Last month, an anonymous group pulled a prank on Koch Industries, the company that's notorious for opposing environmental regulations. The group produced a fake press release and website claiming that the company's days of environmental neglect were over, and that Koch was prepared to adopt policies to address climate change. So how did Koch Industries take to being called environmentally friendly? Not well, it turns out -- the company is suing the anonymous pranksters, because their stunt served to "disrupt and harm Plaintiff's business and reputation." I guess the reputation of Koch Industries rests on being perceived as being harmful to the environment ...The press release that stoked Koch's ire began with the following statement: "Koch Industries remains committed to environmental responsibility and stewardship, announcing today that it will restructure its support for organizations that undertake climate change research and advocacy." Pretty inflammatory stuff.
Of course, everyone immediately recognized that the release was a joke, and blogs and newspapers from the New York Times to the Hill ran the story saying so. But Koch is suing the pranksters anyways. According to the Wonk Room, it claims that the "Defendants issued the false press release and set up the fake website with the intent to deceive and confuse the public, to disrupt and harm Plaintiff's business and reputation, and to draw attention to and funding for Defendants' activities."
Of course, 2/3rds of this is flat-out wrong: The intent clearly was not to "confuse" or "deceive" the public, but to make a joke. Nobody was deceived for a second. Secondly, the joke was carried out by anonymous pranksters -- how does anyone "draw funding" if they remain anonymous? And which of the unknown persons' activities were they drawing attention to? It just doesn't make sense.
One thing is clear, above all: Koch can't take a joke.