Larry Klayman, the conservative activist who was a thorn in then-President Clinton's side as the litigious head of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, filed a lawsuit in Miami Monday against the founders of "Freedom's Watch," a group founded by former Bush White House and administration officials to drum up public support for the continued U.S. military presence in Iraq.
Klayman says he's offended not just by the "theft" of the group's name, but by the fact that "by promoting the war in Iraq, they're using the name not for something that defends freedom, but for something that promotes chaos. I don't want my trademark to be used to promote the Iraq war."
Freedom's Watch spokesman Matt David dismissed Klayman's complaint. "It shouldn't surprise anyone that Larry Klayman is filing another lawsuit with absolutely no validity," he said.
Klayman, founder of the Klayman Law Firm in Miami, says he became interested in securing the rights to the name "Freedom Watch" after writers on The West Wing paid him a sort of homage by creating the character "Harry Claypool," who appeared on the NBC show in 2000. Claypool was head of the fictitious conservative watchdog group "Freedom Watch," annoying fictitious President Josiah Bartlet.
"I loved the name," Klayman told ABC News. "I thought it was better than 'Judicial Watch.' So I trademarked it."
Stories in the Washington Post and U..S News & World Report in 2003 mentioned Klayman's copyrighting of the name. Klayman press releases in 2005 and 2006 cite him as a founder of "Freedom Watch."
Klayman, who placed seventh in the eight-person Florida Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in 2004, says he has sent some mailings to begin fundraising for "Freedom Watch" so he was chagrined to see stories announcing the creation of the "Freedom's Watch" -- note the apostrophe -- this summer.
"I've been waiting for them to respond," Klayman said. "They can't wage war correctly, they can't tell the American people the truth about Iraq, and now they're trying to steal a trademark from a fellow conservative and Republican."
"I would have expected a robbery from O.J. Simpson, but not from all the president's men," Klayman said. "They owe me a hell of a lot of money."