Internet Trademark Case Summaries
Online Partners, Inc. v. AtlanticNet Media Corp.
2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 783 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 20, 2000)
Plaintiff used the federally registered trademark GAY.NET for information and educational services pertaining to the gay community since 1994 and operated a website located at “www.gay.net” since 1996. In 1998, defendant started operating a website located at “www.gaynet.com,” which also provided informational services to the gay community. Plaintiff sued defendant for trademark infringement, dilution, and unfair competition. Defendant failed to answer or otherwise appear, and the court entered a final default judgment in favor of plaintiff. After finding that plaintiff’s GAY.NET mark was famous within the gay community, the court held that defendant’s “gaynet.com” website was likely to cause confusion with plaintiff’s “gay.net” mark and diluted that mark through blurring and tarnishment by displaying pornographic images on its site. The court also held that defendant’s unauthorized use of “gaynet.com” unjustly enriched defendant, and the court exercised an equitable lien over defendant’s “gaynet.com” domain name, finding the domain name to be the type of property subject to attachment by the court. The remedies granted by the court included: (1) a permanent injunction enjoining defendant from using the domain name “gaynet.com,” the term “gaynet,” or any other confusingly similar or dilutive terms; (2) transfer of the “gaynet.com” domain name to plaintiff; (3) destruction or deletion of all materials and website copy and images bearing the offending names; (4) requiring defendant to immediately request in writing or by e-mail that publishers of all directories, lists, banner ads, or search engines in which the “gaynet.com” domain name or “gaynet” name appears in reference to defendant, delete all such references, and that all publications and websites cancel or delete any such references, hyperlinks, or metatags; and (5) awarding plaintiff its reasonable attorney’s fees because the case was “exceptional.”