November-December 2009 Quick Links, Part 1

By Eric Goldman

Trademarks/Domain Names

* Yahoo and Mary Kay settled Mary Kay’s trademark lawsuit over Yahoo’s email shortcuts.

* uBID Inc. v. The GoDaddy Group Inc., No. 09-cv-2123 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 5, 2009). uBid’s anti-domain name parking lawsuit failed on jurisdictional grounds. Tom O’Toole explains why this is an unusual jurisdictional ruling.

* Trademark Blog: “Sellify, operator of ONEQUALITY.COM, sues Amazon over Amazon affiliates’ alleged misuse of ONEQUALITY.COM as Google keywords.”

* In an unenlightening memo opinion, Second Circuit affirms the Cintas v. Unite Here opinion involving union activists’ web activities using a target company’s trademark. My initial blog post on the case.

* Bloomberg: Buyers of counterfeit luxury goods understand they are getting counterfeits, and many of them upgrade to the real thing eventually.

* Transamerica v. Moniker Online Services, 2009 WL 4715853 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 4, 2009). Domain name registrar does not qualify for ACPA’s registrar safe harbor when: “Transamerica alleges that Oversee and the Moniker Defendants, together with the ostensible registrants-the John Doe Defendants-are the de facto registrants of the domain names in question. Transamerica claims that Moniker was not merely acting as a registrant in providing registration services to the John Doe Defendants for the infringing domain names, but instead was part of a scheme to profit from the use of the infringing names. As Transamerica points out, Moniker receives a fee each time an internet user clicks on one of the links attached to the infringing domain sites; such payment establishes at least partial ownership in the domain name.” Troubling ruling.

* SafeWorks, LLC v. Spydercrane.com, LLC (W.D. Wash. Dec. 7, 2009). A trademark owner’s preemptive registration of domain names containing typographical errors of the registrant’s trademarks does not infringe a third party trademarks.

Marketing and Advertising

* In re Gemtronics (FTC ALJ decision Sept 16, 2009). A dietary supplement seller wasn’t liable for comments on a website that it didn’t own or control but (among other things) it had linked to. While this is great, I still believe the FTC needs to rethink its entire liability scheme of online content endorsement or adoption due to 47 USC 230. See 1, 2.

* Avvo settles Florida bar lawsuit and gets Florida to admit that client testimonials on Avvo aren’t lawyer advertising. Rebecca explains why an analogous South Carolina regulation violates 47 USC 230.

* After the FDA spooked pharmaceutical companies to stop engaging in search advertising, the FDA held hearings on Internet pharmaceutical marketing. The Arnold & Porter recap. Ironically, BusinessWeek ran a story wondering if pharmaceutical ads reduce consumer demand.

* The FTC cracks down on online negative option/”continuity plan” offerings.

* In re Miva Inc. Securities Litigation, 2009 WL 3821146 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 16, 2009). The court dismissed a securities class action lawsuit over Miva’s/FindWhat’s investor disclosures relating to click fraud and spyware. My initial blog post on the case.

* NYT: False advertising litigation is a growth industry.

Search Engines

* A Milwaukee lawyer has alleged that another lawyer buying keyword advertising triggered by his name violates his publicity rights. I’ve posted the complaint to Scribd.

* Google is now personalizing search results for everyone, not just logged-in users. In 2006, I wrote about how universal personalization would affect SEO and concerns about search engine bias. Danny Sullivan believes Google’s change deserves “extraordinary attention.”

* Google took out an ad from itself to explain why its image search results for Michelle Obama contained an offensive result. This is after it first tried to remove the image on the pretext that the website was hosting malware.

* Danny Sullivan asks some good questions about Google’s integration of Twitter into its search database.

* BusinessWeek: Matt Cutts, Google’s search engine anti-spam superstar, talks about his job. He doesn’t sound like the most fun person to travel with

* Rose Hagan, Google’s chief trademark counsel, is retiring after 7 years at Google. She leaves behind big shoes to fill.

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