NYT has more information on Fox New’s lawsuit against Al Franken for trademark infringement:

Lawyers for Fox News Network, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, News Corporation, contend that Mr. Franken should not be allowed to use those words in the title of his new book due in stores next month, “Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right” (Penguin).

They argue that Fox has trademarked “Fair and Balanced” to describe its news coverage and that Mr. Franken’s use of the phrase would “blur and tarnish” it.

“Franken is neither a journalist nor a television news personality,” according to the complaint. “He is not a well-respected voice in American politics; rather, he appears to be shrill and unstable. His views lack any serious depth or insight.”

But doesn’t that pretty much demonstrate that Franken isn’t infringing on the trademark? If he were in the news business, then it would be reasonable to argue that his usuage of the phrase might be harmful to Fox. I fail to see how Franken’s use of the word in a satirical context harms Fox, other than to the extent it’s making fun of Fox’s intonement. And that’s pretty clearly free speech.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bryan says:

    he appears to be shrill and unstable

    and this differs from a lot of Fox pundits in what way?

  2. John Lemon says:

    Hey! I trademarked the term “blur and tarnish.”

  3. Professor Kaos says:

    Al Franken certainly qualifies as shrill and unstable.

  4. Dodd says:

    FYI: Trademark dilution is a wholly separate – but entirely legitimate – cause of action.