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Big Tobacco Meets Its Match in a Lawyer Defending Free Speech Parodies

Mid-June appears to be “defend parody T-shirt week” for the lawyers at Public Citizen.

Just days after convincing the Ready for Hillary political group to drop its threats against a seller of T-shirts mocking its cause, the lawyer who was recently profiled as the “Web bully’s worst enemy,” Paul Alan Levy, has found a new t-shirt fight to resolve.

Skylar Shatz, who owns the independent T-shirt shop SkygraphX, received a “cease and desist” letter from Philip Morris’ attorneys earlier this month. Philip Morris claimed one of his shirts, which turns a Marlboro box into one labeled “Death,” infringed and diluted its trademark. It turns out Shatz is one of hundreds of parodists who have tweaked Philip Morris brands, only to find themselves on the receiving end of a lawyer’s threat.

Shatz’s shop was based in a West Nyack, New York, shopping mall for the last two years, before he closed up shop in December to go “on tour” and continued to sell online.

In his response letter [PDF], Levy says that if Philip Morris wants to proceed with litigation against Shatz, he’s not only ready to defend the case—he’ll look into the hundreds of other targets of Philip Morris bullying letters.

Via Philip Morris attacks Marlboro parody, runs into “Web bully’s worst enemy” @ Ars Technica.

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