ITQ Online Outrage Tracker: You got trademark law in my climate change debate!

UPDATED -Added comment from Jennifer Wright – thanks to BigCityLib for the tip.

If you haven’t been following this story, this post is chock full o’ background info – and be sure to skim the comment thread too, including this exchange, in which I bring up the niggling question that eventually inspired me to put together this timeline.  Reposted here, too, for the click-averse:

  • comment by Deb Prothero on Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 3:52 am:The company was fine with it and the Liberal’s website included a disclaimer at the bottom of the page indicating the difference right from the beginning. Green Shift was fine with the situation until they were bombarded by phone calls today from SDA and her cohorts in the blogosphere. They’ve each reported on their individual phone calls and each raised the temperature of the situation.I suspect if Green Shift’s Jennifer Wright could just take a deep breath and ignore the bloggers bugging her on the phone, she’d see the benefit of having traffic driven to her website.
  • comment by Kady O’Malley on Tuesday, June 24, 2008 at 5:56 am:Deb — do you have proof of that? I’m not asking in a snarky way — I had exactly the same thought last night, while trying (unsuccessfully) to get to sleep: WHY would random people start flooding a company with phone calls just because of a name collision?I mean, were these existing customers that were suddenly unsure whether they had been inadvertently dealing with a political entity? Or were these ostensibly ordinary people, with no previous awareness of Green Shift Inc., who were suddenly so filled with confusion that, rather than simply read the website — which is where they would have landed, presumably, while searching for information on the Liberal Green Shift — they would go to the trouble to make an irate phone call? It just doesn’t make any sense — unless, that is, there was a covert campaign to besiege the company with calls in order to freak out the owner, and escalate the situation to the next level.I’m going to see what I can dig up, but if you have any examples of posts – or comments, or anything else – exhorting people to call up Green Shift and rant about a supposed connection to the Liberals, please post them here, or send them along.

I’ll update this timeline with any new information that comes in on posts/comments/threads that predate the original post on Crux-of-the-Matter/Jack’s News Watch. Please feel free to send in any additional material, or post it in the comments.

Note: All times approximate except where noted; in the absence of accurate timestamps for original (ie unedited posts), the timestamp on the first comment has been used instead.

June 19

10:30 a.m.

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion launches the Green Shift, including a new, dedicated website at

11:19 am (note: possibly CST, not EST)

In a thread on the Liberal Green Shift on the message board, bcglorf posts the following:

Is there a website for the liberals proposal? is a private company site and I couldn’t find anything about the new liberal proposal on it.

June 20

In a column entited “Carbon tax means pain, but also gain”, Globe and Mail Report on Business columnist Madelaine Drohan mentions Green Shift, Inc. – an “environmental consulting business” which, she suggests, could “benefit” from the Liberal plan due to increased traffic to their similarly-URLed website:

In the meantime, one Toronto environmental consulting business is probably already benefiting from the Liberal plan. Traffic on the website of Green Shift, located at , has undoubtedly risen as a result of people looking for more details on Mr. Dion’s plan called The Green Shift, at

Of the 44 comments on the post, not one mentions the possibility of confusion between the two domain names, although many are highly critical of the Liberal plan for other reasons.

June 23

10:55 am

Crux of the Matter blogger “Sandy” is the first blogger to raise the issue of a possible trademark infringement, in a crosspost to both her own blog, and Jack’s Newswatch. According to the timestamp on the first comment at JNW, that post appears before  She credits the find to a “regular reader”, and includes a H/T to “Bert” on the crosspost.

11:37 am

in the comment thread at JNW, “Babylonian” claims to have “just” gotten off the phone with a “very professional … lady” :

I mentioned to her what I have been hearing, and asked her simply right away if they were affiliated with the Liberal party, she almost “knee-jerk” shot back by saying “NO”. She mentioned that they are dealing with them on the issue. Seems like a no issue to me, Liberals should “cease and dismantle” before this thing grows. I made it clear that I was an engineer who was interested in possobily doing business with them, which I am, but wanted to make sure they have no political affiliation. I honestly don’t care what party someone belongs to, but when your company starts supporting getting involved in some policitical plan, I don’t have the stomach for that………………THIS IS NOT THE CASE WITH THEM AT ALL. To be honest, she seemed annoyed with whole situation[.]

The comment also includes the phone number for Green Shift Inc.


Splatto of A Step to the Right links to the original post on Crux-of-the-matter, at approximately .  He also claims to have called the company himself, independently, to inquire as to whether there was any relationship between the Liberal Party and a “private company.”

According to his post, the company already seems to be aware of the issue, and suggests that they have “lost both new business and existing clients since Thursday who have been frightened off at the perception of a relationship between them and the federal Liberal Party.”

It’s unclear whether his call was made before or after that from Babylonian, whose account of the conversation would suggest that he or she gave the company the impression that the potential link with the Liberals would cost at least one prospective client.

Splatto’s post also includes Green Shift Inc.’s contact information, including phone number, and encourages readers to call in to show “support” for the company.


Small Dead Animals picks up Splatto’s post.


Splatto’s post takes the top spot on National Newswatch.

Note: The timeline stops here, because in my experience, once a story — or a blog post – is given a prominent spot on NNW, it’s just a matter of time before the rest of the media outlets follow/match it. At that point, it belongs to the world.

ADDENDUM: Well, except for this, which seems relevant to the discussion:

June 24

2:57 am

Green Shift, Inc. proprietor Jennifer Wright posts a comment to Crux-of-the-Matter. In it, she defends the company’s decision to  selectively take action against the Liberal Party for use of the phrase “green shift” while ignoring the “odd” use of the phrase in other contexts (including at least one that predates her claim to continual use):

Having Canadas Liberal Party use the term for what essentially amounts to an environmental program, as opposed to our environmental program, and dealing with thousands on misdirected garbage emails … including a bunch from people thinking that we should like it – ugghhh!!

Interestingly, she also posts an example of a “garbage email” that, as noted in the comments by BCL, appears to have been sent by an conservative American blogger of undefinable and possibly non-existent political persuasion (and, as such, not likely  to be a defender of the Liberal Party, or its Green Shift) that was apparently sent after the story hit the news (and cannot, as such, be definitively linked to name confusion).

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