Retired Congressman Ron Paul is no longer a public figure and, now that he’s back in the free market, has filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization, an agency of the United Nations, against web sites using his name to promote goods, services and newsletters.
According to the complaint, the Libertarian minded former Congressman claims that certain websites named in the filing (RonPaul.com and RonPaul.org) are using his trademarks for the purpose of profit, and not for the dissemination of information deemed as “fair use”:
The words “Ron Paul” have become synonymous with Dr. Paul’s political writings and discourse.
Ron Paul is the owner of the RON PAUL U.S. trademark. Ron Paul has acquired rights in the mark by virtue of its use Within the United States, including a large volume of sales of Dr. Pauls books. The RON PAUL mark has achieved a secondary meaning associated with Ron Paul sufficient to establish common law trademark rights. RON PAUL has long been associated with Dr. Pauls books, articles, public appearances, and political commentary.
Respondents clearly are using RonPaul.com and RonPaul.org commercially.
When a respondent profits from a domain name, it is not making legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name.
The aforementioned web sites became ground zero for the Ron Paul Revolution campaign, as well as grassroots organizers for the Paul Presidential campaign, and were also responsible, according to the owners of RonPaul.com, for raising millions of dollars in campaign donations during the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections.
In response to the claims filed by Paul, the defendants in the trademark case have posted the following synopsis of their version of events at the web site RonPaul.com:
Earlier today, Ron Paul filed an international UDRP complaint againstRonPaul.com and RonPaul.org with WIPO, a global governing body that is an agency of the United Nations. The complaint calls on the agency to expropriate the two domain names from his supporters without compensation and hand them over to Ron Paul.
On May 1st, 2008 we launched a grassroots website at RonPaul.com that became one of the most popular resources dedicated exclusively to Ron Paul and his ideas. Like thousands of fellow Ron Paul supporters, we put our lives on hold and invested 5 years of hard work into Ron Paul, RonPaul.com and Ron Paul 2012. Looking back, we are very happy with what we were able to achieve with unlimited enthusiasm and limited financial resources.
Last month, after Ron Paul expressed regret on the Alex Jones show over not owning RonPaul.com (in an interview titled “Ron Paul: The Internet Is Our Last Chance to Awaken America“), dozens of supporters urged us to contact Ron Paul to work out a deal.
We sent Ron Paul the following respectful offer [View/Download PDF File], explaining that we’d prefer to keep RonPaul.com due to reasons explained in our letter.
At the same time we offered him RonPaul.org as a free gift so we could keep usingRonPaul.com and he wouldn’t have to use something like RonPaulsHomePage.com.
Incredibly, Ron Paul’s lawyers are trying to use our FREE offer of RonPaul.org against us in an attempt to demonstrate “bad faith” on our part!
Our offer went on to explain that in case Ron Paul insisted on obtaining RonPaul.com, we would prepare a complete liberty package consisting of RonPaul.com and our 170k mailing list.
The value we put on the deal was $250k; we are getting our mailing list appraised right now but we are confident it is easily worth more than $250k all by itself. Claims that we tried to sell Ron Paul “his name” for $250k or even $800k are completely untrue, and there is little doubt that our mailing list would have enabled Ron Paul to raise several million dollars for the liberty movement this year. It would have been a win/win/win situation for everyone involved.
Instead of responding to our offer, making a counter offer, or even accepting our FREE gift of RonPaul.org, Ron Paul went to the United Nations and is trying to use its legal process related to domain name disputes to actively deport us from our domain names without compensation.
Below is a copy of Ron Paul’s complaint and our original offer to Ron Paul. We have 20 days to prepare a response and we are tentatively looking for a lawyer to represent us in this case.
Hopefully it won’t have to come to that!
What in the world is going on? Earlier this week we were hit in the face by Ron Paul’s entirely out-of-character anti-Chris Kyle tweet, and now Ron Paul, the Internet grassroots candidate, who was at the right place at the right time to lead the rEVOLution, attacks his own grassroots supporters through an agency of the United Nations to deport them from their own domain names after 5 years of nothing but unlimited, unconditional support on our part?
Back in 2007 we put our lives on hold for you, Ron, and we invested close to 10,000 hours of tears, sweat and hard work into this site at great personal sacrifice. We helped raise millions of dollars for you, we spread your message of liberty as far and wide as we possibly could, and we went out of our way to defend you against the unjustified attacks by your opponents.
Now that your campaigns are over and you no longer need us, you want to take it all away – and send us off to a UN tribunal?
The question now becomes whether the authors of the website RonPaul.com and its sister site RonPaul.org are its rightful owners after having spent four years developing its content, or, whether Ron Paul’s trademarks and name take precedence.
It’s an interesting case that focuses on property rights, a key element of Libertarianism.
Both parties believe they are in the right.
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