Joke's on the Chamber: Yes Men spoof is protected political speech

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Back in October, the Yes Men parody troupe staged a “news conference,” pretending to be officials from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The news, if it had been true, would have been pretty startling — that the pro-industry, anti-regulation Chamber had seen the light and was changing its denial take on climate change.

Instead, it was high-comedy, punctuated by the appearance of a real Chamber honcho who was none too pleased with the shenanigans. In the aftermath, The Chamber sued the Yes Men for alleged trademark infringement. Their trademark case, however, is as faulty as their stand on climate change. Public Citizen attorneys filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief Tuesday in support of the Yes Men, which is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF attorneys have asked a federal judge to dismiss the case.

“The activists’ fake press conference was not commercial in any sense. Rather, it aimed to highlight the Chamber’s view on arguably the most weighty and controversial issue of the day,” said Public Citizen attorney Gregory Beck, who co-authored the brief. “Therefore, the group’s speech should be protected.”