A Georgia man had a creative way to protest against some of Wal-Mart’s policies — he created t-shirts and bumper stickers that said things like “walocaust” and “wal-qaeda“, terms which are obvious parodies of Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart sued the guy for violating their trademark, but the claim was rejected today by a federal judge in Atlanta. Paul Alan Levy, a Public Citizen attorney who was defending the man, had this to say:
“This ruling shows that even the biggest company in America is subject to parody, and that trademark rights must yield to the right of free speech,” Levy 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.”
In addition, Wal-Mart tried to claim trademark violations for the use of “their” smiley face. However, according to a Techdirt comment, there was a battle for that trademark in 1997 which no one won. In other words, Wal-Mart was claiming a trademark violation on something they didn’t even own the trademark for!
So how this this a case of the Streisand Effect? Had you ever heard of “walocaust” or “wal-qaeda” before? Me either. Apparently this guy had only sold one shirt (for $5.10) before this mess began. Now hundreds of blogs are writing about it, giving this man a chance to show why he thinks Wal-Mart is evil. The reason for his sudden surge in traffic is a direct result of Wal-Mart’s own actions…