I always enjoy a good smack down. Especially when it is well-deserved. Today, the National Arbitration Forum issued its decision in KBR, Inc. v. Jeffery L. Raizner, Claim Number FA1110001413439. For those playing along at home, here is a pdf copy National Arbitration Forum Decision on kbrlitigation (2)
Backstory and full disclosure: Jeff Raizner is a partner in the Doyle Raizner firm. Jeff and his partner Mike Doyle are pursuing claims for sick veterans who claim to have been exposed to sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Plant in Iraq in 2003. I am co-counsel for the Oregon vets in Bixby v. KBR, a case pending here in Portland. In connection with the litigation, Jeff registered an active web page, kbrlitigation.com.
The dispute: KBR rattled sabers and ultimately disputed the registration through NAF. KBR sought to take the domain name from Jeff, claiming that kbrlitigation.com infringed on its mark. The panel ultimately found that the site represented a nominative fair use of KBR’s mark. Putting it into English, this translates to roughly: “No, KBR. No. You do not get to use the legal system to censor those who dare to criticize your misconduct. Go away and darken our doors no more.” (Note: This is a rough translation. I am, after all, not fluent in the odd language of intellectual property.)
I can’t help but wonder how much KBR spent on this little escapade. I am a simple in-the-trenches trial lawyer–the world of intellectual property is fairly alien to me. To use a technical legal term, this seemed like a no-brainer. Guess KBR has extra money to spend and wants to do whatever it can to stop trial lawyers from communicating with sick vets. Total failure. But worse, a public one.
So congrats to Jeff and Mike and their IP legal team. It’s a nice and well-deserved win.