Months ago, Dissent and our partner podcast Know Your Enemy were hit with a lawsuit in federal court by the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative organization with very deep pockets, for alleged federal trademark infringement, trademark counterfeiting, and common law unfair business competition. Yesterday, the suit was withdrawn because of legal oversights on the part of YAF. The ACLU and its co-counsel, which had been defending us in the suit, warn us that this battle is not necessarily over.
The short version of the suit is as follows: on Patreon, Know Your Enemy has three ironically named membership levels for their podcast. The $5/month level of support is called the “Young Americans for Freedom,” which the Young America’s Foundation claimed as their trademark. They alleged to have sustained “great and irreparable injury” because of confusion that may have resulted because of this joke. We are fortunate and grateful that the ACLU agreed to represent us.
As ridiculous and humorless as the charges are, we’ve taken the threat of legal costs and potential monetary damages very seriously. The magazine runs on a precariously tight budget. Matt and Sam, our podcast partners, were each named as separate defendants, with no organizational affiliation to protect them. In 2022, the Young America’s Foundation reported over $27 million in contributions alone. That same year, Dissent received just 1 percent of that in contributions. It’s clear that the Young America’s Foundation is swinging at independent left media. We’ve won a reprieve. But they’re big, they’re powerful, and they have the money to continue to intimidate us.
As ACLU attorney Brian Hauss told the New York Times, “What this really is, is bullying people who are commenting critically on the conservative movement, and using the cost of litigation to do that.”
Will you stand up to these bullies and make a (tax-deductible) donation to Dissent? We depend on your support.