The lawsuit history and news

The Facts

In November 1999, Transasia Corporation, a Paris-based company, filed a lawsuit against Leonardo Association claiming trademark infringement and loss of business. Transasia had recently trademarked the words "Leonardo", "Leonardo Finance", "Leonardo Partners", "Leonardo Experts" and "Leonardo Angels". Transasia claims, in its lawsuit, that it has entailed significant losses because the Internet search engines, when given the keyword "Leonardo", do not result in providing only its own pages but also those of Leonardo Association, and it is claiming one million dollars for business damages.

In filing this suit, Transasia asked and obtained a search warrant for the house of the Leonardo Association's founder, Frank Malina, where his 80-year-old widow lives. The police seized some documents and tried to gain access to the Leonardo web pages via the computer they found in the house. As the founder's son and current director of the Leonardo Association, Roger Malina, ironically observed, unfortunately they did not take all the documents containing the word "Leonardo" with them, thus saving him the trouble and space for sheltering Frank Malina's valuable archives.

Although Transasia's claims do not seem to be based on solid legal ground, its effect is that Leonardo is dragged in an endless legal adventure, with high financial cost that cannot be handled by a non-profit organization.

Virtual territory infringement

ART TOPOS, as many others, considers the Transasia action as an effort of crude infringement upon virtual territory and identity, and certainly through perfidious means: knowing that a non-profit cultural organization does not have the necessary financial and human resources to cope with protracted law court adventures, Transasia hopes that it will be able to infringe upon their rights at no considerable cost. This strategy is known also as SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) and its victims are usually non-profit organizations with activities conflicting with the aims of large corporations.

Simultaneously, this opens the door to the disappearance from Internet of all those voices that resist its absolute commercialization, its conversion into an immense department store, where cultural products have no place. What they need are consumers, not people who think and create, building a very different global village from the fully commercialized one which they envision.

Naturally, in making their plans they have not taken into account the reactions of all those who believe that Internet - as well as being a place for global commercial activities - can and must be a multicultural space where knowledge, creativity and creative speculation flourish. And certainly they do not appear to have learnt from the mishaps of others who have attempted similar undertakings and who met with financial ruin --as happened in the case of the multinational toy company eToys which tried to eliminate the award-winning artistic group eToy: during the one month of "contention", eToys shares dropped from 67 to 19 dollars and they had to withdraw their lawsuit before being completely ruined.

We are confident that the same will happen to Transasia, as the International reaction against its deeds, both in Internet and the mass media, are already growing.

News from the Leonardo lawsuit front

November 20, 2000

Today's hearing at the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Nanterre has been postponed, as Transasia claimed that they were not ready yet to present their arguments. There will be a new procedural hearing on December 7, 2000 for defining a new trial date, probably in January 2001.

November 16, 2000

The hearing of the Leonardo Lawsuit is on Monday, November 20th at 3 PM, at the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Nanterre. Leonardo invites its friends who are in Paris to attend the hearing.

November 15, 2000

ART TOPOS stand in this year's ART ATHINA 8 '2000 fair, taking place in Athens between November 23 and 27, will be dedicated to the promotion of Leonardo's case. ART TOPOS is planning an Internet action, under the title "My name is my home", and invites you to leave your message on the virtual graffiti wall. More information in the "My name is my home" pages.

October 15, 2000

A Leonardo Press Conference will be held during ISEA 2000, on Friday, December 8th, from 6:15 PM at the Forum des Images, Forum des Halles, Paris, Salle 100.


For past news, please visit our archived Leonardo page.

Interesting links about the lawsuit

Transasia sites


Similar cases

Interesting texts

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