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Ron Paul Asks UN To Take RonPaul.com Forcefully From Ron Paul's Biggest Supporters

February 12, 2013
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Source: Techdirt

A year ago, we pointed out how hypocritical it was for Ron Paul (at the time still a Congressional Representative and a candidate for President) to file a ridiculous lawsuit, clearly abusing trademark law, in an effort to unmask some anonymous internet users who had made a video that attacked another candidate, John Huntsman, and closed with a claim that the video was from Ron Paul supporters. Many of Pauls' supporters actually believed the video was a fake, from Huntsman supporters, seeking to discredit Ron Paul. Even if that was true, there was simply no excuse to then abuse trademark law to try to take away someone's anonymity. And, yes, it was an abuse of trademark law -- as he both claimed trademark on his name and claimed that the video was a "use in commerce" (it was not). Even if you believe the videomakers should have been exposed, I would hope you'd agree that abusing a totally unrelated law to do so would be a mistake, and (to us) seemed to go 100% against the things Ron Paul claimed to stand for. Thankfully, a judge quickly agreed and killed the lawsuit.

In writing about this, many of Paul's more ardent supporters trashed us both in our comments, and on various Ron Paul websites. I'm a little curious how they feel now, in a similar situation, where Ron Paul has turned his legal sights on them. As a whole bunch of folks have sent in, Ron Paul has filed a UDRP complaint against the site RonPaul.com, seeking to have WIPO turn over the domain to him. RonPaul.com has basically been the central source for the massive grassroots effort that supported Ron Paul in his last two Presidential campaigns -- leading many other candidates to envy Paul's ability to connect with the internet generation. The reality, of course, was much of that actually had to do with a few of his most dedicated fans, and their ability to spread his message via a series of grassroots websites, including RonPaul.com. To have Paul turn around and seek to have WIPO turn over the domain is incredible on so many different levels, once again suggesting that many of the things Ron Paul claims to have believed in go completely out the window at times -- even when it involves turning on the very people who built up his reputation.

Even more bizarre is that not only is he turning on his most ardent supporters and effectively taking them to court, but he's using WIPO, a part of the United Nations, to do so. Ron Paul hates the UN and would like the US to leave the UN. As he once said:

The choice is very clear: we either follow the Constitution or submit to UN global governance. American national sovereignty cannot survive if we allow our domestic laws to be crafted by an international body. This needs to be stated publicly more often. If we continue down the UN path, America as we know it will cease to exist.
And yet, here he is, running to the UN, and trying to forcefully take away a super successful site from his biggest fans supporting him, using the force of that same United Nations? Incredible.

Reading through the background and history, and then digging into the claims Paul's lawyer makes, suggests that Paul has made a huge mistake here. The backstory is that in a recent interviewPaul expressed some minor regret that he did not hold the domain:

Alex Jones: Well, God bless you, sir, I hope we can get you back again in a month. What are any other websites that are important, just www.CampaignForLiberty.org?

Ron Paul: There’s that, and we’ll be listing some new things there because we’re making some other WebPages. I’m going to have a home page. Unfortunately, I didn’t have RonPaul.com, so I’m going to have to have RonPaulsHomepage.com. That will be coming up, but it’s not ready yet.

In response, some of his fans told the site's operators they should look to hand over the site. The operators notedthat over the past 4.5 years, and through two high profile Presidential campaigns, they were at the center of building up massive grassroots support for Paul, and they had not had any request for the domain, but they were happy to talk it over:
On May 1st, 2008 we launched a grassroots website at RonPaul.com that became one of the most popular resources dedicated exclusively to Ron Paul and his ideas. We put our lives on hold and invested 4.5 years of hard work into Ron Paul, RonPaul.com and Ron Paul 2012. Looking back, we are very happy with what we were able to achieve with unlimited enthusiasm and limited financial resources.

As we haven’t heard from Ron Paul or his staff for several years we do not know if there is any tangible interest in utilizing RonPaul.com for Ron Paul’s new projects. We have prepared a cordial message for Ron Paul that we will gladly forward to him or to any person who credibly identifies himself as part of his current staff.
Eventually, they did get in touch with the campaign, and realizing that taking down everything that had already been on RonPaul.com would represent the dismantling of a very vital community, they hoped that he would accept RonPaul.org as an alternative for free. However, if he really wanted RonPaul.com, they were willing to give that up as well, including their massive mailing list of Paul fans, for $250,000 -- not an unreasonable sum for all the content and community they had built up over the years. You can see their full letter here or embedded below. It's very cordial, makes a strong argument for why disrupting the existing RonPaul.com would be a mistake that harms Paul's supporters and message, and makes those two offers. Perfectly reasonable.

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