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April 14, 2009 2:36 PM

'Gripe Site' Targeted by Goldman Sachs Slaps Back

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: April 14, 4:45 p.m. The story reflects a statement received from Goldman Sachs late Tuesday afternoon.

Less than a week before posting first-quarter earnings of $1.8 billion, Goldman Sachs's outside lawyers at Chadbourne & Parke sent a no-nonsense cease-and-desist letter to the blogger behind goldmansachs666.com, warning that legal action would commence if the site didn't remove the Goldman name.

The site--the brainchild of Mike Morgan, a Jensen Beach, Fla.-based investment adviser and real estate broker--includes short posts and links to conspiracy-tinged stories that suggest Goldman uses its influence and power for nefarious ends. One sample headline: Is Goldman Sachs Running the U.S. Government? - I Say Yes.

"People don't realize how much Goldman Sachs has infiltrated the world of politics and finance," says Morgan, explaining why he launched the site on March 26. "I wanted [my blog] to be a place to pull together all that scattered information."

And he's intent on keeping it that way. On Monday, Morgan filed a six-page complaint against the bank in U.S. district court in Fort Pierce, Fla., claiming that Goldman is trying to silence him. Morgan is represented in the matter by Joseph Beckman from The Intellect Law Group in Palm City, Fla.

A Goldman spokeswoman tells The Am Law Daily that the cease-and-desist letter is standard operating procedure for any company when it comes to protecting its name. She confirms that Chadbourne is regular outside counsel to the bank.

"We always act to protect our firm," Goldman spokeswoman Gia Moron said in a statement sent to The Am Law Daily later in the day Tuesday. "This is not about Mr. Morgan's rights to express his views; it is about his infringement on our trademark."

Morgan has posted a disclaimer on the blog disavowing any relationship or affiliation with Goldman. But the disclaimer appears to have been published after Morgan received the cease-and-desist letter signed by Chadbourne IP chair John Squires. Asked whether the disclaimer renders the trademark issue moot, the Goldman spokeswoman declined to comment. (Squires and Chadbourne also declined to comment.)

Morgan remains defiant. He's battled corporate adversaries before and he's got the litigation scars to prove it. "We've already begun planning our strategy," he says. "For me, this isn't new."

In June 2006 Morgan unveiled a Web site called defective-homes.net, a repository of information and complaints about homes built by Miami-based Lennar Corporation. With the housing market just starting to show signs of decline, the site grew in popularity with disgruntled homeowners.

Lennar sued Morgan in state and federal court in Florida, accusing him of trademark infringement and spreading false information about the quality of the company's construction methods. (Click here for a Wall Street Journal story on Morgan's battle against Lennar.)

After two years of litigation, Morgan settled out of court with Lennar when the company threatened further litigation in 14 other states. He says he no longer could afford the $100,000 per month in legal bills coming in from the four firms that represented him. (Lennar's lawyers from Miami's Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & AxelrodPeretz Chesal Herrmann, and Espinosa Trueba did not respond to The Am Law Daily's requests for comment on this latest action.)

If Lennar was too much for Morgan to handle, Goldman figures to be an even more formidable adversary.

"We're going to need money to keep [the site] going, but I can't collect donations from it because then it would be commercial use," says Morgan. That was a problem in the Lennar case, he says.

The IP blogosphere has been atwitter--both literally and figuratively--about the merits of Morgan's case ever since a story published last week in a UK newspaper highlighted the growing spat with Goldman. (Click here, here, and here for stories analyzing the IP issues in the dispute.)

Meantime, Morgan says Goldman's actions have inspired him to recruit volunteers to build a more comprehensive home page for goldmansachs666.com, which he claims gets between "1,000 and 1,500 unique visitors an hour." (Morgan says he isn't looking to make money from goldmansachs666.com, though the site discloses that he is shorting Goldman stock.) 

In the end, Morgan says, the dispute will not become "Mike Morgan against Goldman Sachs."

Whether he wants to admit it or not, right now, that's exactly what it is.

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Let's stop being sheep. This isn't about an individual, this company is literally driving the FUTURE of this country (they are in the Treasury, and throughout the political infrastructure). This is more than a spite about Goldman's sneaky earnings release (leaving out that 4th quarter '08 was cute!)

Goldman Sachs is not unconnected to people being silenced and larger, deep capture of the political infrastructure.

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