Charles Carreon Has a Point Here

It seems that Carreon is now on a campaign to unmask the person who created a fake twitter account using his name. See Ars Technica. The person set up a twitter account with the handle “@Charles_Carreon” and then began tweeting “abrasively.” Now it seems that he is on a campaign to unmask that person, and presumably add them in to his lawsuit.

The lawsuit itself is still rotten to the core. His theory that the person was “incited by Inman” is absurd. But, if you’re going to satirize someone, you don’t have the right to do it while impersonating them or infringing on their trademark. Carreon’s name functions as a trademark, and he even has it registered. It isn’t trademark infringement to mention his name in a satirical post, nor is it trademark infringement to use his name to make fun of him. But, it seems like infringement to me if you register a twitter account in his name.

UPDATE: Similarly, one of Carreon’s critics has registered http://charles-carreon.com/. Not cool and not too smart. I think that is a violation of 15 U.S.C. 1125(d) and gives Chas a reasonable claim. If you integrate the entirety of someone’s trademark into a domain name, even for criticism or commentary, I think that just might (no cases resolve this issue yet in the USA) create some liability.

So it seems like some Carreon haters are being as dumb as Carreon.

Oh goody, a battle royale of dipshits throwing handfuls of feces at each other in a fucktard arena.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Humble pie, nom nom nom…. At least two commenters, so far, pointed out a flaw in my analysis — where I completely skipped over the “intent to profit” requirement in 15 USC 1125(d).

I still think it is wrong to use Chas’ name without modifiers in the domain name, and I think it was wrong to use his name without modifiers in the twitter account. But, the scales seem to tip against liability for that, absent additional factors.

26 Responses to Charles Carreon Has a Point Here

  1. Todd Erickson says:

    The person on Ars seems to indicate that they’re from Sweden. How will that affect pursuing this? Extradition?

  2. senpai71 says:

    Yeah, he has a point here, but honestly, this is a foreseeable occurrence when you go up against the Interwebs. He should have known what would happen if he went up against The Oatmeal.

  3. Seems like a Chicken Little deal. Sue everybody and hope the only (relatively small) culprit gets exposed in the carnage.

  4. William says:

    I hope he does find who is creating these twitter accounts. Inman doesn’t need or want this kind of support.

  5. Owen says:

    Likely a dead end anyway, considering the Ars user has said that he lives in Sweden.

  6. Actually, just like the creators of http://www.fallwell.com or http://www.shopsatwillowbend.com, the creator of this parody web site may well have a solid defense under the Lanham Act. See Utah Lighthouse Ministry v. Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, 527 F.3d 1045, (10th Cir. 2008); Lamparello v. Falwell, 420 F.3d 309 (4th Cir. 2005); Bosley Medical v. Kremer, 403 F.3d 672 (9th Cir. 2005); TMI v. Maxwell, 368 F.3d 433, 436-438 (5th Cir. 2004); Taubman v. WebFeats, 319 F3d 770 (6th Cir. 2003). There is certainly no ACPA claim here (that is, 15 U.SC. § 1125(d), because no “bad faith intent to profit” is apparent here.

    Some of the press I have seen about the Twitter account suggest that it was used only to send out parodic messages that could not have been confusing about being from Carreon. If so, there may be a sound defense for that too,

    • Paul, I think you’re right. That may be the better argument.

      I still have always disapproved of using the target’s direct trademark or name in a gripe site. I think that Fallwell.com could have communicated its message just as well if it used a different domain name, even if that domain name incorporated Jerry’s full name in it. For example, in my Glenn Beck case, nobody would ever have thought that the domain was affiliated with Glenn Beck. Had the domain been , I would not have wished to defend it.

      But, upon reflection of the legal issues, I think you’ve got the better legal argument.

  7. AlphaCentauri says:

    If it were up to me to make the rules, then a site that is about Charles Carreon, that is not competing in the same line of business as Charles Carreon, and that is not trying to deceive people into thinking it is owned by Charles Carreon (if people are fooled and really think he wrote it, then the satire has failed, after all), then one could make the argument that they have as much right to that domain name as Charles Carreon does. But if the case law isn’t established, fighting that case could be a long and expensive battle.

    • Charles-Carreon.com is clearly trying to deceive — at least initially.

      They could get the same thing across with a domain like carreon-censoriousasshat.com

      • emmelemm says:

        Even though it says “The satirical diary” right in the masthead?

        • JCHarkins2 says:

          Somehow I think the web page heading of Censorirousdouchebag would be entirely representative of what has been a fairly well educated (yet lacking anything like common sense, goodwill, a sense of humor, or decency), and if you gloss over that sentence like I did when I first read the site, some posts, especially after reading the couple’s message board site, tend to make a fair amount of…sense for lack of a better term.

  8. IANAIPL, but doesn’t 1125(d) require an “intent to profit” from the mark?

  9. Ann Bransom says:

    Perhaps we should consult Joey Ramone for his opinion on the matter.

    http://joeyramone.org/

  10. Nicholas Weaver says:

    Oh, and a bonus, this is one of Chares Carreon’s actual sites (hosted on the same server as the American Buddha site): http://joeyramone.org/

    I don’t see any qualifiers in that domain name…

    And since it advertises his book, there is at least some commercial purpose involved in Carreon’s site, unlike the fake-Carreons who try desperately to keep up with the real-Carreon’s insanity

  11. William says:

    Two recent interviews with Carreon:

    http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/win-lose-or-draw/Content?oid=13970862
    In this one he admits the initial letter was a mistake(kinda)

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/06/the-persecution-of-charles-carreon/
    In this one it seems he is trying to spin the situation into his favor, claiming the suit is simply an attempt to ensure that he is doing this all for the sake of charity.
    A smart move I suppose, from a business perspective. Hes trying to improve his PR, but from an ethical standpoint there is so much wrong with him.

    I doubt this sudden change in goal will fool the public, but it was a clever attempt.

  12. [...] had this Ann lady call me a clothespin eater. I’ve had my peers shoot down my every legal theory. I just… I’m not feeling so high on life right [...]

  13. [...] Carreon’s service mark, which First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza casts some cold water on here, as such mark infringement claims are only viable where the registrant has a bad-faith intent to [...]

  14. Joe says:

    I don’t think the parody Charles-Carreon site is actually doing anything illegal. Namely because it’s clear that (1) there is no intent to profit and (2) that the site is a satire. I think this situation is very different than the situation with Crystal Cox since Cox’s sites promote her vitamins and other businesses (profit) and also because Cox alleged several pieces of information as fact when they were not and because her sites were clearly designed to promote that information as fact in order to damage the reputation of someone else (not satire but designed specifically to damage someone else). Additionally, Carreon has done such a spectacular job of smearing his own reputation that I doubt anyone else could tarnish it further. It seems to me the site will fade into the background as did the tumblingCox site, when the target of its parody falls out of the public limelight.

    On the other hand I am very interested in the legal aspects as they apply to the registrars of these domain names. What happens if someone registers a domain using information that later turns out to be both fake and untraceable? Worst case they could shut the site down, but there would be no way to go after the original registrant.

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