A French company, Early Flicker, has registered the logo and slogan of hacker and ‘pro-99% group’ Anonymous, which has gained fame for its YouTube videos and Distribute Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on organisations that they feel are tyrannical.
The French online t-shirt retailer’s efforts to claim the recognisable headless figure logo as its own may be a move to gain sole rights to profit from merchandise with the marks. However, BBC News and other news organisations were unable to reach Early Flicker for comment. What is known is that the t-shirt makers have started selling shirts with the logo on their website, listed in the “geek” section. Anonymous, whose members are often seeing sporting Guy Fawkes masks in the V for Vendetta style, have made a name for themselves with videos that seem incendiary to some and inspiring to others.
Unorthodox trademark protection
Trademark registration of recognisable logos and slogans that indicate where a product comes from is a regular part of business, particularly for international companies that need to protect their products in multiple geographic locations. Typically, when these trademarks are infringed upon, legal battles ensue. However, the ‘hacktivist’ collective known as Anonymous – which has no public face and no public legal team to bring up lawsuits – has vowed to take action against the French company in much more unusual ways.
Instead of following in the footsteps of Gucci, Red Bull, and other international organisations that have recently been in the news for trademark lawsuits, Anonymous vowed in a recently released YouTube video to “take down any business they have going on the internet.”
The video, which showed a Guy Fawkes-masked ‘new anchor’ figure speaking in a computerised text-to-speech voice that helps keep their anonymity, also stated: “The 99% will not stop until the [trademark] registration has been revoked and a public apology has been made.”
Recent cyber attacks
BBC news has also stated that Early Flicker has ironically trademarked the Anonymous slogan: “We are Anonymous. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”
The group most recently claimed to have been behind an electronic security breach at AAPT, a telecommunications company in Australia. Anonymous Australia reportedly stole 40GB of data as a way of protesting recent Australian government propositions that Internet Service Providers keep customers’ data for two years. The ‘hacktivist’ group meant to show that if a large telecommunications company’s security could be breached, it would be unable to keep Australians’ personal information secure in the new government scheme.
With electronic attacks like this under their belts, the unprecedented trademark battle of Anonymous v. Early Flicker will surely make headlines in the weeks to come.