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Coke, Fraud and Justice not Served.

By porovaara in MLP
Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 02:51:04 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

CokeKarma is the amazing story of Bob Kolody vs the Coca Cola Corporation. While this isn't the usual tech fare, it is an incredible piece of journalism about a story that will amaze you, for all the wrong reasons.

The basics are that Coke stole Bob's work and passed it off as their own. Then they appear to have used a tainted lawyer, collusion with a judge, and eventually corruption of the whole 7th Circuit Court of Appeals for Chicago. This is one of the best documented examples I have ever seen of justice gone horribly wrong... and the standout thing is that it's one of the world's largest companies cleary getting away it and the courts playing along.

Even if you don't like the submission, read the story. It's worth it.


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Coke, Fraud and Justice not Served. | 76 comments (74 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Importance of a Non-Disclosure Agreement (3.87 / 8) (#2)
by quam on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 11:15:13 PM EST

Reading the material on CokeKarma, I did not find any indication Bob Kolody presented Coca-Cola with a nondisclosure contract. Without protection of business information, a party runs the risk of having the information taken and freely utilized by others.

A party could protect business information as a trade secret, but not all information inherently receives such protection. As a result, parties can contract for nondisclosure of information without dependence on the very nature of the information, assuming the agreement does not restrain competition or hinder an individual from pursuing his/her livelihood. In some cases, albeit rare, a nondisclosure agreement may be implied.

Sample NDAs may be found at UIA and at Mark Halligan's site.
More information concerning the purpose and advantages of a nondisclosure agreement may be found in articles at Entrepreneur.com and ZDNet

-- U.S. Patent 5443036 concerns a device for encouraging a cat to exercise by chasing a light spot.
He was too trusting (3.00 / 2) (#3)
by John Milton on Mon Jun 18, 2001 at 11:42:39 PM EST

I stopped reading after the part where he left the original notes with them. What? They wouldn't give them back? After that, I don't need details.

"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

[ Parent ]
early withdrawal (3.66 / 3) (#4)
by garlic on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 12:10:09 AM EST

you missed out. Only 9 more pages to read. It was really, really long, but interesting. It was also written like a tabloid, but the last page talking about how JSP on the Supreme Court overwatches the 7th Circuit Court of appeals was pretty interesting.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Did you read the article? (4.00 / 4) (#6)
by shoeboy on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 12:22:59 AM EST

He already had legal protection in the form of a copyright, properly registered and all. It was ingnored. What good would an NDA have done?

The article is about bribery and fraud at the highest levels of the judicial system, and you're saying "If he had an NDA this all would have been avoided. It's all his fault." What have you been smoking?

I'm not saying that NDAs are useless, but I really don't see how one would have helped in this case.

No more trolls!
[ Parent ]

Did you read my comment? (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by quam on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 11:42:59 AM EST

Yes, I read the article. A copyright is not the same as nondisclosure agreement; it is not related to any form of a contract.

The article is about bribery and fraud at the highest levels of the judicial system, and you're saying "If he had an NDA this all would have been avoided. It's all his fault." What have you been smoking?

Instead of complaining, reread my comment and you will see I never stated: "If he had an NDA this all would have been avoided. It's all his fault."

What have you been smoking?
Do you have an attitude problem? I suggest you chill and read information before you respond.

-- U.S. Patent 5443036 concerns a device for encouraging a cat to exercise by chasing a light spot.
[ Parent ]
Again, did you read the article? (4.00 / 2) (#69)
by aluminumaloi on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 06:24:15 PM EST

NDA is not a real issue here.

If what this article says is true, Kolody owns the copyright to the "Contour Coke Bottle" image. If the image is used without Kolody's permission, it is a breach of Copyright law, regardless of whether an NDA existed or not.

[ Parent ]

NDA, Observations and Information. Woo Hoo... (3.00 / 1) (#70)
by quam on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 02:41:59 AM EST

I did not find any indication Bob Kolody presented Coca-Cola with a nondisclosure contract.

I agree with you. As my comment indicates, NDA was not the core issue of the article. I did not see the subject of a NDA. If I had not read the article then I would not likely know if a NDA was or was not an issue.

My comment was an observation from reading the article and I thought information concerning the usage of a NDA would be helpful. Furthermore, considering the usage of a NDA by some in situations such as this, I found my comment to relate to the article.

Also, I did not criticize Kolody. If a person makes an assumption I criticized Kolody, then there is nothing I can say.

The article raises numerous legal issues (in addition to copyright law and a situation related to NDAs) and the intrinsic nature of the legal system. I wanted to comment on those issues, but I did not have the time.

-- U.S. Patent 5443036 concerns a device for encouraging a cat to exercise by chasing a light spot.
[ Parent ]
Fucking incredible (3.37 / 8) (#7)
by spacejack on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 12:26:15 AM EST

I just wish I knew more about guerillanews.com. Are these guys for real or are they a bunch of crackpots?

monkey news (3.66 / 3) (#9)
by garlic on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 12:54:07 AM EST

I agree. It was pretty interesting, but the style came across as that of a tabloid. It was also very biased, which is ok at times, but without presenting any of cokes motivations (that didn't appear evil) or justifications, its hard to take the story at face value.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Your not too far off (3.00 / 1) (#65)
by easilyodd on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 02:23:54 PM EST

I agree with you about the styel. But, he did give the Coke was contacted but had no remarks line. Watch the video clips. There is more information in there. Kolody implies that a Coke exec was fired for some of this.

[ Parent ]
coke's motivations (4.00 / 1) (#68)
by aluminumaloi on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 06:15:58 PM EST

I agree that it read like a tabloid, and there were parts that were a bit difficult to believe, but the article clearly pointed out Coke's major motivation:

If it can be shown that Coke does not own the copyright to an image they have been licensing to bottlers around the world, then those bottlers will be able to sue Coke for charging them to use that image - something that could cost Coke billions of dollars.

If that's not motivation, I don't know what is.

[ Parent ]

good god, that was incredible (2.50 / 8) (#8)
by mattw on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 12:45:57 AM EST

That was an astounding story, and it left me just reeling. I've bookmarked the action page for further investigation, and to contact my representatives, as high up as possible. Thanks for some seriously great MLP.

[Scrapbooking Supplies]
Sounding the wacko alarm (4.41 / 17) (#10)
by cp on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 12:55:53 AM EST

An interesting story, but I'd sure love to see the following points addressed:
  1. What are the case numbers? For a site that claims to have posted exhaustive scanned images of related documents, guerillanews hasn't bothered to supply a single docket number. This is a glaring ommission in light of the fact that opinion searches on the websites of both 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Northern District Court of Illinois turn up nothing about Kolody or the rest.
  2. What are we to make of the fact that Skolnick's website is a conspiracy theorist's heaven, with conspiracy theories on topics ranging from the deaths of JFK Junior and Princess Diana to Waco?
  3. Where can we learn more about Dan Ivy? The only references to a prominent Arkansas attorney by that name concern sanctions for a frivolous lawsuit in 1998 and the 1994 Arkansas Supreme Court case Ivy v. Republican Party which ruled that the Republican party could revoke Ivy's nomination for Attorney General in light of his conviction for wife beating.
  4. Why exactly hasn't this story been covered except by conspiracy-theorist sites? No reason was provided other than the classic conspiracy theorist's crutch, it threatens the ruling order too much.
  5. Why the consistent references to the 14th amendment instead of the 5th amendment in a Federal case?
  6. Care to back the outlandish claims about Coca Cola's involvement with the CIA up at all?
  7. Why does google find nothing about the Citizen's Committee to Clean Up the Courts except conspiracy theorists' oblique references when listing Skolnick's credentials?
  8. If Skolnick's 1969 Illinois judicial corruption scandal was such a historically significant affair, then why is it so darn hard to find anything out about it?
Other questions abound, but those should be enough to get the ball rolling. For what purports to be a seminal bit of reporting, this piece is rather lacking. It wouldn't surprise me at all to learn it's either a complete hoax or the paranoid-delusional ravings of yet another pathetic wacko.

More info (4.45 / 11) (#11)
by rusty on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 01:09:40 AM EST

You didn't look too hard at the Circuit Court page, did you? :-)

Robert E. Kolody vs. Simon Marketing (and Coca-Cola): 00-3305, 00-3570, 99-2406.

All this proves is there were court cases involving at least some of the people named. As for the rest of your questions, I haven't read the article yet, so who knows. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Stop making me look bad (2.50 / 6) (#14)
by cp on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 02:47:45 AM EST

It's embarassing. ;-)

[ Parent ]
Sorry about that (4.14 / 7) (#16)
by rusty on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 03:15:07 AM EST

I assume that the author didn't want to futher complicate an already complex story with details most people would never look up, and probably wouldn't be able to read even if they did. A bibliography would have served that article well though.

Having finally read the whole thing, all I can say is wow. Yes, it reads like a great big conspiracy theory. Yes, there are some (very) weak links. But even if you totally disregard the (IMO plausible but unsupported) allegations that federal judges are being bought by [Coke|The Mob|The CIA], it's still pretty clear that Kolody got a great big shaft in this one.

I'd really like to hear the other side of this. It feels as though something is missing in this article... like, it would all make sense if Kolody and his legal team were basically a bunch of madmen who really did go filing brief after brief, full of ever more wildly exotic allegations. Which, ultimately they did, but I don't get the sense that any of the early proceedings were so out of line as to warrant this kind of outright dismissal.

What it all comes down to is that Kolody would seem to have a very good case that he actually owns the "Coke Bottle" copyright. That would be disastrous for Coca-Cola, obviously, and it further seems that the judge basically papered over the case to avoid having to actually rule that this was true. That, alone, is bad, but can easily be explained by the ignorance or incompetence of one jugde.

What strikes me as hugely weird is the en banc ruling by the appeals court, with no explanation at all, to prevent Ivy from practicing law in the 7th Circuit. Maybe that's not weird at all. How the hell should I know. But the article claims it to be weird, so I'm going with that. :-)

Basically, I'd love to see this get more attention, and independent coverage. If it's bogus, hopefully someone can explain why. I hope this posting helps in some small way.

Aside from all that, what a great piece of journalism! Unless, of course, it turns out to be hogwash, it's a good example of the ability of independent media online to pick up where investigative newspaper reporting has more or less left off.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

En banc ruling (4.00 / 7) (#19)
by sigwinch on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 04:42:04 AM EST

What strikes me as hugely weird is the en banc ruling by the appeals court, with no explanation at all, to prevent Ivy from practicing law in the 7th Circuit.
It *is* weird, on three levels. First, an en banc decision requires considerable judicial resources, and is typically reserved for important or difficult questions. Second, judges essentially never issue simple yes/no judgements, they issue decisions, with findings of fact and law. And third, the lack of justification gives Kolody no way to appeal the matter -- you cannot argue with a silent opponent. If this were lawful, it would permit the Circuit to arbitrarily deny representation to Kolody, which is plainly unconstitutional.

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Well, it IS an important decision, (1.66 / 3) (#29)
by Highlander on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 07:21:15 AM EST

.. after all, it made it onto kuro5hin, didn't it ?

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.
[ Parent ]
Well, yes and no... (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by weirdling on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 01:12:25 PM EST

This is a civil case. The fifth and fourteenth do not apply. I don't know why people keep insisting they do. The seventh does, insomuch as if the case had faced a jury trial, a judge cannot reverse the decision, but once again, doesn't seem to impact this case.
Equal representation doesn't count in civil trials. Federal judges have broad-ranging powers over civil cases in order to keep the courts from being clogged. In order to successfully overturn such behavior, you're going to have to hit a higher court, file a writ of certiori, and get somebody important to file an amicus brief. Then, of course, you've got to prove to another federal judge why one Richard A Posner is in the wrong. Good luck...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Retraction (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by sigwinch on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 09:10:03 PM EST

[I said:]If this were lawful, it would permit the Circuit to arbitrarily deny representation to Kolody, which is plainly unconstitutional.
The fifth and fourteenth do not apply.
Curiously, a reading of the Constitution supports your assertion. It is consistent with the Constitution for a federal judge in a civil case to require a plaintiff to represent themselves.

On the other hand, 28 USC 1654 says that "In all courts of the United States the parties may plead and conduct their own cases personally or by counsel as, by the rules of such courts, respectively, are permitted to manage and conduct causes therein." This is confusingly worded, but it seems to mean that counsel may not be arbitrarily denied.

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Tangled mess of US code (4.50 / 2) (#67)
by weirdling on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 04:44:21 PM EST

I'm consistently amazed at the poor grasp of English presented by your average Congresscritter.
Nevermind. This code could be read to require the right to an attorney, but it is relatively obscured, hence weak and open to interpretation, so, textually, doesn't guarantee right to attorney. What it does is say that people have the right to appear in court, whether in person, or by attorney, as laws governing the court permit. It is common practice to have an attorney representing one. However, it is not uncommon for the judge to require in a case where there is but a single plaintiff that said plaintiff meet the judge to discuss the case in a pre-trial fashion such that the judge can discover the true nature of the suit and whether it behooves a federal court to pursue the matter. This isn't actually a trial; it is an investigative hearing to see if there should be a trial. Federal judges are not often under any requirement to hear a civil trial.
I truly wish the matter were better written, as the text you quote could be read to guarantee right to attorney, and such right should, IMHO, be a natural right, but it can also be read to leave the right to an attorney at the disgression of the court pursuant to any laws that may impact it.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Bogosity (4.83 / 6) (#25)
by kuwaerufivechin on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 05:59:32 AM EST

I was interestedly burrowing into the article, thinking something like "Hm. Shit deal they got, eh? We're all doomed."--until I got to the section subheaded "Richard A. Posner," on page 11 (I think).

Now, because IANAL etc., I'm reflexively put in a "Whatever you say, man" state of mind when reading accounts of complex legal wranglings; it's like I'm in Tokyo and I'm asking a random Japanese-looking passerby where the subway entrance is--I expect them to point me the right way because, well, I asked, and a Japanese-looking guy is at least talking to me. But, on page 11 (I think), I hit something that I know enough about to snap me back into "Aha! You're fulla shit, dude!" mode: a subsection titled "Richard A. Posner."

Richard A. Posner is a quasi-libertarian judge, college prof., author, &c (and if that L-word makes what he says valueless to you, well, fine; you're at the right site[smiley]). His legal philosophy is a "pragmatic" Richard Rorty sort of philosophy (with "telling other people what to do when they're not really bothering us" in place of "cruelty," for those of you who know what that's about), and he's big on demystifying The Capital-L Law and Capital-I Intellectuals. He's the most frequently cited legal scholar in the U.S.--partly because legal scholars tend more toward quasi-libertarianism than "law professionals" do. Anyway, he's the judge whose precedent gives nude dancing First Amendment protection, for example. Also, he's a funny guy, of an "ironic turn of mind" (you'll need to know that later).

Okay. So I hit the "Richard A. Posner" section, and I'm surprised to find this:

"Yeah, he's one of the Judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals."

"Right. But he used to be the Chief Justice before his buddy Easter-bunny took over. You know those two, they're joined at the hip. They call the shots on the Appellate Court. Anyways. Posner was involved in some kind of a debate against a law professor at the University of Chicago."


"And... you should read the things he is saying. I mean, I can't believe the arrogance of this guy! It's absolutely incredible, especially when you take into consideration the fact that he was one of the Judges who sat in a secret hearing and barred Kolody's attorney from admission to the Court. No justification. "You're out!" "That's it!" "Goodbye!" With no consideration for his due process rights, equal protection and all that. You know what the 14th Amendment is don't you?"

"Kind of."

I have to interject here and point out that people who aren't characters in plays don't have exchanges like these, especially the one-and-a-half that follow, so I doubt any of this deserves the quotation marks that the article gives it, but anyway....

"Yeah, well, I don't fault you for not knowing the Constitution. Most lawyers don't know it. And you're young."

"The point?"

"The point is that this guy, Posner, was quoted extensively in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. The article says: 'People who think that federal judges base their legal opinions solely on their interpretation of the law and the Constitution are living in a make-believe world. At least that's the view advanced by Judge Richard A. Posner of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.'"

Skolnick could barely contain himself.

"A make-believe world! And get this. Get this! He says, of the Supreme Court Justices, and this is a direct quote, "They don't believe in that equal protection stuff." Can you believe it?" Equal protection stuff, make-believe world! Heee-heeee-heeee."


After reading these words I finally began to understand why it is that Sherman Skolnick has been fighting to put corrupt Judges in prison for over forty years. Posner's arrogant dismissal of the constitution and its authority over those we have entrusted with our courts is not only disheartening, it is dangerous. As Dan Ivy told me in one of our last interviews,

"When the people of this country come to believe that they cannot walk into a federal courtroom and get a fair hearing, that is when they will begin turning to men like Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols and making them their leaders. And then you will see a system that is so violent and totalitarian that it will make all of this corruption seem like child's play."

Exactly Posner's point. What Posner is saying is what Skolnick is saying: "Judges don't follow The Law, you idiot. This ain't no Promised Land. We're, unfortunately, merely politicans, and we're not allowed to behave otherwise. I'd like it to be different, but it isn't. Don't lie to people and tell them that it is." But Skolnick is acting like what Posner is saying is, in intent, the opposite of what Skolnick is saying, and the author of the guerillanews.com article doesn't bother to figure that out.

The whole story may be true. It does sound like the Chicago judge was a criminal dirtbag. But I can't believe this account, because it's wrong about the only part of the story that I know anything about. Anyone who's familiar with Posner's work, or with him at all, knows that it's preposterous to accuse him of coming out in favor of corrupt judgery. And an article that displays so little knowledge about a character to which it devotes an entire page probably isn't reliable; it believes its own sources too uncritically. Unfortunately. It seems like an interesting case.

(The fact that the story doesn't delve into the criminal history of the Rose law firm (which includes some certain famous Democrats) suggests a schoolboy bias as well. But I didn't mention that, because I'm not a Republican.)

I mean, we're trying to save the whales. They're stuck up there. --FZ
[ Parent ]
I think you misunderstood Skolnick (4.50 / 2) (#33)
by DeHans on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 10:42:29 AM EST

Skolnick has been fighting the Justice system on the basis that it is corrupt, i.e. it's decisions are influenced by other factors than merely the facts pertaining to the case in question. Whether it is monetary or politically corruption is irrelevant. The HeeeeHeeee part is a reaction to the fact that a Chief Justice openly stating that that is exactly the case and thinking otherwise is naive.

Isn't it sad that one of the persons responsible for making sure the constitution is preserved, comes out claiming that the constitution is subordinate to politics? Remember there's a difference with the feeling that it is so, and this undeniable statement of a chief justice.

[ Parent ]
Of course (4.00 / 1) (#43)
by weirdling on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 01:08:19 PM EST

I'd like to know if Posner actually said this. Posner is extremely well respected. IIRC, it was Posner who was tapped to reconcile M$ and the DOJ. Posner has had his hands in a lot of things. A judge of such standing might have said such, I guess, but there's no independant confirmation, and the chance of a misquote is high. Seems close to slander to me.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Posner's Point (4.00 / 2) (#60)
by kurthr on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 04:40:51 AM EST

As you say,
'What Posner is saying is what Skolnick is saying: "Judges don't follow The Law, you idiot. This ain't no Promised Land. We're, unfortunately, merely politicans, and we're not allowed to behave otherwise. I'd like it to be different, but it isn't. Don't lie to people and tell them that it is.'

This point is also very nicely made in the classic tale of depositing a legal ~$100,000 check and having the bank weasle out after you've put the money into a safe deposit box... As seen on TV:^)
(it's really long, but well written and really funny)

short lessons:
1 You don't know the law.
2 The teller doesn't know the law.
3 The bank managers (any and all) don't know the law.
4 Congress doesn't know how to write laws.
(possibly the best part
which explains why writing the words non-negotiable or void do not invalidate a check!)
5 The seminal author of bank law warned congress of this flaw before they rewrote the law.
6 The law doesn't matter, because they are a bank so you lose.
7 You might win on appeal, if the appeals court decides to follow the law.
8 Oh yes, and the Wall Street Journal is fallible.

[ Parent ]
Bogosity - A Math Adventure (ages 8 and up) (1.00 / 2) (#62)
by ncrptnc on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 07:46:22 AM EST

kuwaerufivechin = Richard A. Posner

[ Parent ]
it isn't weird at all (4.00 / 2) (#34)
by streetlawyer on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 11:25:40 AM EST

If your response to losing a case is to start accusing the judge of being bribed (on the basis of really quite poor evidence), then you really can't expect to be treated with kid gloves.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Yeah (4.00 / 1) (#46)
by rusty on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 01:49:07 PM EST

If there's any non-X-File explanation, I guess that would be it. That basically, the justices got together and said "this guy's off the deep end. We need to shut this circus down, and tight." I also thought the evidence that the judge was actually corrupt (as opposed to just incomepetent) was pretty much nonexistent. That is, what's missing is *anything* actually tying her to any of the shadowy conspiracy they allege. There's no evidence at all that any money changed hands in connection with her appointment.

They probably would have done much better to skip all that foolishness and try to get the case heard based on her massive and obvious incompetence instead.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

But isn't it telling... (4.00 / 1) (#61)
by DeHans on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 07:45:27 AM EST

that no law suit has been started for libel, slaunder or something like that. It could be that they haven't done that because the major news corps haven't been publishing this, but it could also be that they don't want this case in a court room.

It's always nice fishing for conspiracies while you don't have all the facts :-)

[ Parent ]
This article, (2.80 / 5) (#12)
by tiamat on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 01:26:02 AM EST

if it is 1/10th true, undermines any possible belief one might have in the American Judicial system.

It's amazing that something like this could have gone one so long without being made a bigger issue.

+1FP and lets hope someone from Coke sees it here

After this last election, you still have doubts? (3.00 / 4) (#15)
by anansi on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 03:12:49 AM EST

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"
[ Parent ]

Well, frankly, (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by tiamat on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 11:00:30 PM EST

I still had some belief that there might be some actual PEOPLE in the system that were good. I guess I was mostly taken by surprise with the accucations againsts the judges.

And hey, I live in .ca, so I don't get as exposed to this stuff as some.

[ Parent ]
As if I need this article ... (4.00 / 2) (#37)
by Zero Tolerance on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 11:42:56 AM EST

if it is 1/10th true, undermines any possible belief one might have in the American Judicial system.

I think the OJ trial, the last election, the FBI's failure to provide documents, etc. would have have already shattered your "belief" in the so-called American Judicial system. Or, one could also be more pragmatic and realize that 1) in a country of 250+ million people, it's probably not wise to judge the whole system based on several high-profile cases of incompetence and corruption. Salon's story on judges being stuck with inflexible rules in the 'drug war' -- something which affects many more people and which has greater consequences for the American Judicial system -- is more important, in my eyes.

That having been said -- anyone who didn't already believe that Coke is just another impersonal corporation out to maximize shareholder profit at almost any cost (including the trampling of 'the little guy' and the breaking and bending of laws) is a fool. It's business as usual. Not right, but not surprising.

The story was nice and dramatic, though :)

Give a man a fire and he will be warm for a day. Set a
man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.
[ Parent ]

question about copyright scenario (3.80 / 5) (#13)
by mkc on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 02:44:55 AM EST

That was interesting, I guess, if a bit of a brick to read.

I do wonder about one of the key assertions made around page 5 or so, which was that if Coca Cola's copyright had expired and then this guy had copyrighted it after that, he would get the copyright. This makes it sound a bit like getting a domain name that someone has failed to renew.

The problem is that copyrights don't work like this, as far as I know (IANAL). When something passes into the public domain, it stays there, and no further copyright can/should be given for it.

Now, of course, I suppose it would be arguably bad for Coca Cola just for this copyright to pass into the public domain. And there might be some complicating issues here having to do with the possibilities that these are derivative works. But still, this left me wondering.
-- Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a day. Give him a patent on fishing and he can enjoy watching everyone else starve every day.

Question of copyright indeed (4.33 / 6) (#18)
by sigwinch on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 04:06:22 AM EST

When something passes into the public domain, it stays there, and no further copyright can/should be given for it.
A sufficiently creative derivative, however, could be copyrighted.
Now, of course, I suppose it would be arguably bad for Coca Cola just for this copyright to pass into the public domain.
But it wouldn't have been that bad, and that's why the whole situation makes no sense to me. Coca-Cola would still have had the trademarks, which last forever unless they are not properly defended, or unless they are voluntarily given up. They could still have enjoined people from producing Coca-Cola cans and paraphenalia. The amount of addional protection afforded by copyright was trivial and essentially meaningless. Way back in '61, they could have put the copyright in the public domain themselves, and it wouldn't have made a damn difference.

I figure 1) that they were licensing to bottlers on the basis of copyright, which would have been a fraud after it expired, 2) some idiot VP of litigation didn't understand copyright vs. trademark and got them into a lawsuit they couldn't back down on once it was started, or 3) they are so arrogant that they can't imagine not winning a case. Whatever it is, the Coke leadership is operating on a reality-constrained basis.

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Hrrrrmmmm. I don't see it. (3.66 / 3) (#17)
by gnovos on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 03:46:15 AM EST

Classic Coke... hmmm hmmm hmmm, Classic Cars. It isn't a very big leap to make. Sure, it could have been stolen, but there is a case to be made that some lackey in the mailroom of Coke, inc. also had the same idea at the same time.

Maybe that doesn't excuse all the general impoliteness of the situation, but still, as far as Coke sees it, some punk ad drone is trying to steal money from them, so of course they are going to fight tooth and nail.

A Haiku: "fuck you fuck you fuck/you fuck you fuck you fuck you/fuck you fuck you snow" - JChen
hmm (3.00 / 1) (#51)
by camadas on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 05:30:58 PM EST

You're not actually see a big company like this, resorting to steal an individual designer just to spare a few dollars. They knew that they blew it, that's why they never give him credit for his work since that would validate his (later, well after) claims. Their arguments about the invalidity of his claims on the other hand can be used against their own 93 claim but hey never refused that the work wasn't his or that they haven't seen it.

[ Parent ]
Hey camadas! (very off topic - I apologize) (3.00 / 2) (#75)
by WinPimp2K on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 04:26:45 PM EST

Would you take the time to go read the faq on how to rate comments? If you don't see anything wrong with how you are rating comments, please explain as I sure don't understand how everything you rate is either a 1 or (very rarely) a 5

[ Parent ]
Explanation (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by camadas on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 03:38:43 AM EST

Damn, you made me login again. In the parent post, I try to explain to Gnovo what is "not seeing". Yes my english is bad, but that post actually got me one email from the original article author where he says "Nice to see someone actually got this". Now, until that day, I've never cared much about ratings, and I didn't even know that 0 was invisible to most users. As you may see the previous poster "who doesn't sees it" has a 3.5, even you at off-topic got 1 and me trying to be helpful got 0. Obviously there is no point on keep posting here. Since i've not found an option to terminate my k5 account, for the very first time I decided to have a little fun yesterday with ratings. If you don't see anything wrong in the rating of this thread, i surely don't see how mine _own_ moderation is worse. Regards, and next time use the email, is valid and I read it from time to time.

[ Parent ]
Ah the good old days (4.00 / 5) (#20)
by ubernostrum on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 04:49:44 AM EST

The story begins with a major advertising agency stealing an independent consultant's story-boards and culminates with allegations that Coke filed fraudulent copyright applications and enacted a high-level form of espionage against their legal opponent. What's more, the federal judge in the case has been accused of having links to organized crime. Tantalizing? You bet. And we're only getting started...
In this day and age of high-tech snooping, corporate monopolies, and our our total lack of any recognizable rights (that is, if you trust /. to get your news for you), it's nice to see a return to the fundamentals - outright theft, organized crime, and corrupt judges. If only it could always be so good...

You cooin' with my bird?
does the law say what they say? (4.33 / 9) (#21)
by streetlawyer on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 05:13:36 AM EST

Does the law actually say that, through some convoluted process, it is not only possible for Coca-Cola to lose the rights to the Coca-Cola bottle, but for those rights to become the property of a random freelance designer and marketeer? This seems unlikely on the face of it.

And so it transpires .... GNN say:

"Under the 1909 Copyright Act, a registered copyright for artwork must be renewed every 28 years. In the case of the "Coca-Cola can incorporating the Contour Bottle," the work had been created for a highly publicized campaign in 1961. This means that the date of renewal would have been somewhere in 1989, not 1993 as is stated in the letter from Coke's attorney Brooks. So what happened between 1989 and 1993? This is a very important question because if a work is not `timely renewed' then that copyright slips into the public domain and becomes unrecoverable by the original author. Unless someone else attains ownership of the copyright. "

The US Copyright Office FAQ says:

"Do I have to renew my copyright?

No. Works created on or after January 1, 1978, are not subject to renewal registration (see Circular 15). As to works published or registered prior to January 1, 1978, renewal registration is optional after 28 years but does provide certain legal advantages. For information on how to file a renewal application as well as the legal benefit for doing so, see Circular 15 and Circular 15a.

Circular 15 itself looks a bit more favourable to Kolody, but the situation is clearly nothing like as simple as it is portrayed.

I have to say that this story strikes me as "Submitted work on spec, had it ripped off". Which, as any freelancer knows, is "get over it" territory. And the testimony of litigants-in-person about their own cases is one of the saddest forms of literature, but not one of the most reliable.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever

part of the story ... (2.83 / 6) (#35)
by Zero Tolerance on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 11:32:39 AM EST

You know how all those conspiracy theories seem *really* convincing until you realize they're only giving you the part of the 'data' that fits their theory? This reminds me of that a bit, and your post in particular helps; you provided some good extra info.

I read (most) of the story, and I can imagine it happening. I can also see that judge being totally incompetent. However, as a piece of "journalism" the "story" is severely wanting in various areas. It was severely one-sided; part of that may have to do with getting little help from Coke. Anyway, it does read more like a plot-outline for a novel than a piece of 'serious' journalism (I know, look at the source ...)

Give a man a fire and he will be warm for a day. Set a
man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.
[ Parent ]

Really pretty simple... (2.00 / 2) (#39)
by driftingwalrus on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 12:07:37 PM EST

The no renewal bit only applies to work created AFTER January 1, 1978. The work under dispute here was created in 1961 - therefore was subject to renewal.

"I drank WHAT?!" -- Socrates
[ Parent ]
Actually, your wrong. (2.50 / 2) (#40)
by topham on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 12:25:18 PM EST

Actually, if you read it you will see that it only means a Registered one has a legally unambiguous standing. Not registering a copy right after 1978 DOES NOT mean it does not exist. It was unofficially copyrighted when the documentation for the previous elapsed.

THe same as if it had been a work created after 1978 and no paperwork was filed. It is still tehcnically copyrighted.

[ Parent ]

Technically, registration not strictly necessary (5.00 / 1) (#42)
by weirdling on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 12:58:13 PM EST

Registration on copyrighted materials definately improves your chance of winning a copyright suit, but simply putting '(c) <your name here> <current year>' in something you create will protect it under copyright law as long as you can demonstrate that you actually wrote it, which is the part registration helps with.
This change was actually intended to help the little author, who can't afford the time or cost of copyright on something that may be of little value. However, should it become of value, having put the copyright notice in it would stop others from immediately stealing it.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Hey! I know what this is! (3.00 / 3) (#22)
by G_Man on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 05:19:05 AM EST

Why, this is the plot outline of John Grisham's next book!

And in the movie adaptation, Tom Cruise can play Ivy, the lawyer whose due process is circumvented; Gene Hackmen will be the devious Coke exec; and we can put James earl Jones in the wheel chair, the man with much wisdom and experience who is really not that involved in the whole ordeal.

diabolic giggling (4.50 / 2) (#24)
by eudas on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 05:38:01 AM EST

Can you really see James Earl Jones going 'hee heeeee heeeeeeee!' over the telephone? :)

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
Yes... (none / 0) (#48)
by Ozymandias on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 03:57:21 PM EST

See "Field of Dreams". 'Nuff said.

- Ozymandias
[ Parent ]
an omission on page 11 (2.00 / 3) (#23)
by eudas on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 05:27:27 AM EST

On page 11 of the original article, they go a-b-c-d-e-g-h. they left out F.

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
re: Bogosity (2.00 / 2) (#26)
by ncrptnc on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 06:17:38 AM EST

kuwaerufivechin = Richard A. Posner ?

You could always ask for an explanation? (3.00 / 4) (#27)
by palmersperry on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 06:27:36 AM EST

Go to One Share - buy a share of coca-cola, and then write as a shareholder to the board asking for their side of the story ...

Legalease (3.33 / 3) (#30)
by Highlander on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 07:31:29 AM EST

Well quite an interesting article to read. But leaving all legalease aside, what is really the issue here ?

If talking about patents, deCSS or sourcecode, kuroshin readers usually argue against intellectual property rights.

If copyright law means that someone filing a copyright application - suspiciously in the same year that Coca Cola's copyright expires - to a work of art ( a rendition of the classic bottle ) suddenly has claims to several billions of corporate income then obviously something is wrong with the notion of copyrights.

This is why I don't think this part of the story does merit support. However, I do wonder how a judge can simply bar a lawyer from appearance without giving a single reason.

Accepting an argument like this, that a judge can simply bar a lawyer if "he has a bad feeling", I have to wonder how being barred in one court can lead quickly to bars in other courts. In this light, this seems to be bad practice.

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.

sort of... (4.00 / 2) (#56)
by hansel on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 10:59:06 PM EST

The copyright infringement case was for the purpose of getting a serious lawyer involved, because none would take the case when it was a hazy "Coke stole my concept" case.

Of course, the real point of the story, and Kolody's battle, is the abuse of the courts by Coke, Simon, and the judges themselves.

[ Parent ]
GNN (3.00 / 4) (#31)
by Anatta on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 08:05:46 AM EST

I just don't know... by using names like "Echelon" instead of "Herb Smith", GNN seems to be manipulating the reader into making something that could be sketchy into full-blown Illuminatus-style conspiracy. Of course, the Illuminatus had a much better sense of humor... And also, when was the last time a lawyer presented with any sort of decent evidence passed up the opportunity to get 30+% of a lawsuit valued well into the billions...
My Music
Definitely not surprising (3.00 / 3) (#32)
by slaytanic killer on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 08:52:01 AM EST

I've spent a while in Chicago, and briefly was acquainted with a couple people mentioned in the story (in a trivial way, just talked with their children; good to have lived in Hyde Park). I certainly have no idea what is true or not in the story, but Chicago is really a disturbing place, politically speaking. There's Daley Jr... enough said. I personally knew a politician whose life was in considerable distress because he wasn't well-liked by the sekrit Powers That Be.

While I wrote that with a sarcastic tone (Chicago tries to be a no-nonsense place), it is definitely a place of hard-knocks. If Stone (guy at the UofC, constitutional law prof) was so appalled at the debate he had with Judge Posner, then he really has learned nothing. I can only assume he was being rhetorical in his shock.

I once recommended to someone here that they watch The Skulls DVD because of the director's attitude towards his actors. But I wonder if the reporter at GNN was entranced by it because of the plot.

Why this is incredible. (4.33 / 6) (#36)
by mathematician on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 11:37:38 AM EST

Coke got a copyright on its Coke bottle symbol in 1961. Since copyright law allows you to renew a copyright when its 28 year duration is ending (new copyright law doesn't require this), they needed to renew it in 1989. They renewed it in 1993 (they knew it was too late, they got a warning). Bob Kolody, on the other hand, got a copyright for a graphic with a Coke bottle in 1989, precisely when Coke's expired.

What does this mean? Shit storm! Coke licenses its intellectual proprety to bottlers around the world, charging them hefty fees to use their copyrighted graphics. Since Bob owns the copyright, those bottlers have been paying the wrong people. Worse is that Coke knew it as soon as Bob sent his second legal letter to them and they're still collecting (which amounts to FRAUD).

Bob could collect billions from Coke for the copyright. He could collect millions from Simon Marketing (they also do McDonalds) because they actually used his crappy classic cars, classic coke idea ;) Never mind the legal crap this has stirred as all these judges rally behind each other and around Coke, ignoring the law. To paraphrase a quote from the article: The cover up is usually much worse than the crime.

site is down? (none / 0) (#41)
by tacklebeth on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 12:52:26 PM EST

Did anyone else notice the site seems to be down now?

Back up. (none / 0) (#47)
by porovaara on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 02:23:29 PM EST

I got email from the author of the story, they went down because of the load but right now it seems to be up and working.

[ Parent ]
sorry it's back down again. (none / 0) (#64)
by mkelley on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 01:36:59 PM EST

back down

life is like a freeway, if you don't look you could miss it.
[ Parent ]

Would have liked to have read the story... (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by weirdling on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 01:19:34 PM EST

Apparently they can't handle the load.
However, a few points: civil trials are not under fifth or fourteenth amendment protection. One does, indeed, have to be nice to the judge in order to continue the trial. Federal judges have far-reaching powers in civil trials in order to limit the number of frivolous lawsuits faced.
However, the whole case is rather idiotic on the face of it, given that copyrights *revert to public domain*, and can't be claimed by *anybody*. If it is a derivative work, by definition far enough away, then it is independantly copyrightable, anyway. So, even if this guy did register for an expired copyright, he can't charge Coke for its use. Further, copyright law no longer requires registration, as others have pointed out, and, to any casual observer, Coke clearly has demonstrated they own the copyright, as they first registered back in the sixties and have been using it on advertising since. Sorry, but no case. I'd like to get an unbiased story about this, though, to find out what Ivy really did that got him into so much trouble...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
You're missing a few points (none / 0) (#55)
by hansel on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 10:55:47 PM EST

  • Kolody was the first to use the curvy-glass bottle image in a derivative work--namely, his storyboards for the classic cars concept that Coke stole later. They hadn't been using the curvy-glass bottle image for years. Thus, Kolody held the copyright on the derivative work.
  • Kolody didn't want to charge Coke for the use of the image. He was trying to establish that Coke had stolen his concept, but couldn't get a lawyer to represent him until he came up with a legally clearer case of copyright infringement.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps he should have been clearer (none / 0) (#66)
by weirdling on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 04:36:10 PM EST

If the copyright infringement was over the storyboard, the bottle is incidental. Using classic cars and a classic bottle is certainly close enough to 'independantly obvious' to make it hard to defend, though, as Coke has been doing classic coke with classic this or that forever. Copyright law says you can't copyright anything that is independantly obvious, such as the letter R, or the idea that red is a color. I guess I just don't see a problem here, but the case really wasn't about the copyright for the bottle itself, for which he certainly could not have had the right, as it had already been copyrighted and never sold to him, nevermind that the registration requirements had also changed making it unnecesary for Coke to register when he claims it was necessary. That being said, he might have a claim that Coke saw his storyboard and borrowed his *idea*, but that's an entirely different case, in which you have to prove that Coke did, indeed, create an idea substantively similar to yours after the executives in charge were tainted by having viewed your idea, which is why there is often a church and state separation in a large corporation between those who evaluate ideas and those who create them internally.
I just guess that it looks very weak on the face of it to me...
I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
copyright and trademark issues (none / 0) (#74)
by technodummy on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 05:12:59 AM EST

A lot of people who I've seen comment on this case, are mixing up copyright and Trademarks.

You can't Trademark "Corn Flakes" as it's a description of the product anyone can use. Also, a violated Trademark can become public domain if it's not defended as a Trademark, just ask Lycra.

There's so many issues in this case: copyright, trademarks, theft, human error, the patent office, the courts, corruption, red tape and justice.

While I do like the site, I'd really like some more info, something a little more independant from one of the parties.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps a silly question (none / 0) (#49)
by Lord13 on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 04:08:53 PM EST

This may be a stupid question, but I have to ask...

The article states that Kolody applied for and was granted a copyright on the contour bottle image of Coca-Cola in 1989. In fact there is a link supplied with the image he supposedly received a copyright for, located here.

If Kolody owns the copyright to the Coke Bottle image, aren't there some other avenues he could use to challenge the company? I guess I'm thinking he should be able to go after the company for infringing on his copyright, which should bring the whole fraud deal up in a different court. Couldn't he try something like this just to bring publicity to the bigger case? Maybe even sue one of the companies that licensed the image from Coke.

I mean if he REALLY owns the copyright, he must have some other avenue, right?

I'm talking out of my ass and probably demonstrating my incredible lack of understanding of the situation. Nothing new.

Growing half a tree, water it everyday.
Double Jeopardy (none / 0) (#71)
by RobotSlave on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 03:43:51 AM EST

He could try, but I think it would be tough to get a trial with the prior case on the books.

[ Parent ]
on a much lighter side... (3.00 / 1) (#50)
by camadas on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 05:12:06 PM EST

Did any of you heard anything about Fidel manufacturing Coca-cola in Cuba, after loosing a trial on U.S. on Habana Club trademark. It seems since it was trialed that his trademark wasn't enforceable on the States, because of the embargo, he declared that in such case, then american trademarks wouldn't have any value in Cuba. Any of you read this too, or was I dreaming ?

copyright squatting somehow better? (none / 0) (#52)
by lb on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 08:48:50 PM EST

Once you get past all his questionable conspiracy-type claims, what this guy was trying to do is similar in a lot of ways to domain squatting, which I know a lot of people here have a problem with. Why is this better? Simply because he's trying to stick it to a big corporation?

I love hypocrisy.

Did you read the story? (4.00 / 3) (#54)
by hansel on Tue Jun 19, 2001 at 10:50:03 PM EST

Kolody didn't copyright the curvy-glass bottle image. Once the copyright lapsed after 28 years, it could no longer be copyrighted--only derivative works, like Kolody's storyboards.

Someone at Coke goofed, and forgot to copyright a derivative work. Thus, Kolody's storyboards were the first instance of the image as a derivative work, and held the copyright. So when Coke stole Kolody's classic cars concept via the storyboards supplied by Kolody to Simon Marketing, they infringed Kolody's copyright. They tried to cover up their administrative mistake by copyrighting a derivative work in 1993, and that's where the whole tale of judicial misconduct comes in: if Kolody, Ivy et al had been able to contest it in court fairly, Kolody would hold the copyright to the derivative work, and Coke would no longer be in a position to licence that which it had charged distributors billions to licence since 1989.

It's a good story, and bears a close reading to fully understand what's at stake.

[ Parent ]
The point of the story (none / 0) (#73)
by ChuckChunder on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 04:43:52 AM EST

Is surely not that Kolody has some claim over Coke's valuable bottle logo. Any claim he may have seems to have been entirely accidental on his part.
Originally he just wanted payment for work that he thought he had done and deserved money for.
The story is how this, on the face of it, fairly simple and even mundane disagreement has spiralled into something immensly larger, apparently sucking in more and more people who each have a stake in suppressing due process.

[ Parent ]
fukin hell (none / 0) (#57)
by nhems on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 01:14:04 AM EST

this is one of the heaviest things I have ever read. A gem of Journalism. I have 0.01% interest in law, and anything to do with it, but I loved this article. onya porovaara.
interest in law. (none / 0) (#63)
by www.sorehands.com on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 09:57:07 AM EST

After reading this, did it give you an interest in law?

] In fighting my Battel with Mattel, I learned much of the law out of survival.

Mattel, SLAPP terrorists intent on destroying free speech.
[ Parent ]

Making a fuss in OZ (4.00 / 1) (#58)
by nhems on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 02:00:26 AM EST

I was reading at the end of the article about what to do if you want to do something about it. Being an Australian Citizen, Im not sure how much my letter to a US <insert government official> would help.

So I wrote to ye old trusty 4 Corners at 4corners@your.abc.net.au telling them about this article, cause I think it rocks. Any other Australian freedom lovin doodz (M/F of course), this is a call: send an email as well, get some <?unbiased> media attention on the issue. you know you wanto.

Tugging at your heart (3.00 / 2) (#59)
by mparcens on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 04:40:37 AM EST

Although this story is nice to read, I doubt it bears totally in factuality. A lot of the text is worded to try and persuade the reader to sympathize with Kolody, which makes it tough to distinguish between the facts and what the author wants you to think.

Case and point: They write about when Dan Ivy ran for congress in 1992. I lived in Sebastian County, Arkansas in 1992, and there is no way he had any shot of being elected. Dan Ivy is one of those lawyers who runs cheesy commercials on TV; I'm sure every town has one.

Try reading the article and noticing all the times when the author praises one of the defendants or talks about "bravery".

your cookies aren't that secure

Many people is missing the point (none / 0) (#77)
by HarryKeogh on Thu Sep 06, 2001 at 03:02:50 AM EST

After reading many posts, I had a feeling that a lot of people is missing the bigger picture, namely corruption, injustice and judgeship for sale. Regardless of what started this incredible cover-up, the cover-up itself has became a severe and even greater crime then what had started it. The apparent lack of respect from the judges to the plaintiff and his lawyer warrants a through investigation itself on the basic right of individuals in front of law. Does your common sense tell you that Judge Manning should not judge and over-rule allegation toward herself? To sum it up, the issue of this case is whether an individual's claim and right in front of the court of law can received equal treatment against corporation or politically influential person.

Coke, Fraud and Justice not Served. | 76 comments (74 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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