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Green Shift Inc. claims to have received “…numerous angry and threatening calls and emails …”


 

… from people who mistakenly assumed there was an association between the plaintiff and the Liberal Party, or their environmental tax program.”

I can’t help but wonder – still –  whether these calls “angry and threatening calls” just happened to start around the same time that word began to spread through conservative-leaning channels of the Canadian blogosphere that there was, in fact, another “Green Shift” out there; one that found the Liberals’ apparent imitation far from flattering? Perhaps it’s time to revisit the ITQ Online Outrage Tracker, which has the full timeline of a controversy that went from zero to headline news in just one day.

I just find it difficult to come up with a plausible scenario in which an ordinary, non-politically motivated person looking for more information on the Liberals’ Green Shift would be so outraged by a domain name collision that they would take the time to email, fax and even call up the company in question, just to lambaste the owners over a supposed “association” with the Liberal Party — especially after the squabble between the competing Green Shift-ers went public. I mean, when Jim Flaherty christened the 2007 budget “Aspire Canada” did it result in a flood of furious phonecalls to the company behind the Aspire credit card?  More and more, it seems as though Ms. Wright has unwittingly allowed her company – and herself – to be hijacked by those with a purely political purpose – which, ironically, may eventually damage her reputation far more than any supposed link to a party platform.

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Green Shift Inc. claims to have received “…numerous angry and threatening calls and emails …”

  1. That’s the thing I don’t get… does she just not realize the fact it’s muckrakers going after her? Can she possibly be that obtuse after so long?

    The quesiton as to damage to the company will really depend on two things:

    a) Are her true potential clients (not masquarding bloggers) confused as to the link between her company and the liberals (and if so, wow).
    b) Do her existing clients feel “tarred” by the liberal brush and not willing to give her any more money?

    I doubt she can prove either.

    Her lawyers must feel it is to their advantage to have pimply-faced pale bloggers call her and complain, as they feel it will serve to strengthen her case.

    The problem is, is there any court or empanneled jury out there who would buy the argument? I doubt it.

  2. That’s two posts now Kady that you haven’t been slapped by Conservative trolls. That alone is hard to believe.

    Wait until Ms. Wright ha to produce lists of clients past and present to determine so-called damages. Wait until some of those so-called clients have to testify as to why they left the Green Shift. Me thinks the lady doth protest 2 much…and at the risk of losing the rest of her clients for draggin’ them into a fight they don’t want to be a part of.

  3. Scott,I don’t get it either. It’s seemed obvious from the outset.

    I wonder if she’ll have to produce the e-mails and phone logs of all those who contacted her?

  4. Why is my BS detector spinning like an anemometer during Hurricane Katrina?

  5. Kady

    I think your implausibility meter is bang on. So much of this doesn’t pass the smell test especially when you consider the alternatives to how she handled this situation. If I had been thinking of purchasing her services I would’ve had second thoughts after seeing her press conference. She did not impress me at all. At the time I couldn’t help thinking that the companies who didn’t want their names used said so because they might be embarrassed by her behaviour.

  6. “Nothing is closer to my heart than toilet paper”.

  7. So, what if Green Shift’s business INCREASES due to the efforts of the Liberal Party in highlighting environmental solutions? Will they profit share with the Liberal Party?

    I think that is the more likely scenario – increased business through media exposure and even with possible confusion amongst the public.

    Any publicity is good publicity. Time for Green Shift to move on, back to work, and build on their fifteen minutes of fame.

  8. The Liberals have adopted a strategy similar to one used successfully
    in Australia in order to get elected.

    The actual plan looks like it was photocopied word for word from
    the Green Party site.

    And the Liberals have chosen to use a name for the plan that was already
    in existence.

    Three strikes and O points for originality.

    Note to Dion: The objective is to contrast yourselves to the Conservatives
    and not to emulate them.

    P.S. Do not be quoted along with Doug Ferguson. It sounds too much like Doug
    Finley and is very confusing.

  9. Does the owner of a trademark have to wait for actual damage to the mark to occur before filing a suit to defend the mark?

    I don’t believe the law would require this. If someone infringes on my trademark, I don’t have to wait for my own trademark to be ruined by the infringement before taking legal action. I will act to defend my intellectual property immediately as soon as I am aware of the infringement.

    Is some of the Green Shift “traffic” being generated for partisan reasons from Conservative or NDP leaning sources? Unquestionably…

    Does it matter for the purposes of the suit?

  10. For me, it all comes down to the question: which party is nastier and given to low-down tricks, CPC or Liberals? Encouraged do I feel to give my answer to this question? No. Still, it is all a mess. The Liberals should find a new name for their strategy.

  11. How about a bullshift program? Everyone get behind it and push, watch out it’s slippery.

  12. joh g: you wrote “Does the owner of a trademark have to wait for actual damage to the mark to occur before filing a suit to defend the mark?”

    Ms. Wright currently does not own the trademark so your question is not really relevent here.

  13. correction: should be “relevant”, not relevent.

  14. Ms Wright should have done very little. The Green Shift Inc. could have done well if they had just complained and then left well enough alone. Now the company (J Wright) is looking a bit grabby with the value of the claim.

  15. john g: You ask, “Does the owner of a trademark have to wait for actual damage to the mark to occur before filing a suit to defend the mark?”

    Not exactly, but even if they can’t show damage has occured, they have to show damage will occur. Presumably, that’s what the bulk of the $8.5 million is about: future damanges.

    (And now, time for some armchar wannabe lawyering!)

    As pointed out in other comment threads, the “Green Shift” trademark is a weak trademark (contrast it with “Kodak” or “Pepsi”), one that’s been used many other places, and one that’s not terribly well known. Defending a weak trademark is difficult.

    Green Shift also has to show projected damages, which more or less amounts to them finding business clients willing to admit they’re worried about a political connection. That might be a tall order. How many businesses want to go on record admiting they don’t do their homework before entering into a business partnership?

    This is different from someone at a supermarket being confused between, say, two kinds of similarly named brands peanut butter. A business partner is assumed to be better informed about the products and services they’re buying. That makes it much more difficult to show confusion is being caused.

  16. The Aspire comparison is irrelevant. A company is entitled to defend its interests under the law irrespective of what any other company does. What would have been relevant was if Aspire HAD challenged, and lost.

  17. I think it’s relevant, Mark. I cut up my Aspire card when I heard about that – I can’t stand Flaherty! I have no idea what a credit card company was thinking by endorsing a federal budget but I wanted no part of it.

  18. I was just about to explain to Mark how I wasn’t thinking of the legal precedent, but of the likelihood that someone would not only confuse a commercial product with a political platform, but actually get angry at the manufacturer/retailer of that product, but Confused Consumer beat me to it. And made me giggle besides.

  19. “More and more, it seems as though Ms. Wright has unwittingly allowed her company – and herself – to be hijacked by those with a purely political purpose – which, ironically, may eventually damage her reputation far more than any supposed link to a party platform.”

    Or, perhaps Ms. Wright has wittingly allowed her company and herself to be hijacked by those with a purely political purpose. I mean, her company having the same name as the cornerstone Liberal policy for the next election and thus raising the awareness of her company was blind luck. But launching a lawsuit against a major political party that keeps her company’s name in the news for weeks or more is pure genius if you ask me. Having an opportunity to blame the whole fiasco on the outrage of potential customers is just the icing on the cake.

  20. I don’t thnk it is relevant whether or not she received the calls(I would agree that they are suspicious though). Brand is a big big deal for companies. You work hard managing your brand, creating a positive association with your company name that you can trade off. It is the single most important thing a company can do to ensure its ongoing suceess.

    Personally, I think it was a brilliant choice of a name for the Liberals carbon tax plan. It inferred the concept of “environmentalsism” and an “equitable shift in taxes” all in one quick name. Excellent. But the brilliant thinking stopped there. Dion, Garth and crew failed to understand that the company they already knew had the name would feel just the same way about it. Not only had Jennifer Wrights company already registered the name, they probably started managing the brand too. Possibly spending money building awareness of the company under the Green shift name, but also supporting local communities, giving to charities, and other such acivities. All in the name of presenting ones company as a good corporate citizen. To have an interloper, regardless of who they are, both profit from your investment and muddy the waters at the same time would be unthinkable, regardless of what political party one belonged to. Like I said, the calls are suspicious, but the issue remains the same. This was a serious, unforced error on the Liberals part.

  21. “But launching a lawsuit against a major political party that keeps her company’s name in the news for weeks or more is pure genius if you ask me. Having an opportunity to blame the whole fiasco on the outrage of potential customers is just the icing on the cake.”

    sbt, so you actually think that her customers would want to be associated with her company after seeing that press conference of hers?

    I think you are dead wrong. Wright has pretty much ensured that her company will lose business.

  22. “sbt, so you actually think that her customers would want to be associated with her company after seeing that press conference of hers?”

    I’m not exactly sure where you’re going with this question. The customers main concern would likely be being attached to anything that was overtly partisan. The Liberals are the ones who caused that problem, not Ms. Wright.

    Ms. Wright could have simply stated she had no involvement with the Liberals and put a disclaimer on her website. However, in suing, other than the whole brand protection arguments that have been made and are important, she also gets the added advantage of extra TV exposure time for her company, which was really my point. You can’t buy that kind of advertising (Had you ever heard of Green Shift Inc. before?)and the only people she is really irritating are the people who caused the whole mess in the first place.

    As for the press conference (which I had to look for on their own website to find), it was quite a predictable playing the outraged victim of a tiny company doing good and being bullied by a much bigger organization. What’s wrong with it?

  23. “I’m not exactly sure where you’re going with this question. The customers main concern would likely be being attached to anything that was overtly partisan. The Liberals are the ones who caused that problem, not Ms. Wright.”

    Oh no? So you do not think that coming to Ottawa to hold a press event on Parliament Hill has officially politicized her company?

  24. “Oh no? So you do not think that coming to Ottawa to hold a press event on Parliament Hill has officially politicized her company?”

    In a word, no. The press event was free exposure and advertising for her company. As a businesswoman she’d be crazy not to take advantage of that opportunity.

    The ones guilty of politicing this are the Liberals. The fact that they have forced her to take legal action against a political party to defend her intellectual property is what has made this political, not her press conference; it can’t be anything BUT political.

    Faxing her statement of claim to Lib HQ and referring questions to reporters wouldn’t change that basic fact. It would just deny her lots of free media exposure for her company. Why should she, as a businesswoman, turn that down because the Liberals will be (rightfully, in my opinion) embarrassed by it?

  25. john g, do you want me to go and get the quote where you originally agreed with my assessment of her having politicized her organisation by holding this press event?

  26. Don’t bother boudica, I remember agreeing with you at the time.

    This is what I agreed to:

    “I’m simply expanding on an earlier point I made which was that the media event she organized yesterday pretty much sealed her fate in terms of being viewed as politically motivated.”

    And I do agree that her suit will be perceived as politically motivated. And the extra media attention from the press conference will generate extra criticism to that effect.

    But it would be perceived that way under any circumstances. It can’t possibly be perceived as anything different. She is taking a political party to court. One must assume she is not particularly enamoured with said political party.

  27. “Oh no? So you do not think that coming to Ottawa to hold a press event on Parliament Hill has officially politicized her company?”

    No. To my knowledge she hasn’t commented on the actual policy. Her sole concern with respect to a political party seems to be the use of the name. Does it not seem appropriate that if your company was suing a national political party that you would hold a press conference with the national media to explain yourself? That seems like the best way of getting your message out and they were more than willing to report.

    Anyways, I’m not saying whether I think she’s got a case or not. I’ll leave that to the lawyers. But I don’t think this is someone who has been hoodwinked by the Conservative blogosphere. I think she is simply making the best of the situation she has found herself in.

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