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Designer Skin LLC v. S & L Vitamins, Inc., et al.
Unauthorized internet reseller of plaintiff’s products is not guilty of trademark infringement, and does not cause actionable initial interest confusion, by using plaintiff’s trademarks in meta tags of website at which plaintiff’s and its competitors’ products are sold, and in...

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Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Massachusetts, Inc. v. Net Contents, Inc. d/b/a Virtual Vineyards, et al.

CA No. 97-12804-JLT, 1998 U.S. Dist. Lexis 12043, 10 F. Supp. 2d 84 (D. Mass., July 23, 1998)

Defendant Net Contents Inc. ("Virtual Vineyards") is a corporation with its principal place of business in California that operates a website under the name Virtual Vineyards. Defendant allegedly utilizes this site to sell and ship alcoholic beverages to Massachusetts residents. Defendant Federal Express was apparently hired by Virtual Vineyards to deliver these alcoholic beverages.

Plaintiff, a corporation owned by Massachusetts-based liquor wholesalers, objected to these sales, claiming that Virtual Vineyards lacked the license(s) required under Massachusetts statute M.G.L. Chapter 138 to sell alcoholic beverages to Massachusetts residents. Alleging that such sales tortiously interfered with its business relationships with consumers, plaintiff commenced this suit.

Defendant Virtual Vineyards moved to dismiss on the ground that private citizens such as plaintiff could not bring an action seeking to enforce M.G.L. Chapter 138. The District Court agreed and dismissed plaintiff's claims against Virtual Vineyard. Said the court:

[I]t is clear that no private right of action for damages exists under Chapter 138 ... [T]he statute [M.G.L. Chapter 138] confers upon the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission the express power to enforce its provisions through the assessment of criminal penalties in the form of fines and/or imprisonment. M.G.L. c.138 §§ 2, 22 & 62 (1991). The statute does not confer upon the plaintiff, either expressly or implicitly, any right to restrain Virtual Vineyard's activities, even if they violate its provisions.

The Court also dismissed plaintiff's tortious interference claim against defendant Federal Express, finding that this claim was preempted by the Federal Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.

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