Monday, March 4, 2024

Wikipedia Threatens Artists With TM Lawsuit

EFF reports that internet giant Wikipedia is threatening two artists with a trademark infringement lawsuit if the artists do not stop using the word “wikipedia” in their non-commercial domain name and website. “Wikipedia” is a trademark owned by the Wikimedia Foundation.

Artists Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern have created a noncommercial website, Wikipedia Art, which documents a previous art project of theirs (ironically shut down by Wikipedia). The domain name for this new project is

According to EFF:

Wikipedia should know better. There is no trademark or cybersquatting issue here. First, the site is entirely noncommercial, which puts it beyond the reach of U.S. trademark law. (We note that Paul Levy of Public Citizen, who has helped establish key precedents on this issue, has signed on to represent Wikipedia Art). Moreover, even if U.S. trademark laws somehow reached this noncommercial activity, the artists’ use of the mark is an obvious fair use. Wikipedia Art uses the “Wikipedia” mark to refer to the project: a critical comment on Wikipedia and creativity. The disputed site describes the project, provides links to media coverage of the project, and so on. It does not use any more of the Wikipedia mark than need be; for example, it doesn’t even use the Wikipedia logo. Simply put, the site does not purport to be, nor does it look anything like, Wikipedia and the artists have done nothing to suggest Wikipedia endorses their work. Finally, the creators are engaging in precisely the kind of critical speech sheltered by the First Amendment.

A chronological order of events is available here.



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