Nerval's Lobster writes: When the GCHQ agency (Britain’s equivalent of the National Security Agency) reportedly decided to infiltrate the IT network of Belgian telecommunications firm Belgacom, it relied on a sophisticated version of a man-in-the-middle attack, in which it directed its targets' computers to fake, malware-riddled versions of Slashdot and LinkedIn. If the attack could be proven without a doubt, would the GCHQ—or any similar spy agency engaging in the same sort of behavior—be liable for violating trademarks or copyrights, since a key part of its attack would necessitate the appropriation of intellectual property such as logos and content? We asked someone from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about that, and received a somewhat dispiriting answer. “From a trademark perspective, if a company uses another company’s marks/logos to deceive, there may be a trademark claim,” said Corynne McSherry, the EFF’s Intellectual Property Director. “But it’s complicated a bit by two problems: (1) the fact that while there may be confusion, it’s not necessarily related to the actual purchase of any goods and services; and (2) multiple TM laws are in play here—for example UK trademark law may have different exceptions and limitations.” McSherry also addressed other issues, including governments' doctrine of sovereign immunity.
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