Counterfeits for Katrina Victims -- Again
Copying others' charitable activity? Probably a good thing, from both an evolutionary and a moral standpoint. Trademark lawyers, however, may beg to differ.
As Mayor Bloomberg reported at the Harper's Bazaar / Kirkland & Ellis Anticounterfeiting Summit on Wednesday, New York is donating counterfeit fashion items seized by the NYPD to victims of Hurricaine Katrina. The audience applauded politely, but the mayor didn't exactly receive a standing O.
La Retrosessuale, one of the fabulous women of ShangriLaw, has clearly retained her generous humanistic instincts despite being subject to a legal education. She writes that "it is better to let these knockoffs go to use than rot in a plasticine grave somewhere."
Hardcore intellectual property owners and their lawyers wouldn't be so sure. Nobody is about to run the public relations risk of taking candy from babies -- or clothing from Katrina victims -- but all trademark owners weren't necessarily thrilled that the small percentage of counterfeit merchandise actually impounded by law enforcement is back on the streets. And the anticounterfeiting stance of both the federal government and the New York City government may be compromised by these actions.
Which leaves us with the perennial question: are lawyers human?