Yesterday, Ring of Fire posted a story about a $3.3 million verdict against Yamaha for their gross negligence with their Rhino ATV (model 660 UTV.) The verdict was delivered after attorneys were able to show that during every step of the way – from design, to manufacturing, to marketing – the company put their own desire for profits over the safety of consumers.
It didn’t take long for the company to set their lawyers on us, demanding that we cease using any images or reproductions of the company’s “trademark” logo. An email from these attorneys threatened “action in a court of law” if the images were not immediately removed from stories and press releases on the verdict. The email was sent directly to Fred Levin, the lead plaintiff’s attorney from the case.
First of all, use of the company’s logo – the event that caused the reaction from Yamaha – is not illegal:
“The fair use or nominative use of a logo is recognized for purposes of description and identification. A newspaper, for instance, can incorporate a corporate logo in an article about a company’s annual report. Trademark allows an author of a nonfiction work to use a trademarked logo only to describe or identify the product or service of the company it represents.”
So why the hissy fit over the use of their logo? The answer is that the company is EMBARRASSED by their behavior and wants to be disassociated from the story.
Here is what Yamaha is hiding from, courtesy of The Consumerist:
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff has investigated more than 50 incidents involving 46 driver and passenger deaths in these three Rhino models. More than two-thirds of the cases involved rollovers and many involved unbelted occupants. Of the rollover-related deaths and hundreds of reported injuries, some of which were serious, many appear to involve turns at relatively low speeds and on level terrain.
The fact is that the company knew their products were faulty and still went to market with them. They can hide behind thinly-veiled threats all they want, but they will never be able to escape the reality that their products are killing people.
Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer Magazine.