Designer Skin LLC v. S & L Vitamins, Inc., et al.
Teletech Customer Care Management (California), Inc. v. Tele-Tech Company, Inc.
Case No. 96-8377 MRP (D. Cal. May 9, 1997)
Plaintiff owned the federally registered service mark "teletech" which it utilized since 1982 to promote its business of handling inquiries from, and providing information to its clients' customers, both by phone and the Internet. The court found that plaintiff "may be the largest provider" of such services worldwide, and that plaintiff's mark was "famous" within the meaning of the Lanham Act.
Defendant Tele-Tech Company, Inc. provides engineering and installation services to the telecommunication industry. It's use of the name "tele-tech", with a hyphen, predates plaintiff's use of its mark.
Defendant obtained the domain name "teletech.com" at which it operated a website advertising its business. It also operated a second website at "tele-tech.com." Finding that defendant's use of plaintiff's service mark in its domain name violated the Federal Trademark Dilution Act, Section 43(c) of the Lanham Act, the court enjoined defendant from further utilizing "teletech" without hyphen in its domain name. The court found that such use "dilutes" plaintiff's mark, presumably by associating it with defendant's products, and by preventing plaintiff from using the mark in a domain name to advertise its own products.
The court went on to hold, however, that defendant could continue to use "tele-tech" (with a hyphen) in a domain name.
Moreover, the court held that defendant's use of the "teletech" mark did not constitute either trademark infringement or false designation of origin under the Lanham Act. The court reasoned that while the user might initially be confused when arriving at the "teletech.com" site and not finding a site referencing plaintiff, he will soon determine that the site refers to another company, defendant "Tele-tech," which sells different services. Said the court:
The full text of this decision can be found on a website maintained by the law firm of Bazerman & Drangel, P.C.