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What is in a name? The ridiculous Green Shift trademark debacle

In my last post on the Liberal carbon tax proposal, I called the current attack on it blatantly dishonest, and called on all Canadians to demand politicians seriously debate the proposal on its merits. Unfortunately things have taken a turn for the worse. The debate has now devolved into the ridiculous assertion that Liberal thegreenshift.ca infringes on the trademark of Green Shift, a Toronto environmental company.

To get to the bottom of this ridiculous assertion quickly (so the debate on the carbon tax can move onto more important issues) we need to understand what trademarks actually are. Trademarks are basically designed as a form of consumer protection. That is, they’re designed to make it so you know who is actually creating a product, and don’t get tricked into believing that a certain product was made by one company when it’s really made by another. This is sometimes amusingly tested by using the moron in a hurry test. Others can make use of trademarks, just not in ways that are likely to confuse users.

So the question we need to ask ourselves is: would a moron in a hurry confuse the Green Shift company with the liberal carbon tax plan? It was plainly obvious to me that the two were not related in any way when I stumbled on the Green Shift company website by accident before this whole ridiculous trademark debacle began.

What I find truly disgusting is the sudden, and almost certainly manufactured (after all why would random people start flooding the company with phone calls just because of a name collision?), flood of calls by many Conservative supporters asking questions about the company’s affiliation with the Liberal Green shift tax plan; questions which the callers most certainly already know the answers to. They are faking the confusion (or acting like morons in a hurry) in order to encourage legal action by the Green Shift company. This is a deceptive, tactic and shows that (some) conservative supporters are willing to incur costs to a perfectly legitimate company in order to attack the Liberal proposal. It is disgusting. And it is a further lowering of the level of debate on this very important issue.

This company should realize this for what it is: free publicity. Had you heard of the Green Shift company before all of this manufactured outrage? I certainly hadn’t, and even if you happened to be a moron in a hurry and assumed the company was somehow related to the Liberal carbon tax proposal all this publicity has made it absolutely clear to everyone (even morons) that they are in no way associated with the Liberal government or their Green Shift.

Now can we please debate the Liberal carbon tax proposal plan on it’s merits?

4 Responses to What is in a name? The ridiculous Green Shift trademark debacle

  1. It probably isn’t a big deal, but people are likely more irritated at the lack of consideration of the Liberals in dealing with this issue beforehand. Is there manufactured dissent? I doubt it. But perhaps the company outrage is also a form of publicity.

  2. <<<<It probably isn’t a big deal, but people are likely more irritated at the lack of consideration of the Liberals in dealing with this issue beforehand.

    Lack of consideration is pretty tough language. The Liberals sought legal advice about the situation ahead of the launch realized they were in the clear. The Liberals then called the company and asked if there was a problem with it giving the owner an opportunity to respond then they put up a notice on their website correctly indicating that they were not to be confused with GreenShift.ca . Given that shifting is the language that has been used for over a decade to describe carbon taxes, it seems the name is logical. I’m not sure what more the Liberals could have done to satisfy the business owner.

    Early on Monday afternoon, the owner said to a caller that she was a “little concerned” about receiving calls about it. By late afternoon after the Blogging Tories bugged her all day, she became “very concerned”. Probably because she lost a whole day of productive activity listening to idiots.

    I can’t see how the Liberals could have done more to assist Jennifer Wright, with one exception. On Monday when the situation started to bubble up on the blogosphere, they might have called her again and asked if the calls were getting out of hand and possibly assisting her to develop a communications strategy to handle the idiots.

    Otherwise I hope they get lots of business for corn starch based disposable products for the summer barbecue circuit. Every Liberal riding association could use their products this summer.

  3. Well said Deb. The more I look into this the more it seems the Liberal acted appropriately, and the more I am disgusted by the morons in a hurry (aka The Blogging Tories) who flooded the Green Shift company’s phone.

    Though I still wont rule out the possibility of an intentional Streisand effect, by the company.

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