Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And protecting free speech is important too...

Freecycling is a great and easy thing to do.

Unfortunately The Freecycle Network (TFN) sometimes does not follow the true spirit of freecycling itself.

Freecycling started as a free and open grassroots movement -- giving the new word "freecycle" freely to all. Then TFN was formed and later TFN decided to take back what had been given away earlier. Since then, TFN has caused Yahoo to shut down hundreds if not thousands of grass roots freecycle groups in the past few years because they were, well, freecycling -- including the original FreecycleSunnyvale group. FreecycleSunnyvale had to create a new freecycling group in Sunnyvale at after the original was shut down.

Think of this like Goodwill Industries deciding that it owns the word "goodwill" and no one else can use it.

FreecycleSunnyvale continues to work to restore its original group. For documents on this ongoing case see:

Separately, TFN also sued me personally in Arizona for encouraging others to freecycle freely, but TFN lost (badly). See:
The Ninth Circuit Opinion
And google "freecycle 9th circuit" for lots more.

The TFN suit against me was a classic SLAPP suit -- trying to suppress free speech by applying overbearing legal muscle. Although the Arizona District judge was misguided and misinformed, fortunately the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was not. The resulting published opinion from the 9th Circuit established several good precedents to protect others from such abuse in the future.

Abuse of trademark law in this fashion by corporations is quite common, so hopefully this will educate everyone and help those who are wrongfully suppressed (assuming they are able to retain legal counsel).

Personally, I think the TFN SLAPP suit against me sheds a poor light on Paul J. Andre and Lisa Kobialka, the partners working on this case for TFN, and on the law firm they work for.

To judge for yourself about the competency of Paul J. Andre, please listen to him in action in front of the 9th Circuit:$file/06-16219.wma?openelement
(If this link does not work visit and under "Audio" look for and download the recording of the 8/15/2007 hearing 06-16219)
You'll first hear Donald M. Falk representing me, then you'll hear Paul J. Andre representing TFN. Regarding Paul's performance, it is pretty embarrassing. He seems to get frazzled easily, he gets some basic facts wrong, and he makes citation mistakes (you'd have to know the law cited to catch these latter errors).

Paul's poor performance in the hearing is not the sole reason TFN lost although it is indicative of what happened. TFN and its lawyers simply were wrong on multiple accounts and this is called out in the 9th Circuit opinion.


Tim Oey

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