 2018 tweet read, in part, as follows: #REALNEWS: Woodward says no evidence of collusion.So does Manaforts team.

After seeing this tweet, our client registered collision.so and directed the URL to the Lawfare blogs coverage of connections between President Trump and Russia. Other people have also registered the domain names of Giuliani typos. Giuliani, who was once named a cybersecurity advisor to Trump, falsely claimed that Twitter was invading his tweets.

What does this have to do with clothes, you ask? Well, in October 2018, ASOS launched a new clothing line called Collusion. It describes Collusion as a new fashion brand offering bold, experimental, inclusive styles for the coming age. Not content with a vaguely dystopian branding choice, Asos followed up by sending a threatening letter to our client claiming that the registration of collusion.so infringes its trademark.

Asoss lawyers are accusing our client of taking unfair advantage of ASOS reputation in the COLLUSION brand and the COLLUSION trade mark by luring customers to your website for your own gain. This is absurd. Our client wasnt even aware of the Collusion brand until Asos sent its letter. Our client registered collusion.so as a satirical comment on Giulianis tweet and the state of U.S. politics. No one is going to confuse Lawfares Trump-Russia coverage with Asoss self-described ultimate youth label.

If ASOS and its lawyers had spent even a few minutes looking into things before sending their letter, they would have seen that they have no straight-faced trademark claim. While they might not have known the full backstory, two red flags should have stopped them before they started. First, our client registered the domainbefore ASOS launched its clothing line. Second, the URL points to a page about the political meaning of collusionnot to anything about clothing. Its very disappointing to see a trademark threat over such an obviously unrelated use of a common word.

ASOSs letter to our client opens with large-type red text: Failure to respond to this letter may result in further legal action being taken without further notification to you. The law firm that sent the threat, Stobbs IP, has ahistory of abusing the universal domain-name dispute resolution policy, or UDRP, to try to take control of others domains. If Stobbs IP tried to do that to our client, it would be yet another attempt at reverse domain hijacking. We hope that ASOS and Stobbs IP have enough sense to withdraw their threat.

We also hope that this story serves as a lesson. Far too many trademark holders engage in mindless over-enforcement. Trademark law doesnt give mark holders the right to censor criticism or the power to control the use of ordinary English words. Whether ASOS likes it or not, people will continue to discuss collusion on the Internet.

 

As you may well be aware, GEN as a organisation is all about climate change, low energy and green initiatives. We work hard to ensure that our operations have minimal impacts on the environment and our fleet is no exception. In 2014 we s

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GEN offers a wide range of security decryption services and are able to currently decrypt and/or remove passwords from the following file types: 

APPLICATION / SERVICE

FILETYPES

Adobe Acrobat

PDF

Syman

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As a Draytek Partner,  we supply the full range of Draytek Vigor routers, switches and IPPBX's. We further offer support services for those routers, and via our ISP we can provider xDSL services. Using the more advanced features provided by

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