Lawsuits, Buyouts and Time Travel
It's been a pretty busy week in the industry, with several company acquisitions by Beacon Promotions, Americo and InnerWorkings. In our office, we've also been tied up preparing out 2012 Buyer's Guide, as well as the usual end-of-year enormous mountain of unexpected work. And perhaps most importantly, I've been occupied trying to figure out what to get my girlfriend for the holidays. I'm thinking a Blu-ray copy of Predator.
With everything going on, I didn't have time to address a few big stories from last week that garnered a lot of attention. Unfortunately, there hasn't been much new information, but here's brief recap and follow-ups on what's been going on in the promotional products world.
Obama for America vs. Demstore.com—Both President Obama's campaign organization and lawyers for Washington Promotions & Printing, reported owner of Demstore.com, are keeping quiet about the trademark infringement lawsuit filed on October 26.
However, that doesn't mean everyone's lips are sealed: Steve Schwat, owner of Washington Promotions & Printing, is reported to have said, "I thought presidential campaigns were like the Grateful Dead, who never enforced their IP rights, but encouraged people to record their music and print their logos."
Currently, items with the logo in question are still available to purchase on Demstore.com. The promotional products company has 20 days from the time they received the lawsuit to respond; assuming the date of service is around the date of filing, expect to hear something more about the case in two weeks.
CPSC vs. Company Doe—The biggest update to this story is how much it has grown: The New York Times ran a story about it on Wednesday, which inspired a slew of other blogs and news sites to pick it up as well. As a result, supporters and opponents alike have been sounding off on the CPSC's product safety database, SaferProducts.gov.
One of the most interesting side effects of the story has been public reaction, not to the lawsuit, but to the purpose of the site itself. The increased exposure has lead to increased scrutiny, both of the purpose of the database, and of the government's roll in it.
"There is a vibrant and vigorous collection of privately-operated, tax-paying sites that publish consumer complaints, reviews and information without spending taxpayers' money," said Zac Carman, CEO of ConsumerAffairs.com. "Private sites have vigorously and successfully defended their right to publish information of public importance. The government's entry into the publishing arena muddies the water and accomplishes little. The federal government should go back to doing what it does best ... whatever that is."
Company Doe's name has not been revealed, meaning that at least for now, the court has decided to maintain the seal on information related to the case. The outcome of that decision, either to allow anonymity or require disclosure, will have a pronounced effect on future product safety cases, as well as on the future of SaferProducts.gov.
That's all I've got. Oh, and remember to turn your clocks back an hour on Sunday. I like to do it in the middle of the day, pretending I went back in time to relive and correct all the mistakes I made in that hour. This is just an excuse to eat a second lunch.