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November 9, 2005
EFF Stops Pharmaceutical Giant from Using Trademark to Silence Medical News Website
Trademark law is supposed to curb consumer confusion -- not stop people from learning the truth about products, especially ones that affect human health. Which is why I'm thrilled to report that EFF has stopped one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, Sanofi-Aventis, from using trademark claims to censor AcompliaReport.com, an independent online newsletter devoted to reporting about a drug called Acomplia.
Acomplia may help people lose weight and quit smoking. It may not. But Sanofi-Aventis has no right to control the flow of information about the drug simply because it has a trademark on the word "Acomplia." Yet that's exactly what the company tried to do, demanding that AcompliaReport give up its domain name. Thankfully, EFF helped the publisher of AcompliaReport forge a settlement agreement, and Sanofi-Aventis backed off.
"The website uses the Acomplia mark solely to refer to Sanofi's product," explains EFF's Corynne McSherry in the official press release. "That use is a textbook fair use."
Oh, yeah -- fair use. That's the part of the law that allows exceptions to an intellectual property holder's exclusive monopoly rights for legitimate, critically important social and cultural reasons. Nice to know it still has a fighting chance on the Internet.
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