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irregular times logoThink Blue 2008:
a Before and After Tale of Silly Turf Battles and Redemptive Communication

In these dark days after the 2004 election, when Republicans control all branches of government and most major corporations, it's a time when liberal Americans ought to be reaching out to one another, in cooperation, to try to build networks of mutual support to deal with the many challenges to come. In this time of conservative threat, it is frustrating to see fellow liberals turn their energies on each other.

A Happy Ending

This story ends well. After we started writing about the silliness of a liberal website trying to claim exclusive ownership of a phrase everyone's been using for some time, the folks at Think Blue thought about it... and then called us up to agree and apologize.

They said it was a matter of getting bad advice from their lawyers. They said it was a bad idea and they take it all back. They said they'd never do it again.

Great, we told them. (They have lawyers? Very California...) We even told them we'd link to their website to help them out. And so we gladly have -- because, honestly, what are we really struggling against here?

That's right: the military debacling,
environmentally polluting,
Lie-la-Lying,
responsibility-shirking,
torturing,
science-hating,
racist
mandate of the Bush administration.

Earlier this week, we had an unfortunate encounter with one such web site this week. It started with an email from a company that we do business with, telling us that they had been independently contacted by a web site called Think Blue. This web site had sent an email demanding that we stop selling one of our bumper stickers. It seems that this website was in a huff because that bumper sticker used the phrase "think blue" on it. They wrote, not to us, but to others about us:

"We believe that this person has infringed on our copyright rights. We also believe this person has infringed on our trademark (which was filed but is not yet approved)."

This was a silly thing to claim on a number of fronts. First of all, as any first-year law student could determine, "Copyright law does not protect a bare phrase, slogan, or trade name." Secondly, to the extent that "Think Blue" is a trademark, it is one that has been already claimed by multiple entities. As any first-year law student could determine, those entities that have already used Think Blue as a slogan have a prior claim and rights to the trademark as a matter of common law. In San Diego, the city government has had a Think Blue campaign for quite some time now. Democracy for Vancouver is using the "Think Blue" slogan too.

Heck, it's not just in politics. A fellow named Eric Enders has a Think Blue web site devoted to the Los Angeles Dodgers. There's a Think Blue sailboat at think-blue.net. Hell's Bells and cockleshells, someone calling themselves the Whiz tells people to think blue and consider the health benefits of food with blue colors. Indigo Bookstore had a "Think Blue" campaign back in 1999. Thankfully, none of these organizations or people are being so silly as to ask the Think Blue blog and webshop to stop using the slogan.

We don't want to fight with other progressives about who owns what silly little phrase. That's the thing that really bothered us about getting a threatening notice. We could have been, and should have been, allies with the Think Blue web site. At a time when Republicans are in control of the government, steamrolling Social Security, setting up the Eagle Eyes domestic surveillance program and passing legislation that officially allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to operate above the law, progressives have no business fighting with each other over words.

Eyes on the prize, people.
Eyes on the prize.


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