chamber of commerce withdraws lawsuit against the yes men over spoof press conference

by Tim Phillips

In October 2009, The Yes Men held a spoof press conference in which Andy Bichlbaum impersonated a U.S. Chamber of Commerce representative. The Chamber responded by filing a lawsuit against The Yes Men, which the activists moved to dismiss on First Amendment grounds. Instead of opposing the motion, the Chamber recently abandoned the case. According to today’s post by Corynne McSherry at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which defended The Yes Men,

In the lawsuit, the Chamber had claimed that a 2009 press conference—in which a Yes Man posing as a Chamber of Commerce spokesperson announced the Chamber was reversing its long held position and endorsing climate change legislation—infringed the Chamber’s trademark rights. Before the press conference was even completed, a Chamber of Commerce representative rushed into the room and announced that the Chamber’s position on climate change legislation had not in fact changed. The result: widespread media coverage of the event and the Chamber’s humorless response.

The lawsuit was the only time in 17 years that anyone has sued The Yes Men. Approximately one year after the Chamber of Commerce stunt, The Yes Men partnered with Rainforest Action Network and Amazon Watch to create a fake version of Chevron’s $80 million ad campaign with the tagline “We Agree.” The media picked up the fake version, which launched first, as real.

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