Commentary. We’ve sent a cease and desist from our lawyers who say, ‘They just copy-pasted the name and font, only changing the definite article.’ But no one can forge our history and integrity.

Knock-off ‘il manifesto’ launches in Greece with right-wing screeds

If you go on vacation to Greece this summer and happen to see on a newsstand a newspaper that has the same name and logo as the one you’re reading now, don’t buy it. We did not expand our circulation to Greece or decide to translate our articles. It is a case of blatant copyright infringement.

The perpetrators replaced the Italian masculine determinative article “il” with the Greek neuter equivalent “to,” but otherwise the masthead is identical to the one designed in 1971 by Giuseppe Trevisani, il manifesto’s first graphic designer. The only modification, which is telling, has to do with colors: there is no red strip underlining the name, but a yellow circle surrounding the first two letters.

After some investigation, attorneys Andrea Fiore and Alessio La Pegna, with the help of their Greek colleague Ioannis Apatzidis, sent a cease and desist letter on behalf of our cooperative to immediately cease publication of this pirated variant.

“Usually, those who try to appropriate others’ trademarks to exploit their fame use a little imagination. Perhaps by adding words or making small changes. Here, they just copy-pasted the name and font, only changing the definite article,” says La Pegna.

This name has 51 years of political positions and journalistic quality behind it. It cannot be besmirched by a propaganda rag carrying water for the current right-wing government led by Nea Dimkoratìa.

If you flip through “to manifesto,” you won’t find hard news, reportages or investigations, but only opinion pieces and political screeds which on the one hand glorify Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his team, and on the other relentlessly attack the opposition led by Alexis Tsipras and Syriza.

More than half of the 30 or so articles that editor Alexandros Papastathopoulos authored between June and July have Tsipras in the headline or cover image. It’s nothing short of an obsession.

There are no well-known figures among the newspaper’s staff, and editor Haris Pavlides is not known in Greek journalism circles either. There is an old description of him in the local version of the Huffington Post website, in which, among other things, he is listed as a press adviser to Dimitris Avramopoulos, a Nea Dimokratìa figure who was formerly minister of justice and European commissioner for migration.

In Greece, newspaper circulation and sales are not public. So there are no very reliable numbers, but the circulation of “to manifesto” appears limited.

In the press freedom index compiled annually by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Greece fell from 70th place out of 180 in 2021 to 108th this year. Two places below Ukraine, between Burundi and Zambia.

Radio, television and print media are, with very rare exceptions, mouthpieces for the right-wing. Partly because of this fact, since the funding channels are unclear, some are speculating that the ruling party is bankrolling this paper.

to manifesto” was born in April 2019, three months before the national elections. After a few pre-election physical editions, it continued to exist only as a website. The low circulation helped it stay inconspicuous, remaining hidden in the folds of the web.

On May 16, however, it returned to newsstands.

Accompanying the yellow and blue graphic announcing the news, which could be seen on the streets of Athens on the back of some buses, was the slogan: “At the center of power.”

Their Twitter profile, meanwhile, proclaims that “The middle class is the future of the nation.”

The crimes they’ve committed by copying the name and logo range from copyright infringement, to unfair competition, to plagiarism. il manifesto is a European-registered trademark, a historic trademark in Italy, and its protection goes beyond individual member states.

In this matter, however, the defense of our newspaper’s history matters more than just the protection of intellectual property. The red line underlining the letters of our masthead indicates a definite political orientation and an unblemished, independent publisher organized as a cooperative.

Those who want to make a yellow newspaper need to use another name.

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