US Federal Decision Supports Online Political Parody

Parody has long played an important role in intellectual property law and in intellectual property litigation. It should be no surprise, therefore, that parody issues arise with respect to the Internet, and that over the years courts have issued a number of significant decisions involving claims of parody and the Web.Earlier this year, The New York Times reported on a court battle over a website parody of a website operated by Koch Industries Inc., a corporation that describes itself as “one of the largest private companies in the world” and that owns multiple companies involved in a wide variety of industries, including oil, coal, chemicals, fibers, pollution control equipment, forest and consumer products, and commodity trading.3 At the heart of the litigation was the tension between the enforcement under federal law of trademark rights, on the one hand, and free speech concerns on the other.

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