In an unusual move, the campaign team for Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul has filed a trademark and defamation lawsuit against for-now anonymous individuals who uploaded unauthorized attack videos.
The videos in question bear the name “NHLiberty4Paul” and malign former candidate Jon Huntsman’s religion and ties to China. The Paul campaign has disavowed the videos.
“This is a classic case of dirty politics resulting from the unlawful use in commerce of an underhanded and deceptive advertisement designed to tarnish plaintiff’s reputation,” reads the complaint (posted below) which was filed yesterday in San Francisco federal court.
The lawsuit is a “John Doe” suit in which a plaintiff initiates legal proceedings and then later adds the defendants real names once their identities are obtained (usually by means of a subpoena on an internet service provider).
The lawsuit is unusual from both a legal and political perspective. Ron Paul is a libertarian whose signature issue is individual liberties and freedom from government — the use of a John Doe lawsuit is potentially incongruous with these values.
The defamation claims are also a surprise because under First Amendment laws it is nearly impossible for a high profile politician to file a successful libel suit. The campaign may have similar difficulties with its trademark claim.