September 2008 Quick Links, Part 1 (Special Trademarks/Domain Names Edition)

By Eric Goldman

For some reason, September was an unusually busy Cyberlaw month, so I’m going to have at least 3 installations of my quick links series. This post focuses just on trademark- and domain name-related items from last month.

* Dozier Internet Law v. Riley. The Dozier Internet Law Firm is at it again. I last blogged about John Dozier for his claim that websites infringe copyright by republishing cease-and-desist letters. Now, he’s suing for trademark infringement because, among other things, a website put the Dozier law firm’s name into anchor text without the link going to the firm website. Fortunately, superstar trademark defense litigator Paul Levy of Public Citizen has taken up the matter and initiated a declaratory judgment lawsuit to stop the nonsense.

* Paul Levy is also taking on an “I-can’t-believe-it” trademark enforcement action by the Jones Day law firm. See Paul Levy’s post and their amicus brief. Wendy Davis piles on.

* adidas America, Inc. v. Payless Shoesource, Inc., 2008 WL 4279812 (D. Or. Sept. 12, 2008). The blockbuster trademark infringement damages award of over $300M has been reduced to “only” $65M.

* Miyano Machinery USA, Inc. v. MiyanoHitec Machinery, Inc., 2008 WL 4145649 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 5, 2008). More initial interest confusion silliness, including the court’s belief that a defendant’s disclaimer tacitly admits IIC.

* Healix Infusion Therapy, Inc. v. Murphy, 2008 WL 4155459 (S.D. Tex. Sept. 2, 2008). Previous blog coverage of this case. A domain name registrant who isn’t aware of the plaintiff’s trademark lacks the requisite bad faith to constitute ACPA cybersquatting.

* Richard D. Salgado, Piracy and Chaos in the Marketplace of Ideas: Why Money Cannot Be Everything When Assessing Initial-Interest Confusion and Nonprofit Trademark Holders, 61 Ark. L. Rev. 241 (2008). I generally ignore most articles on initial interest confusion, especially those that actually think the doctrine is a good one. However, this one caught my eye because of this paragraph:

This article argues that courts err when they require financial gain as part of the initial-interest analysis where the trademark holder’s enterprise is noncommercial. This requirement undermines the value of a trademark for a wide range of potential trademark holders. These holders include nonprofit organizations, churches, schools, and political organizations. These sanctions are what amount to cyber terrorism against others’ valuable ideas, messages, and expressions. This problem is particularly relevant in any election year as the Internet floods with websites on behalf of issues and candidates, selling nothing more than an ideology or identity. (emphasis added)

Cyber-terrorism??? Wow. Call Homeland Security pronto.

* The Power of Internet Gripe Sites: Managing the Destructive Potential of “BrandSucks.com.” Destructive potential….? Really. Once again, I ask, just how many people still type “[tm]sucks.com” into their web browser?

* I got an email from GoDaddy’s PR department touting: “New Go Daddy Product Helps Domainers Get Sites Developed.” I’ll be interested to see how this plays out. First, given GoDaddy’s history of having an itchy trigger finger when it comes to taking down its customers (see, e.g., 1 and 2), I wonder how many domainers are willing to rely on them? Second, if GoDaddy’s domainer customers get sued for trademark infringement, I wonder how a court will evaluate a domainer service provider so closely connected to the site content. See the Vulcan Golf v. Google lawsuit.

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