UA sues untied.com

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Gargoyle, Nov 29, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Gargoyle
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    United Continental Holdings has sued a Canadian professor who maintains the 15-year-old complaint website Untied.com, which airs complaints from disgruntled United Airlines passengers and employees.

    United says it isn't trying to shut down the site, but just to protect its intellectual property. They think their customers could be confused and not realize that untied.com is not an official UA site.

    This despite the fact that to view the site you have to click a popup that states "
    This is not the website of United Airlines.
    This site exists only because of the airline's outright hostility toward its passengers and many of its employees."
     
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  2. unavaca
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    Wow, they styled their website to look remarkably similar to united.com. They brought this suit upon themselves.
     
  3. jasher926

    jasher926 Silver Member

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    Yeah, United probably doesn't have much of a suit here considering it's pretty clear this website doesn't have the capability to book reservations so people wouldn't get confused. I think United's just being a little spiteful and wants to make this guy feel some pain by forcing him to burn through cash defending himself.
     
  4. Wandering Aramean
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    I disagree that UA has no claim. The use of the logos and layout is likely sufficient to meet the threshhold to have it shut down.
     
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  5. MegaDont

    MegaDont Silver Member

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    Via Untied.com: "United.com shall remain a voice of criticism against United, document abuse of passengers and employees, and provide them with a resource for fighting for their rights."

    United Airline's case in point.
     
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  6. Wandering Aramean
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    Providing a venue for criticism is not the problem. The wholesale lifting of the site design, including logos protected by trademark, servicemark or copyright laws is the problem.
     
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  7. MegaDont

    MegaDont Silver Member

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    I was just pointing out the misspelling of their own website, which I'm sure is one of United's main complaints the other way around. I found it pretty amusing that they made United's case for them.
     
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  8. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    The website is asking for donations to help fund their defence against UA.
    Given the number of unhappy clients of UA, it may well get the funds needed for their trip to court.
     
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  9. Black Cloud
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    Just curious - why would anyone throw good money after something like this?
     
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  10. Mackieman
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    People are stupid.
     
  11. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    SNL regularly "lifts" the design, logo etc. of other TV shows and makes fun of them.

    That said, if untied.com was my site, I wouldn't have chosen to copy United's design. It doesn't really add much value to the site and is unnecessary work.
     
  12. Captain Oveur
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    After Air Canada successfully got Errorplan shut down, I fully expect the Canadian courts to side with United Airlines here.
     
  13. guberif

    guberif Silver Member

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    They have the Internet in Canada?!?
     
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  14. milchap
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    FYI....Air Canada did not shut down Errorplan.
     
  15. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    perhaps some are now bitter with UA and besides voting with their wallet by not flying UA, would like to see nothing go well (or easy) for UA.
     
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  16. LETTERBOY
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    Air Canada and Aeroplan are separate companies.
     
  17. milchap
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  18. Wandering Aramean
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    Parody is generally one of the covered types of use under copyright law's fair use clause. But there is a difference between a one-off making fun of something and a long-term use in a manner which could be confusing to the customer.
     
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  19. Weatherboy

    Weatherboy Gold Member

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    Parody and satire is protected free speech, especially against a company. This is a frivolous lawsuit....UA should have just bought the URL from them rather than fight it.
     
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  20. Weatherboy

    Weatherboy Gold Member

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    There is nothing confusing about the site. I doubt anyone is trying to buy tickets from it.
     
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  21. Gargoyle
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    I would agree with the owner of untied.com, cited in the article as calling this a SLAPP suits. (strategic lawsuit against public participation). It's intended to cost him a lot of money as a way to punish him and force him to back down. Even if he wins he will have spent a lot in legal fees.

    The site is clearly parody and satire, and protected by free speech, but UA seems more interested in stifling complaints than in solving their problems. They didn't learn from the broken guitars case.
     
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  22. Wandering Aramean
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    Expain that to the people posting PNRs, ticket numbers and other details on the site and trying to get customer service. By making the site visually similar to the actual site the "satire/parody" idea is in pllay but I'm not so conviced that there is no confusion.
     
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  23. Weatherboy

    Weatherboy Gold Member

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    The whole point of satire is to be visually similar. And all the warnings and pop ups they have make it clear it isn't the airline site. The point of the suit isn't to collect lost revenue from confused passengers, it's to squash freedom of expression from someone with an axe to grind about their service.

    What a PR disaster...now it really looks like UA doesn't care about correcting customer service issues. Again, they should have used a third party to acquire the site. Or reserved common misspellings (or anti-UrLs) as part of their domain name strategy like any other major company.
     
  24. Wandering Aramean
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    And at some point that is no longer protected. There is no cut-and-dry answer on what is and is not fair use in the copyright world. I think that UA has a reasonable claim here. We'll all find out eventually when the case is heard and ruled on.
     
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  25. Gargoyle
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    The fact that some people are that clueless, after the popup intro message and other disclaimers on the site, should not be relevant. In my estimation, this is cut-and-dried. UA is trying to quash dissent and punish the site operator. That jibes with my entire sense of UA's management policy.
     

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