Top Internet IP Cases of 2005 (So Far)

For the past two years, John Ottaviani and I have compiled a list of the top Internet IP cases of the year. (Despite the attribution, John O. did all the heavy drafting work). See our lists for 2003 and 2004.

I’ve been giving some thought to the list for this year. My contenders for the top Internet IP cases of the first half of 2005, in rough order of importance:

1. Grokster. This one’s easy! Grokster and StreamCast may have induced infringement.

2. 1800 Contacts v. WhenU. Adware vendor does not “use” trademarks.

3. Bosley Medical Institute v. Kremer. Protecting noncommercial gripe sites.

4. In re Napster Litigation. “Distribute” does not mean “make available.”

5. Faegre & Benson v. Purdy. Important line-drawing discussion about metatags and pagejacking in the context of a gripe site.

6. Marvel v. NCSoft. Dismissing several types of claims against MMORPG because users had created characters that looked like plaintiff’s characters.

7. SMC Promotions v. SMC Promotions. Web host can’t pretend to be consumer’s agent for purposes of displaying photos that the host copied itself.

8. BMG Music v. Gonzalez. First reported case holding file-sharers liable for copyright infringement.

Some of the other interesting cases so far include WebLoyalty v. Consumer Innovations (website sales text may be copyrightable because it is more effective at conversion-to-sale), Google v. American Blinds (Google not able to dismiss trademark claim based on keyword-triggered ads), Apple Computer v. Doe (did bloggers misappropriate trade secrets?), and Independent Living Aids v. Maxi-Aids (a convoluted opinion about the use of descriptive trademarks on websites).

Of course, any list like this is idiosyncratic and debatable. That’s part of what makes them so much fun! Let me know what Internet IP cases you would have put on the list.