Internet Trademark Case Summaries
Jews for Jesus v. Brodsky
993 F. Supp. 282 (D.N.J.), aff’d, 159 F.3d 1351 (3d Cir. 1998)
Plaintiff, an international religious organization and owner of the federally registered trademark JEWS FOR JESUS, operated a website at the domain name “jews-for-jesus.org” on which it promoted the mission and message of its organization. Defendant, a website developer and vocal critic of plaintiff, established a website at the domain name “jewsforjesus.org.” containing a hyperlink to a website sponsored by Outreach Judaism, an organization with views antithetical to those of plaintiff. After receiving a cease-and-desist letter from plaintiff, defendant placed a disclaimer on the website, stating the website reflected only his personal opinions and was not affiliated with either Outreach Judaism or plaintiff. Defendant also registered the domain name “jews-for-jesus.com,” although he never established a website at that domain name. Plaintiff sued for trademark infringement, dilution, and unfair competition, and moved to preliminarily enjoin defendant’s use of the domain name “jewsforjesus.org.” The court granted plaintiff’s motion, finding plaintiff was likely to succeed on the merits of all of its causes of action. With respect to the claim for trademark infringement, the court found confusion was likely and that defendant’s disclaimer did nothing to cure the confusion. Turning to dilution, the court found defendant’s actions amounted to both blurring and tarnishment of plaintiff’s mark. In finding that defendant’s actions constituted commercial use of plaintiff’s mark in commerce, the court compared defendant’s website to the website before the court in Planned Parenthood. Although in this case defendant’s website did not solicit funds directly, the site contained a hyperlink and acted as “a conduit” to the Outreach Judaism site, which was commercial in nature. The court also noted defendant’s public statements that he established his “bogus Jews for Jesus” website, hoping to attract persons interested in plaintiff and “intercept potential converts” and found that defendant’s actions were designed to harm plaintiff commercially by disparaging it and preventing it from promoting its mark and name.