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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...

Attorneys Fees - Internet Library of Law and Court Decisions - Updated October 3, 2007

469 F.3d 534, No. 05-2359 (6th Cir., November 27, 2006)

The Sixth Circuit affirms the District Court's award of summary judgment to plaintiffs, and holds that defendant Bob D'Amato infringed and diluted plaintiffs' famous "Audi," "Quatro," and Audi Four Ring Logo marks, and violated the Anticybersquating Consumer Protection Act.  Defendant was held to have infringed plaintiffs' marks by operating a website at the domain, at which both goods such as hats and shirts bearing the "Audi Sport" logo, and advertising space, were offered for sale.  The Sixth Circuit accordingly affirmed the District Court's decision, which permanently enjoined defendant from making continued infringing use of Audi's trademarks, directed D'Amato to transfer the domain to plaintiffs, and awarded plaintiffs Audi AG ("Audi") and Volkswagen of America Inc. ("Volkswagen") attorneys' fees as the prevailing party.  The Court reached this result notwithstanding both defendant's claim that his use of Audi's marks on his website in connection with the sale of goods was orally authorized by an Audi dealer, and his placement of a disclaimer on defendant's site after receipt of a cease and desist letter.  A written agreement between Audi and the dealer made clear that the dealer lacked authority to so authorize defendant's use of Audi's trademarks.

950 F. Supp. 737 (E.D. Va. 1997)

In this domain name dispute, Court issued permanent injunction enjoining use of "cardservice" in domain name because such use infringed trademark in "cardservice international."  The court further awarded plaintiff attorneys fees under the Lanham Act to compensate plaintiff for its efforts in stopping defendant from continuing this conduct.

950 F. Supp. 737 (E.D.Va. Jan. 16, 1997)

In this domain name dispute, Court issued permanent injunction enjoining use of "cardservice" in domain name because such use infringed trademark in "cardservice international."  The court further awarded plaintiff attorneys fees under the Lanham Act to compensate plaintiff for its efforts in stopping defendant from continuing this conduct.

2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15719 (E.D. Pa., October 30, 2000)

Court issues permanent injunction under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act ("ACPA"), enjoining defendant, described by the court as a "notorious cybersquatter," from continuing to operate web sites at domains containing common misspellings of plaintiff's registered service marks. The court also awarded plaintiff $530,653.34, which included both the maximum $100,000 statutory award for each domain name improperly used, as well as plaintiff's attorney's fees and costs.

2007 WL 1300065 (Cal. Crt. App., 2d Dist., My 4, 2007)

Granting defendant’s motion pursuant to California’s anti-SLAPP statute, Cal. Code Civ. Pro. Section 425.16, the court affirms the dismissal of plaintiff GTX Global Corp.’s (“GTX”) complaint, and awards defendant Andrew Left (“Left”) attorneys fees expended both in defending this suit and plaintiff’s appeal from the decision of the court below.  SLAPP is an acronym that stands for “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.”  GTX had sued Left, who runs the website, for publishing statements critical of GTX.  GTX charged that these statements were defamatory, and asserted claims of trade libel, interference with prospective economic advantage, and securities fraud against Left arising out of their publication.

The court found that Left’s statements were subject to the protections afforded by the anti-SLAPP statutes, because they addressed matter of public interest.  Finding that GTX had failed to submit any evidence that defendant’s challenged statements were false or defamatory, the court accordingly dismissed the suit.

328 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. May 9, 2003), amended and superseded by Horphag Research Ltd. v. Pellegrini, 337 F.3d 1036, 67 U.S.P.Q.2d 1532, 3 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 6649, 2003 Daily Journal D.A.R. 8380 (9th Cir.(Cal.) Jul 29, 2003) (NO. 01-56733, 02-55142) , Petition for Certiorari Filed, 72 USLW 3393 (Nov 20, 2003)(NO. 03-773)

The Ninth Circuit affirmed so much of the District Court's decision which held that defendant infringed plaintiff's trademark by his "pervasive" use of plaintiff's mark in both the metatags and text of his websites, on which he sold a competing product.  The Ninth Circuit also affirmed so much of the District Court's decision which awarded plaintiff substantial attorneys' fees for this infringement, agreeing with the lower court's determination that this was an "exceptional" case justifying such an award in light of defendant's willful use of the mark.

The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded so much of the District Court's decision that held that defendant's conduct diluted plaintiff's mark, in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision in Moseley v. V. Secret Catalogue, Inc, which mandated proof of actual dilution to sustain a trademark dilution claim.

2000 U.S. Dist. Lexis 4891, 94 F.Supp.2d 457 (S.D.N.Y., April 18, 2000)

Court refuses to hold defendants in contempt for violating an order and judgment which "enjoined defendants, in the United States, from 'advertising or promoting' apparel bearing Jeri-Jo's registered trademark ENERGIE ...". While plaintiffs held a valid US trademark in the ENERGIE mark, defendants held trademarks in the ENERGIE mark in Italy, France and Germany, as well as the right to market products bearing the mark in a number of other foreign countries as well. As a result, the court refused to hold defendants in contempt as a result of their operation of a web site at the domain "" at which United States users could view but apparently not buy clothing bearing the "ENERGIE" mark, nor did the court require defendants to delist the "" url from search engines. The court did, however, require defendants to remove hyperlinks to the "" site containing the word "ENERGIE" from two other web sites defendants operated at and, at which sites defendants apparently sold non-infringing apparel. The court also awarded plaintiffs the attorneys' fees expended in bringing on the instant application.

00 Civ. 7274 (LAP)(S.D.N.Y. June , 2001)

Court holds that Section 1399-11 of New York's Public Health Law runs afoul of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, and accordingly permanently enjoins its enforcement. Section 1399-11 prohibits the shipments of cigarettes to consumers in New York. The statute's prohibitions apply to both retailers and common carriers, and effectively preclude the use of the Internet and mail order catalogues as a means of selling cigarettes to New Yorkers. "The statute … thus restrict[s] retail sales of cigarettes in New York to face-to-face transactions at in state retail locations." The Court held that the statute was unconstitutional because it violated the "dormant" aspects of the Commerce Clause, which prohibit States from passing legislation which discriminates against, or unduly burdens, interstate commerce.

79 F.Supp. 2d 331 (S.D.N.Y., Dec. 2, 1999)

The court awarded $46,000 to compensate for the attorney's fees expended in stopping defendant's infringement of plaintiff's common law trademark, which defendant used in both its domain name and meta tags.

488 F.3d 352, No. 06-2080 (6th Cir., June 14, 2007)

Reversing the court below, the Sixth Circuit awards plaintiff Thoroughbred Software International (“Thoroughbred Software”) $183,794.25 in “actual” damages it sustained as a result of defendant Dice Corporation’s (“Dice”) distribution of unauthorized copies of plaintiff’s software to its customers, which software was never used.  Such ‘actual’ damages were held to be the license fees plaintiff would have charged Dice for its use and/or distribution of the software in question.  These actual damages were awarded pursuant to 17 U.S.C. section 504(b) of the Copyright Act.  In reaching this result, the Sixth Circuit rejected defendant’s argument that Thoroughbred Software was not entitled to such relief because it could not prove that defendant’s infringing acts caused Thoroughbred Software any actual injury, as the software in question was never used.  The requisite ‘causal connection’ between defendant’s infringement and plaintiff’s loss of anticipated revenue was satisfied by the parties’ contract, which obligated defendant to pay a license fee for each copy it made and distributed of plaintiff’s software.

The Sixth Circuit also vacated the District Court’s denial of attorney’s fees to Thoroughbred Software as the prevailing party in a copyright infringement action, and remanded the matter for further consideration in light of the Court’s decision on appeal.

Quick Hits

ComputerXpress, Inc. v. Lee Jackson, et al.
93 Cal.App.4th 993, 113 Cal.Rptr.2d 625, E027841 (Cal. Court App., 4th District, Nov. 15, 2001).

Court dismisses trade libel and other claims brought by plaintiff ComputerXpress Inc. arising out of defendants’ publication of statements critical of plaintiff, its products, and its management on Internet message boards under California’s SLAPP (“strategic lawsuit against public participation”) statute, Cal. Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16.  This statute obligates a plaintiff that commences a suit arising out of “an act in furtherance of [defendant’s] right of petition or free speech … in connection with a public issue …” to demonstrate a prima facie case before being permitted to proceed with suit.  If the plaintiff fails to meet this burden, his claim will be subject to dismissal on a special motion to strike.  “Acts in furtherance of a person’s right of petition or free speech” under the Statute include “any written or oral statement or writing made in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest.”

The Court held that statements published on Internet message boards such as that at issue – Raging Bull – are statements published in a public forum within the meaning of California’s SLAPP statute.  The Court further held that statements concerning a public company and its business, which may affect numerous investors, are statements in connection with an issue of public interest.  As such, held the Court, the defendants were entitled to the protections of the SLAPP statute.

Finding that ComputerXpress failed to present sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie claim, the Court dismissed so much of its complaint that rested on the Internet postings at issue.  The Court rested its determination, in part, on its conclusion that the challenged statements were non-actionable statements of opinion.  “[W]hile the postings certainly could be considered disparaging, their tone and content identified them as statements of opinion and not fact.  …. [T]hey were hyperbolic, informal, and lacked the characteristics of typical fact-based documents.  Moreover, they were replete with explicit statements of opinion such as “IMO (in my opinion) “what I think is fraud” “I firmly believe” “is that fraud?” and “my guess is.”

The Court did allow plaintiff to proceed with fraud and interference with contractual relations claims arising out of independent acts unconnected with the challenged Internet postings at issue.  These claims arose out of disparaging statements made by defendants to a particular customer of ComputerXpress, as well as out of purported misrepresentations defendants made concerning their own business at a time plaintiff was considering its acquisition.  As to these claims, defendants’ motion to strike was denied.

Finally, the Court held that defendants were entitled to recover under California’s SLAPP statute those attorneys fees they had expended in moving to dismiss the claims on which they prevailed, but not those fees expended in moving to dismiss the remainder of the complaint.  Such an award was rendered pursuant to section 425.16(c) which provides that “a prevailing defendant on a special motion to strike shall be entitled to recover his or her attorney’s fees and costs.”  Said the Court: “Defendants consequently are entitled to recover attorney fees and costs incurred in moving to strike the claims on which they prevailed, but not fees and costs incurred in moving to strike the remaining claims.”

Download PDF of Court Decision Inc. v. Cangemi
188 F. Supp. 2d 398 (S.D.N.Y. 2002)

District Court awards $46,015 in statutory damages, attorney’s fees and court costs as a result of the copying of its website’s source code by a direct competitor, who utilized the same to operate a competing website. Of import, the court determined that a Web site's source code is considered "published" when the site goes live on the Internet. As Getaped registered its website within three months of this date, it was entitled to statutory damages under the Copyright Act, 17 USC 505, as a result of defendants’ copying of its site, which occurred after plaintiff’s site went live, but before a copyright therein was registered. As noted by the court “both statutory damages and attorney’s fee and costs are unavailable if “(1) an infringement of copyright in a unpublished work commenced before the effective date of its registration; or (2) any infringement of copyright commenced after first publication of the work and before the effective date of its registration, unless such registration is made within three months after the first publication of the work.” 17 USC section 412.  
The court determined that $30,000 in statutory damages was appropriate given that defendants’ conduct was “willful” within the meaning of 17 USC Section 504. In reaching this result, the court relied on the fact that defendants copied the source code of Getaped’s site, which featured a prominent copyright notice, and continued to use this content after receipt of notice of infringement from Getaped. The Court also awarded plaintiff the actual attorneys fees it incurred in prosecuting the suit under 17 USC section 505.

Download PDF of Court Decision

Pinehurst, Inc. v. Brian Wick, et al.
256 F. Supp. 2d 424 (M.D. N.C., 2003).

Finding that defendant cybersquatters violated both the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (“ACPA”) and the Federal Trademark Dilution Act (“FTDA”), the court directed defendants to transfer to plaintiff domain names containing plaintiff’s famous “Pinehurst” mark, enjoined defendants from further using “Pinehurst” in a domain name, and awarded plaintiff both statutory damages in the amount of $100,000 and attorneys fees.   Plaintiff is the owner of the world famous Pinehurst Golf Resort.  The court found that defendants had registered the domain names in question – and - with a bad faith intent to profit therefrom because, among other things, they had registered over 8000 domain names, many of which contained the trademarks of well-known corporations, golf courses or law firms, had offered, in settlement, to transfer the domain names at issue to plaintiff in exchange for a ‘contribution’ to their legal expenses and had registered additional ‘typo’ domains after the commencement of this suit.  Such a finding also rested on defendants’ stated purpose in registering these and other domains, which was to “mess” with “corporate America,” as well as on the fact that the domains at issue had been registered by an entity named 

In reaching this result, the court rejected defendants’ claim that their conduct was a permissible ‘parody’ of plaintiff’s mark.  Such a defense failed, in part, because the content of defendants’ site – on which was located images of a miniature golf course and a trailer park – was not seen until after the user had already made a decision to enter the site based on the domain names at issue, which did not parody plaintiff or its golf course.  Said the court “A parody must convey two simultaneous and contradictory messages, that it is the original but also that it is not the original and is instead a parody. … Looking at Defendants’ domain names alone, there is no suggestion of a parody. … The domain names convey the first message, that it is the original, but the second message, that it is ‘not the original and that it is a parody, is discovered only by accessing the website and reading through the website’s content.”

The court further held that defendant had violated the FTDA by virtue of having registered the domain names in question, and thereby having prevented plaintiff from using them in commerce.  This reduced the selling power of plaintiff’s famous
”Pinehurst” mark, thereby diluting it.  Said the court:  “Because of the unique nature of domain names in electronic commerce and the resulting economic harm when marks are registered as domain names by cyberpirates, Defendants’ use of Plaintiff’s service marks in their Pinehurst domain names constitutes dilution.”

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