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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...

Parody - Internet Library of Law and Court Decisions - Updated June 21, 2007

2001 WL 1035140 (S.D.N.Y. September 19, 2001)

In this domain name dispute, Court grants Mattel, the holder of numerous trademarks in and including the word "Barbie," summary judgment, holding that defendant violated the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act ("ACPA") by registering the domain names "" and "," causing those who accessed such domains to view a commercial web site selling women's apparel operated by the defendant, and effectuating a single $10 sale of merchandise to an investigator hired by plaintiff who accessed one of the domains in question. The court ordered defendant to relinquish the domain names at issue, and to pay Mattel $2000 in damages. The court declined to award Mattel its attorneys' fees.

263 F.3d 359, No. 00-1918 (4th Cir., August 23, 2001)

The Fourth Circuit, affirming the decision of the district court below, held that defendant was guilty of service mark infringement and unfair competition, and had violated the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act ("ACPA"), as a result of his creation and operation of a web site at the domain, which contained plaintiff's federally registered service mark "peta." In reaching this conclusion, the Fourth Circuit rejected defendant's defense that his site, titled "People Eating Tasty Animals," was a parody of plaintiff's "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals" organization because the domain name containing plaintiff's mark did not appear simultaneously with that aspect of the web site containing the parody of plaintiff's organization.

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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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