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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...

The Ohio Art Company, Inc. v. Alan Watts, et al.

No. 98 CV 7338 (N.D. Ohio, June 16, 1998)

Defendant Alan Watts operated a website titled "Web-A-Sketch" at which visitors could make drawings "under rules closely similar to those of the famous 'Etch-A-Sketch' toy." Defendant Watts also deployed the trademark "Etch-A-Sketch" on his site in ways designed to attract to his website those using search engines to find "Etch-A-Sketch." Defendant had posted disclaimers indicating his website was not affiliated with plaintiff or "Etch-A-Sketch."

Plaintiff, owner of the federal trademark "Etch-A-Sketch," commenced suit, charging that defendant Watt's conduct constituted dilution of plaintiff's mark, as well as trademark infringement in violation of the Lanham Act.

The court agreed and, after issuing a temporary restraining order enjoining defendant Watts from utilizing the mark "Web-A-Sketch," issued an order on consent enjoining defendant Watts from using either the "Web-A-Sketch" or "Etch-A-Sketch" marks.

Plaintiff also brought an unfair competition claim against defendant Watts. Watts posted a notice on his site, urging visitors to contact plaintiff and object to their conduct vis-à-vis his site. Approximately 100 users responded by informing plaintiff they would boycott its products. The court held that this constituted denigration of plaintiff without cause in violation of Ohio state law.

Plaintiff's claims against the operator of the hoster which connected the server on which Watt's website was stored to the Internet were dismissed without prejudice.

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