The story of why we stopped using
Anarchist Anti-Defamation League as our name.

On April 16, 1998 we received an email from Jill Kahn Meltzer advising us "that the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith has the exclusive right to use the name ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE". See email below along with our reply. On April 24, 1998 we received a 2nd email from Jill Kahn Meltzer. Many have expressed disagreement and suggested approaches, but we decided not to fight the issue and refer to ourselves as the Anarchist Action Network. We still continue to document the defamation of anarchy and anarchists in the media and support the direct confrontation of writers who defame anarchists and anarchy. We have decided not to provoke the ADL in a court battle.

The reputation of the ADL is already questionable ... on the web there are accusations that the ADL Helped HUAC In 1947 Witch-Hunts and a 1993 spy story where "an employee of the (so-called) Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith was found to be spying on Arab Americans and a large number of progressive organizations. He had collected files on over 10,000 individuals and 600 organizations - everyone from the Arab Amercian Antidiscrimination Committee and the ACLU to the African National Congress and the Centro Legal de La Raza, to the Earth Island Institute and Greenpeace, including even twenty San Francisco area labor unions and a large number of Central America solidarity organizations. Information on anti-apartheid activists was passed on to South African intelligence agents." ADL settled for $175,000. I contacted the webmaster at ADL ( to get their side of this story. No reply.

While the ADL has taken up the banner of "fighting hate on the net", I fear a much more sinister agenda. The ADL calls for new hate crime laws. I fear that what they really want is to impose censorship and criminalize views not in agreement with theirs. If they really were concerned about hate they might begin to consider how the growing income inequality in the United States creates an environment conducive to racist hatred. But no, they seem to prefer solutions which involve the heavy had of the government. A Jan. 12, 1998 New York Times letter to the editor takes ADL director, Abraham H. Foxman to task for calling for suppression of a "soon-to-be-published book by Ruth B. Birn and Norman G. Finkelstein that critiques Daniel Goldhagen''s controversial book on the Holocaust. ..." "Cries to Halt Publication of Holocaust Book" (Arts & Ideas, Jan. 10) The writer states, "... The Nazis banned books critical of their views; so did Stalin and so, until recently, did his successors. That''s how things work in totalitarian states. Abraham H. Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League calls for the Birn-Finkelstein book''s suppression. He should not forget that we live in a free society."

In a recent press release on their website, they talk of "The United States' recent action against a chemical weapons facility in Sudan" A "chemical weapons facility"? Even the government has backed down on this claim.

A further concern is Janet Reno's apparent friendliness with the ADL. Are we about to see even more government repression in this country?

Then there is the reference to David H. Strassler, ADL National Chairman, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, writing to the Prime Minister of Israel, "rulings which call on soldiers to disobey legitimate orders cannot be tolerated and will lead to anarchy." [New York, NY, July 13] Is Mr. Foxman deliberately using the word "anarchy" in a disparaging way?

the email exchange ...

From: Jill Kahn Meltzer
Subject: trademark infringement
Date: Thursday, April 16, 1998 6:10 AM

April 3, 1998

Anarchist Anti-Defamation League

Dear Sir/Madam:

We recently learned of your newly formed organization from the Internet, and
are writing to advise you that the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith
has the exclusive right to use the name ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE, and that
this name is federally registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,
and has achieved incontestable status.  

Courts which have had occasion to consider this question have all held that
the coined term "Anti-Defamation" originated with the Anti-Defamation League
of B'nai B'rith, that the phrases "Anti-Defamation" and the "Anti-Defamation
League" have become inseparably associated over the years in the public mind
with the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, and that for other
organizations to use these names would only lead to public confusion.

One such opinion was handed down by the United States Court of Appeals in
the case of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith v. National Mexican
American Anti-Defamation Committee, 510 F.2d 1246 (D.C. Cir. 1975).  In
finding in our favor, the Court stated that while "the use of appellee of
'Anti-Defamation Committee' in aid of its identification is signally
conducive to confusion with 'Anti-Defamation League' . . . proof of actual
confusion is not essential to establish the right to exclusive use of trade
names; probability is sufficient."

Two other cases which have upheld our exclusive right to the phrase
"Anti-Defamation" are the decisions of the New York State Supreme Court in
Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith v. American Italian Anti-Defamation
League, Inc., 283 N.Y.S. 2d. 828 (1967) and Anti-Defamation League of B'nai
B'rith v. Arab Anti-Defamation League, 340 N.Y.S. 2d 532 (1972).

We appreciate your desire to be identified as an independent organization;
we cannot, however, allow your adoption of a name which infringes upon our
registered mark, as it will likely cause public confusion.  In fact, it
appears to us that you may have selected a name so similar to our name in an
effort to draw upon the good will and national success that people associate

In view of the above, we must insist that you refrain from any further use
of the terms ANTI-DEFAMATION, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE, or any confusingly
similar phrase, and in some way modify or alter the name of your group to
delete the term "Anti-Defamation" as soon as possible to avoid any further

Please give us your written confirmation that you will select another name
and immediately cease your use the infringing mark.

I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.

Jill Kahn Meltzer
Corporate Counsel

our reply

Some questions:

1. Are you claiming to "own" the word "anti-defamation"?   

Online I find several "Anti-Defamation" associations who are clearly not
confused with the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith.  

Prabhupada Anti-Defamation Association
Roman Catholic Anti-defamation League of Newfoundland 
Hindu Anti-Defamation
The Extraterrestrial Anti-Defamation Organization
the Christian Anti-Defamation Alliance

Do you claim that these organizations are violating your trademark?   Have
you contacted these organizations with a similar request? 

2.  On what basis do you say there is confusion?  We clearly distinguish
ourselves on our website from the Anti-Defamation League in New York.  

3. "defamation" is a well defined English word  - "Act of injuring
another's reputation by any slanderous communication, written or oral; the
wrong of maliciously injuring the good name of another; slander;
detraction; calumny; aspersion".  Are you claiming exclusive use of this

4. What is the difference between The Anti-Defamation League of B'nai
B'rith and the Anti-Defamation League at   Are these the same
organization?  Which one do you represent?   

I would think that you would be happy to see other organizations dedicated
to eradicating the defamation of any particular group.   

Anarchists Anti-Defamation League

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