Subject: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY INFRINGEMENT (BEN CARSON)
September 21, 2015 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Lawyers for Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson recently sent a cease and desist letter (pdf) to CafePress. The reason? To halt sales of all unauthorized Ben Carson For President products, based on the "Digital Millennium Copyright Act, The Lanham Act, Federal Trademark Infringement, Federal Copyright Infringement, state misappropriation and privacy laws."

First Amendment rights lawyer Paul Alan Levy wrote the response (also pdf) for CafePress, carefully explaining why their claims have no merit, stating in the first paragraph that "it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand how baseless these claims are."

In the second paragraph he addss: "It is shocking that a lawyer whose web site touts his expertise in intellectual property law would sign his name to such a communication." He then goes on the rebut each of the charges in the cease and desist letter.

The letter ends with the tale of a similar story from 2008 involving the Republican National Committee's attempts to halt sales of GOP-themed merchandise. It did not end well for the RNC.

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posted by 1367 (56 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
it's harder to fleece credulous rubes with your publicity stunt presidential campaign when you have competition :-(
posted by indubitable at 11:30 AM on September 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


As Wilde observed, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. I'm thinking Ben Carson could do with a little Barbara Streisand right about now and they could not have hoped for a better response from the patsies at CafePress. Well played by the Carson team.
posted by three blind mice at 11:30 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Carson strikes me as a living illustration of a D&D character with 18 INT and 6 WIS. It astounds me how somebody with the undeniable smarts to be at the absolute top of their field in something as demanding as neurosurgery can be so shockingly dumb in basically all other aspects.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:30 AM on September 21, 2015 [45 favorites]


Wait... those are mostly pretty supportive looking designs. They sued about pro-Ben Carson merchandise? That seems extremely stupid.

It also does not sound like the free hand of the market, but I'm kind of taking the Ben Carson approach to looking up what that phrase actually means.
posted by maryr at 11:30 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


it's harder to fleece credulous rubes with your publicity stunt presidential campaign when you have competition :-(

It's rubes all they way down starting from the top.
posted by srboisvert at 11:32 AM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Republicans are very silly people. It would be funny if they weren't fully willing to and capable of smashing the United States into tiny bits and shitting on the pieces.
posted by Naberius at 11:32 AM on September 21, 2015 [12 favorites]


If you need links:

The trademark registration

The cafepress designs
posted by naju at 11:33 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm waiting them to start registering things like Fuck Ben Carson™
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:34 AM on September 21, 2015


Dang, Levy's response is a clear, level, and unequivocal evisceration of Vanel's letter.
posted by entropone at 11:35 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


They sued about pro-Ben Carson merchandise?

I'm assuming it is about which pockets are getting the money from those sales.
posted by nubs at 11:36 AM on September 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Vanel's pdf isn't even formatted well.
posted by maryr at 11:37 AM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


It astounds me how somebody with the undeniable smarts to be at the absolute top of their field in something as demanding as neurosurgery can be so shockingly dumb in basically all other aspects.

Brain surgeons, long burdened with the onerous reputation of being among the smartest people in the world, are expressing relief that the Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson is shattering that stereotype once and for all.
posted by AndrewInDC at 11:37 AM on September 21, 2015 [30 favorites]


This suit is dumb, but if he was suing because parts of the bumper sticker were hidden because of the way they were held in the picture (most egregiously here and here ), I'd be behind him 100%.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:38 AM on September 21, 2015


This is just SEO to link "intellectual" and "Ben Carson" in Google results.
posted by Etrigan at 11:40 AM on September 21, 2015 [10 favorites]


what suit?
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 11:40 AM on September 21, 2015


Vanel's pdf isn't even formatted well.

Nothing about that letter suggests that they were poised for publicity.
posted by entropone at 11:41 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Credulous rubes and their creditous rubles
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 11:44 AM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


MAKE AMERICA ----- AGAIN
posted by miyabo at 11:45 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


three blind mice: I'm thinking Ben Carson could do with a little Barbara Streisand right about now and they could not have hoped for a better response from the patsies at CafePress. Well played by the Carson team.

It's a trap, and we've fallen for it! We're all talking about and looking at those campaign promoting merch! A win for Carson and CafePress!

And when Carson's team loses the case, there'll be even more news articles, and people may buy "unofficial" merch to spite Carson, while others buy more official merch to offset the "impact" to Carson's campaign from those crass commercialists who are making illicit merch. Or, if by some miracle, he wins the case, there will be more news stories and more eyes on the official merch.

The only way for Carson to lose this is if everyone decides this is not really worth their attention and ignores this noise.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:47 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Carson strikes me as a living illustration of a D&D character with 18 INT and 6 WIS. It astounds me how somebody with the undeniable smarts to be at the absolute top of their field in something as demanding as neurosurgery can be so shockingly dumb in basically all other aspects.

I don't think he's dumb in other respects, he's just (apparently) a kinda shitty human being, devoted ardently to selfishness as an organizing principle of social life, who allows the nastiest prejudices and most self-flattering biases to determine his actions and words. Being very intelligent is no different, frequently, than having a powerful instrument; the way it's used is still ultimately up to the person using it, and thus it gets used in accordance with their desires. If you have a fast car, you still need to keep your eyes open to avoid driving into something.
posted by clockzero at 11:47 AM on September 21, 2015 [15 favorites]


It astounds me how somebody with the undeniable smarts to be at the absolute top of their field in something as demanding as neurosurgery can be so shockingly dumb in basically all other aspects.

I really, really wish I could find it, but someone (possibly even on MetaFilter?) did an analysis of his career trajectory, and concluded that he suffered a traumatic brain injury sometime in the last 18 years, which explained the sudden swing in his temperament, and the onset of some pretty serious paranoia and what appear to be intrusive thoughts. Googling for this is useless, of course, because he treated pediatric brain injuries for years...
posted by Mayor West at 11:47 AM on September 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's always baffling how many American conservatives just can't wrap their head around what the First Amendment actually means, but in a case where the supposed infringement is actually speaking on their behalf, you'd think Carson's people would be smart enough to let this one slide. Even if it's depriving them of sweet, sweet campaign cash, they have to understand the epic PR fail of threatening to sue people who are supporting your candidacy when there is no shortage of similarly batshit insane candidates for them to support.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:51 AM on September 21, 2015 [4 favorites]




I really get a kick out of the slogan, "It's Not Brain Surgery." 'Cause, like: Yeah. Exactly. Politics isn't brain surgery. If it were, Dr. Carson, you'd be qualified.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:54 AM on September 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


Brain surgeons, long burdened with the onerous reputation of being among the smartest people in the world, are expressing relief that the Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson is shattering that stereotype once and for all.

I clicked on that fully expecting it to be an Onion article.
posted by fuse theorem at 11:58 AM on September 21, 2015 [19 favorites]


This suit is dumb, but if he was suing because parts of the bumper sticker were hidden because of the way they were held in the picture (most egregiously here and here ), I'd be behind him 100%.

Erica is a fucking idiot.
posted by phunniemee at 12:06 PM on September 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hee hee hee, snot brain surgery.
posted by maryr at 12:08 PM on September 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


It astounds me how somebody with the undeniable smarts to be at the absolute top of their field in something as demanding as neurosurgery can be so shockingly dumb in basically all other aspects.

Hey, this ain't rocket science.
posted by Gungho at 12:10 PM on September 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


...concluded that he suffered a traumatic brain injury sometime in the last 18 years, which explained the sudden swing in his temperament, and the onset of some pretty serious paranoia and what appear to be intrusive thoughts.

Funny coincidence . In Cleveland, while waiting for a bus I ran into a retired black OB/GYN who had worked at Cleveland Clinic (and so was probably pretty good). We chatted and discovered that he had relatives who live near us in St. Paul, one of whom shares my first name. We rode the bus from Shaker Square to downtown together and generally had a friendly discussion. For some reason, we got around to voter ID, about which he was of the opinion that everyone ought to be required to produce it to vote. (Pointing out that many people of color are disenfranchised by that requirement had little impact on him; on the other hand, he didn't seem to have heard the argument before that we are not required to produce identification to exercise any other right and said he would have to think about that.) In discussing that issue, I found out most of his political opinions were pretty much in line with Faux Nooz. Before we reached our destination, he told me he had suffered a stroke a few years before and that's why he retired. I noticed as we got off the bus that he shuffled and was unsteady, something which escaped my notice when we boarded. Now, I am wondering whether his political opinions changed after the stroke or whether he had always thought that way.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:15 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I feel like searching for medical reasons to explain how conservative black professionals came by their shitty opinions is maybe not a great angle to take?
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:23 PM on September 21, 2015 [26 favorites]


I clicked on that fully expecting it to be an Onion article.

I've become adept at detecting Borowitz before clicking on it.
posted by TrialByMedia at 12:30 PM on September 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Since he is probably in need of funding, and GoFundMe won't work out (conservatives can seemingly get rich from their "unfair" treatment in the press or the world), is this a ploy to get people to purchase approved merchandise? Used to be, I would be skeptical of any oddball conspiracy theories like this one, but now it's mainstream!
posted by Chuffy at 12:33 PM on September 21, 2015


It astounds me how somebody with the undeniable smarts to be at the absolute top of their field in something as demanding as neurosurgery can be so shockingly dumb in basically all other aspects.

Is Ben Carson the absolute top brain surgeon? Is there a rating system for this sort of thing?
posted by Chuffy at 12:35 PM on September 21, 2015


I think looking for medical reasons is fine, no matter what the race of the person. I don't know if Carson did suffer any sort of serious neurological changes, but he seems to have gone from a kind, nuanced person to a raving right wing loony. I've seen similar changes in my relatives as they age. Most of us probably have. We're also watching Richard Dawkins age into something deeply unpleasant.

All I knew of Carson before now was his life of good deeds. Perhaps he's always held these hateful beliefs and I just didn't know. But his behavior is following an old pattern common to many, and it's not insulting to him (or racist) to pointlessly speculate as to why he's now acting this way.
posted by honestcoyote at 12:37 PM on September 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't think he's dumb in other respects, he's just (apparently) a kinda shitty human being, devoted ardently to selfishness as an organizing principle of social life

Obviously then, it was the wrong D&D reference:
ALIGNMENT: LAWFUL EVIL "Dominator"
A lawful evil villain methodically takes what he wants within the limits of his code of conduct without regard for whom it hurts. He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion.
posted by happyroach at 12:40 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Carson strikes me as a living illustration of a D&D character with 18 INT and 6 WIS.
~
And when Carson's team loses the case, there'll be even more news articles, and people may buy "unofficial" merch to spite Carson, while others buy more official merch to offset the "impact" to Carson's campaign from those crass commercialists who are making illicit merch. ... The only way for Carson to lose this is if everyone decides this is not really worth their attention and ignores this noise.
~
It's always baffling how many American conservatives just can't wrap their head around what the First Amendment actually means, but in a case where the supposed infringement is actually speaking on their behalf, you'd think Carson's people would be smart enough to let this one slide.
~
I don't know if Carson did suffer any sort of serious neurological changes, but he seems to have gone from a kind, nuanced person to a raving right wing loony. ...All I knew of Carson before now was his life of good deeds.

Political threads are extra absurd this time around.
posted by carsonb at 12:43 PM on September 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Now, I am wondering whether his political opinions changed after the stroke or whether he had always thought that way.

Anecdata, but my paternal grandfather became a NY Yankees fan (after a lifetime of rooting for the Red Sox) after having several strokes.

My search-fu is failing me, but wasn't there also a thread that suggested that the same had occurred with Dick Cheney?
posted by combinatorial explosion at 12:46 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Is Ben Carson the absolute top brain surgeon? Is there a rating system for this sort of thing?

Such as Yelp, perhaps? Excerpt from an actual one star Yelp review for a neurosurgeon (but NOT Ben Carson):
Deserves less than 1 star!! Dr ____ appears to have zero concern for his patients. Apparently he's too important to meet with them in person, passes them off onto his RUDE physicians assistant and uncaring staff. Unless you are paying him for a major surgery, you can forget about seeing him in person. Sure, you'll get heavy narcotics, but no real care or concern. FIND A BETTER DR!!!
posted by mosk at 12:47 PM on September 21, 2015


i mean the problem of someone being an expert in one field and assuming that made them an expert in other fields is something socrates talked about fer chrissakes so it's not like we need to invent a reason why Carson might be a good neurosurgeon but may have political opinions you find questionable. it's pretttttty common.
posted by dismas at 12:47 PM on September 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


We have a very talented, very accomplished in his field specialist doctor friend of the family who this past year started a campaign to run for state senate with the worst possible tea party with Jesus platform imaginable. He thinks Ben Carson is just faaantastic and has been flying around the country to various campaign things to get photo ops with him for his own campaign.

Being a good doctor doesn't make you a good politician or even necessarily a good person.
posted by phunniemee at 12:56 PM on September 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


I wish somebody would seek out and interview Dr. Carson's past patients. I've not seen any proof that he was ever a "good doctor", just "good at avoiding documented claims of malpractice" as have some other doctors I have encountered who I would not recommend to my worst enemy, or a Republican Presidential Candidate.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:27 PM on September 21, 2015


It astounds me how somebody with the undeniable smarts to be at the absolute top of their field in something as demanding as neurosurgery can be so shockingly dumb in basically all other aspects.

I wouldn't trust my brain to him. And I sure as shit wouldn't trust my country.
posted by tommasz at 1:31 PM on September 21, 2015


I don't think he's dumb in other respects, he's just (apparently) a kinda shitty human being, devoted ardently to selfishness as an organizing principle of social life

Can confirm. My wife is a Hopkins nurse who had to deal with him.
posted by HumanComplex at 1:33 PM on September 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Growing up in the public school system in Baltimore, he was always presented by my teachers as a paragon of what you could achieve if you wanted to. I heard many black kids in my grade saying they wanted to be like him. As I grew up and listened to what he said on local radio as a teenager, well, let's just say I became disillusioned. Let's also say he's fucking crazypants. He still seems to be banking on a 7-year-old mind's perception of him, and it's depressing that it seems to be working for many people.
posted by transient at 1:45 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hey, this ain't rocket science.

MITCHELL/WEBB 2016
posted by FatherDagon at 2:03 PM on September 21, 2015 [18 favorites]


I think I love that clip because it telegraphs the punchline so spectacularly clearly, and is still so satisfying when it lands.
posted by FatherDagon at 2:05 PM on September 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Erica is a fucking idiot

What, nobody? That was GOLD, people.
posted by Hoopo at 2:17 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


If he were a very accomplished black neurosurgeon, but had moderate political views, he wouldn't be nearly as famous. And I'm sure there are many, many such people. So there's some selection bias at work here -- if only crazy people get attention, then all the people with attention are crazy people.
posted by miyabo at 2:35 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


What, nobody? That was GOLD, people.

Erica clearly has a brain issue and needs medical help I don't see why u think cruel jokes at her expense are necessary.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:44 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


She's just walking around intoning who she "AM" & its like we know. We know.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:45 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ooh, now's the perfect time to roll out my CafePress "Bem Canson for Persident 2016" gear!
posted by rikschell at 3:04 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's pointless to dig around for reasons why Ben Carson holds views that we (the proverbial we) believe to be wackadoodle. The underlying assumption is that intelligent people don't (and can't) hold views that we find repugnant -- that, for example, if Carson stopped for a minute and examined his views, he'd wake up out of some stupor and do a facepalm and shout, "How could I have been so insane!" -- when it's demonstrable that many intelligent people, from all walks of life and socioeconomic strata, not just African-American neurosurgeons named Benjamin Solomon Carson, do in fact strongly adhere to those views, whether we disagree with them or not.

Why those views are a form of confirmation bias -- or that our own views can themselves be a form of confirmation bias -- is another, perhaps much more interesting story than that it's possible for extremely intelligent people, including those with whom we can get along on many levels outside of the realm of politics (or whatever arena the objectionable view is from), to hold views that we find not only disagreeable, but horrifyingly and disgustingly objectionable.
posted by blucevalo at 3:50 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


A PhD on neuroscience friend of mine once gave the opinion that most medical doctors were mere technicians, highly skilled, yes, but not necessarily clear or rigorous thinkers. Dr. Carson is an exhibit in that case. Isn't he a creationist?
posted by JKevinKing at 6:34 PM on September 21, 2015


Erica is a fucking idiot

What, nobody? That was GOLD, people.


Hee hee hee, snot brain surgery.
posted by maryr at 6:45 PM on September 21, 2015


not necessarily clear or rigorous thinkers

I don't think any clear or rigorous thinker would ever voluntarily cut into a conscious human being's brain. The thing about surgery is that you have to be very smart, of course, but you also have to have an extreme level of pathological self-confidence also shared by fighter pilots, CEOs, and too many politicians.
posted by miyabo at 12:35 PM on September 23, 2015




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