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Ralph Cathcart Quoted on Using Trademarks to Stop Social Media Trolls

Ralph Cathcart is quoted in “Sandy Hook: fighting against social media trolls” on Trademarks & Brands Online (TBO) concerning efforts by the family of a victim of the Sandy Hook massacre to trademark Victoria Soto’s name, to combat unauthorized uses of her name in social media platforms, including bogus social media profiles advancing conspiracy theories. Mr. Cathcart addressed the tension between enforcing legitimate trademark rights related to the Vicki Soto Memorial Fund, a charitable organization that raises money for scholarships and aspiring teachers, and free speech concerns implicated under the First Amendment. To the extent any of the unauthorized uses are likely to cause confusion as to source in connection with any goods or services, a trademark registration would be useful, and many websites might “take down” offending uses rather than engage in a legal dispute. However, Cathcart points out “a trademark cannot stop people from talking about newsworthy events, or from putting across a conspiracy theory. You might not like it, but the concept behind the First Amendment is something that does sometimes hurt people’s feelings”.

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