Trademark

The issue here, presented in the context of a motion to dismiss, is whether adoption of a trademark as a search engine keyword constitutes a “use” under the Lanham Act.  The Lanham Act requires “use in commerce” as a condition of infringement, and as Judge Gertner points out, various courts have taken different positions on whether purchase of a trademarked keyword to trigger a sponsored link on a search engine is a “use” of the trademark.  Judge Gertner surveyed the field and noted that most of the courts that have considered this issue have found that utilizing a trademark in this manner does constitute “use” under the Act, and she sided with what she considers to be the majority view (the significant exception being the Second Circuit’s decision in 1-800 Contacts v. WhenU).

Hearts of Fire v. Blue Nile

For earlier postings on this issue click here and here.… Read the full article

Here is a link to the decision of federal district court judge John W. Darrah (N.D. Ill.), denying the defendants motion to dismiss in the trademark suit brought by the Jones Day law firm against the web site Blockshopper.com, which reports on upscale residential real estate transactions in Chicago and other cities. I wrote about this case in some detail here. Jones Day’s assertion that a post on the site describing real estate purchases by two Jones Day attorneys could create confusion (and therefore constitute trademark infringement) has been widely ridiculed. The judge, however, disagreed. His decision is highly legalistic, and takes Jones Days’ allegations at face value, despite the fact that they are (in the opinion of many knowledgeable observers) implausible on their face (to put it mildly).  Go figure.… Read the full article

A Great UDRP Decision Search Engine

by Lee Gesmer on October 17, 2008

USpeakWeType Technologies, LLC has done the trademark bar a big favor by creating a UDRP search engine. This is the first time we have had access to the enormous volume of material that has been decided in the UDRP arbitrations.

An example: assume that you are involved in an arbitration that has been assigned to panelist Ian Bradshaw. A search on his name shows that he has decided nine cases, involving brands as well known as Volvo and Chivas. He has ruled in favor of the complainant (either via tranfer or cancellation of the respondent’s domain) in every case. It would be nice to know this, wouldn’t it?

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"Brandsucks.com"

by Lee Gesmer on October 17, 2008

Did you ever wonder how many large companies register their own “sucks” domain names (as in “microsoftsucks.com” or “AIGsucks.com”) in order to prevent someone else from doing so? Like, some unfriendly nasty that wants to use the site to bash the company?

How many “CIOs” (“chief information officer,” for the uninitiated; don’t blame yourself if you didn’t know this), wish they had registered variations of their companies’ names before the “gripers” got ahold of them? Many, I suspect. Check out ebaysucks.com or alitaliasucks.com for example. Nasty stuff, for sure. Not good corporate publicity, for sure.

Bet the folks at eBay and Alitalia wish they’d grabbed these domain names before they were picked up by gripers. The cost of buying “ebaysucks.com” before someone else does is close to zero. It’s just a matter of anticipation.

Of course, its hard for companies to challenge the ownership of sites like these, since a clever owner can claim First Amendment protection as long as he or she doesn’t misstep and use the domain in a way that results in consumer confusion.… Read the full article