Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on October 14th, 2008

Law firm sues website for linking to it

Today the tech news website Techdirt reported a lawsuit that makes me seethe. The large and influential law firm Jones Day is suing Blockshopper for copyright infringement. Blockshopper reports publicly available real estate sale information on its website. The law firm argues that "linking to its web site dilutes its trademark and creates a likelihood of confusion." What?!?

Anyone can see the insanity of this argument. Linking to a website doesn't dilute its trademark. On the contrary, it strengthens it. Should webmasters be wary of linking to certain websites for fear of these types of lawsuits? I don't think so. Blockshopper is not being sued for publishing defamatory content about the law firm, it is not being sued for imitating the firm or publishing non-public information. They're being sued simply for linking. This seems to be an isolated case of a big, nasty law firm harassing a tiny website because they don't like what they said...even though it wasn't anything bad - just publicly available fact.

It seems to me that Jones Day is doing itself more damage by suing than Blockshopper ever did by linking in the first place. I'll keep my eyes on this and let you know how it turns out.