Freedom on the Internet:
Suzanne Meszoly speaks at the press conference held December 20, 1999, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
An American Horror Story
etoy, an international art group, has been sued by EToys,
an American multi billion dollar internet toy company for
trademark infringement claiming that the art group?s name
is too close to its own. Etoys the toy company has defamed
the international art group etoy by calling them
criminal, hackers, pornographers and terrorists.
On November 29, 1999 a Los Angeles Superior Court judge
responded to eToys' lawsuit by issuing a preliminary
injunction, preventing the award-winning Internet artists,
etoy, from using their www.etoy.com Web site. and preventing
them from offering and selling etoy.SHARES in the United
States of America. Both etoys and etoy do business on line.
As far as I understand and as mentioned in the Morning
Edition on National Public Radio on December 13 by Megan
Gray an expert in internet and intellectual property law,
trademark infringement requires companies to have
substantially similar names and for those companies to
have substantially similar goods and services. I fail to
see that etoy sells toys online. Regarding the question
of first come first served and domain names, etoy.com have
been on the net since 1995 and were founded in 1994. Etoys,
the world's leading online toy retailer, was founded in
1996 and registered the name etoys.com in 1997 and
owns the trademark.
Etoys the toy company decided that the similar web
address of the international art group was confusing
their customers and took legal action leading to the
preliminary decision made in the California court,
which in turn has lead to the loss of the artists
domain name, restrictions placed on their etoy.share
art project and subsequently the loss of their email
addresses as well. (Network Solutions, the company that
maintains the master list of internet addresses (domains)
has blocked email service to etoy.com, though this was
not mandated by the injunction.) Apparently Network
Solutions does this when domain names are under investigation.
Etoy has been isolated by this action from the supportive
internet community: restricting the etoy.email addreses
was not a part of the official court decision and
compromises the fundamental rights of speech, expression,
organization and self defense. We fail to see the legality
of this Network Solutions action. Network Solutions has said
they are "unable" to reach etoy in Zurich.
The preliminary injunction of the California court represents
a legal precedence: an ebusinesss giant is restricting
the very existence of an art company. There is no business
overlap here as I have already stated.
This case merely demonstrates who has the right to conduct
business, operate, express themselves and exist in cyberspace.
The legalities of this court case are obviously under
discussion as well, not only because it is yet another
case of "cash driven justice".
The artists currently run operations from Europe and
remain there today.
The next decision will be made December 27, 1999, again
in the California court, where the etoy art group has been
requested to provide an exhaustive amount of documentation,
as well as appearing in person.
This court case has obviously received a great deal of
attention both in America and around the world for it deals
with freedom on the internet and through this case we can
see an American State court regulating the wide-open
international landscape of the internet, of art.
Etoy has created a crisis advisory board of international
experts, of which I am the director, to assist with the
development of this court case and to help etoy retain its
intellectual and internet property. Etoy does not and will
not be involved in any action which is illegal or
harmful to any person or institution. Etoy simply wants
to exist as before as a meaningful and creative art project.
Etoy has never intended to interfere with the business
of internet toy retailers.
Etoy will not engage with traditional means, etoy will not
hack or aggress the etoys or other opponents that attempt
to destroy our territory and intellectual and cultural
property, however through this current process etoy has
continued to infect the world with the etoy message: the
message has broken through the glass doors of the museum,
through the computer monitors and hit the streets, the
newspapers, CNN, the business news, the television. The
stocks, the court judges, the activitists, the riots, the
MOMA, the advisors, the netizens, the world has transformed
the etoy idealogy into a reality. The surreal has become
This is the etoy value