Friday, February 15, 2013

Kinsella: Ron Paul Likely to Lose RonPaul.com Suit

I have a major philosophical disagreement with Stephan Kinsella over his views on IP, which we will debate in early April. However, I am not an IP attorney and hold no strong opinions on how current IP law is interpreted by various legal and other ruling bodies. I find it fascinating, though, that Kinsella, who is an IP attorney, has stated that he doesn't think that Ron Paul will be rewarded ronpaul.com.

During an appearance on Adam vs the Man he states flat out, "My guess he [Ron Paul] is going to lose this suit." (12:58 to 13:56). So I guess the Ron Paul suit is going to also provide insight into how good an IP rulings handicapper Kinsella is.



26 comments:

  1. Hey Robert, it is amazing that you continue to increase your page views by narrowing your niche audience.
    Ever feel like focusing any of that energy at reaching out to folks interested in liberty instead of eating your own?

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    1. Surprised this comment was approved.

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    2. The libertarian portfolio needs Ideological hard hitters as much as it needs the mild compromisers. As Walter Block said: the circle's not a cult, it's ok to disagree and have debates.

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    3. Anon, if Robert is increasing his pages views then perhaps it is time to reconsider your assumptions about how to reach people.

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    4. If you don't like the way he does things, then you don't have to visit his site. Different strokes for different folks should be easy for a libertarian to understand.

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  2. Is Adam wearing a suit and tie? Is he all right?

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  3. Aw c'mon Anonymous. Wenzel is always respectful. Who says there can't be any disagreements among libertarians? The boundaries of property rights are exactly where libertarians should be disagreeing (and do) -- it's a difficult area.

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    1. Who says? Noobs. That's who.

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  4. Lol, a libertarian with "no strong opinions" on federal prison and confiscation of life savings for 'copying' and 'circumvention'. I suppose 'secure for limited times' in the Constitution somehow also implies the life of author plus 99 years?

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    1. You misunderstand Wenzel, he is saying he holds no opinion as to how courts will interpret, that is rule, in the cases. Not how they "should" rule.

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  5. I have no idea if he's going to lose it. But he SHOULD lose it.

    I'm sure Ron Paul supporters of this issue wouldn't mind, since they are of the belief that using the monopoly of force is no big deal if it is for your own interests.

    So if this monopoly should judge Ron Paul has no right to this domain, that should be the end of it for them.

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    1. Maybe if you took a moment to actually read about this issue before spouting your pieties you might actually say something worth reading. What is taking place with the ICANN arbitration is a VOLUNTARY dispute resolution process outside of the state courts system. The owner of RonPaul.com agreed to this mechanism of dispute resolution when he purchased the license to use that URL. As some more astute posters here have pointed out, you do not "buy" a URL but only purchase the right to use it subject to the rules in place.

      So this is a voluntary dispute resolution process in a non-state and non-governmental court. I thought libertarians preferred this sort of conflict resolution over the dictates of the state. Or are there that many libertarians pie-eyed enough to believe that in a libertarian society disputes would not arise? In that case, libertarianism becomes just another utopianist ideology.

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  6. Well if that's the case, then this was a major blunder by RP

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  7. I'm not as sure as Kinsella that Paul's going to lose, but I agree with Tony above, he SHOULD lose.

    This is all about trademark, another form of intellectual property. Without trademark Paul's complaint has no merit.

    And, regardless of what Ron Paul or Lew Rockwell say, ICANN is essentially an arm of the government, with monopoly power to issue licenses for domain names. The only reason to keep it so close to the government is for control.

    BTW, I'm especially looking forward to Wenzel's debate with Kinsella on IP.

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    1. Do people own their own name, or don't they?

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    2. No.

      Try to prevent someone from using "your" name.

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  8. I hope Ron Paul doesn't win this for his sake. Then he goes from being a guy doing the wrong thing, to a guy who tried and failed to do the wrong thing.

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  9. I think the ronpaul.com controversy is a difficult one. I believe both sides have merit to their arguments. It gets down to which base axioms you hold ("designed rights" as Robert puts it) as to whom you think should prevail.

    That said, I also think Ron Paul will lose a court battle. Since the domain name is just a person's name, and Ron Paul is in no way unique (there are many in the country), he'll have a difficult time making an argument that he **should** be the one with the domain. What if another Ron Paul had registered the site? In that case, it would be very plain that Ron Paul would have no superior right to the name just because he is more famous.

    Basically, "Ron Paul" is not a legitimate trademark since he cannot claim ownership to his name over the other people who had that same name before he became famous. Just because the current ronpaul.com owners claimed the name because of Ron Paul's success doesn't really change that trademark status, IMHO.

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  10. Basically, unless Ron Paul the former congressman can prove that he was using "Ron Paul" to sell t-shirts and similar paraphernalia prior to the operators of "ronpaul.com," and did not subsequently abandon the mark, he will likely lose. His other option is to claim trademark "dilution" based on a claim that "Ron Paul" is a famous mark for some product or service, but finding evidence to support that claim also seems doubtful. In addition, he will probably have to overcome a defense of laches that might be asserted based on the rather long time it took him to act. All in all, it doesn't look too promising for him from the peanut gallery right now.

    It is often overlooked that the supposed purpose of trademark law as it exists today is to protect consumers from being misled or confused abut the source of commercial products or services, and not to protect holders of trademarks. This is quite different from copyright.

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  11. I've read the complaint, and know a bit about IP law, and yes, Bob, my "guess" is that Paul will lose, unless they settle ahead of time (which is often what happens when you legally bully the small guys), which may be one reason some of the ronpaul.com posts were pulled down (just another "guess"). I'm an Austrian adherent so realize the future is unpredictable, but hey, this is my guess. I'd be happy to bet on it. Wanna bet, Bob?

    But what is the possible relevance of whether my "guess" turns out to be wrong or right? Let's say it's wrong. Paul wins. what does this prove? That IP is legitimate? That Kinsella is an incompetent attorney? Which proves... what? That IP is justified? I can see it now on HuffPo: "Final Proof that IP is Legitimate: Libertarian Lawyer Was Unable to Predict The Future".

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  12. "Wanna bet, Bob?"

    Like I said, I am not an IP attorney and hold no strong opinions on how current IP law is interpreted by various legal and other ruling bodies. In other words, I wouldn't know how to analyze the situation to understand what odds for such a bet would make sense for me. You see, it is all about the odds. Though, if you are willing to payout a million dollars for my $1.00 bet, I'm all in. I would work with those odds. Wanna bet?

    You also write:

    "But what is the possible relevance of whether my "guess" turns out to be wrong or right? Let's say it's wrong. Paul wins. what does this prove? That IP is legitimate? That Kinsella is an incompetent attorney? Which proves... what? That IP is justified? I can see it now on HuffPo: 'Final Proof that IP is Legitimate: Libertarian Lawyer Was Unable to Predict The Future'."

    You are reading much too much into the post. I had no intention of linking your lawyerly skills and your skill on IP theory. I have no understanding of your skills as a lawyer. As you know, I have questions about your views on IP theory.

    I merely presented the post as a tiny bit of human drama. Nothing more. You stepped up and gave your opinion on the likely outcome of Ron Paul's suit, if it goes to court. I just found it interesting. No linkage to your IP theory, that is an incorrect jump on your part. Nothing in my post indicates I am attempting to do that.

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    1. Bob, thanks for the clarification.

      BTW see here for a not-dissimilar case that was ruled in favor of the domain name holder (discussing the Estate of Tupac Shakur v. R.J. Barranco, over the domain names and).

      http://www.opposingviews.com/i/politics/ron-paul-angers-some-fans-using-law-international-law-no-less-try-get-ronpaulcom-domain

      Mike Masnick also seems to think Paul's legal case is weak (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130210/01422321932/ron-paul-un-hater-asks-un-to-take-ronpaulcom-forcefully-ron-pauls-biggest-supporters.shtml?threaded=true) .

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  13. Disambiguation. Look it up.

    "Owning" a name is also requiring "the force of a state" to enforce.

    Unique names are not a requirement for the internet to function. DNS tables are lookup tables -- enter a name and the IP numeric address is returned.

    The phone book simply lists all the names it has for a particular region and provides a list for the user to disambiguate on his own. Your browser can "learn" to disambiguate for you and do it repeatedly in few billionths of a second.

    In order to save the expense of your computer's cycles we should have a government, laws, courts, lawyers and jails. Really?

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  14. Is RP v RP.com case similar to the Kelo v New London case from a few years ago. If you hold that IP is real property? Isn't it just Ron Paul arguing that he will put the domain name to its highest/best use over the current owner. Who is to say that some huge movie star or singer doesn't become popular in 20 years and sue Ron Paul for his domain siting he is more popular than the former congressman? New London took private property away from a group and transferred it to another private entity because it would generate more revenue for the state through taxation.

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    1. Vaughn, your point is interesting.
      What if someone named Ron Paul, a singer / entertainer, etc., becomes more popular than Dr. Ron Paul. Would it be legitimate for him to appropriate ronpaul.com from Dr. Paul?

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