Defendant, a Mexican corporation that sells internet-based educational computing services to private schools in Mexico, promoted its services at its “escolastica.com” and “escolastica.net.” websites. Teachers and students communicate and teachers post homework assignments and test results via defendant’s password-protected websites. Plaintiff, a leading seller of educational materials in the U.S., operates under the mark and name SCHOLASTIC and promotes similar services at its “scholastic.com” website. Plaintiff filed an in rem proceeding trademark infringement, dilution, and cybersquatting. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendant finding that consumers were not likely to be confused by the domain names.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed, noting that plaintiff submitted no proof of actual confusion, the difference between “escolastica” and “scholastic” rendered confusion unlikely, and there were also “substantial differences” between the parties’ websites. In particular, defendant’s site is accessible only by password and written entirely in Spanish, while plaintiff’s does not require a password and the majority of text is in English. In short, the Fourth Circuit “agree[d] with the district court that no ordinary consumer is likely to stumble upon [defendant’s] websites while searching for “scholastic.com” or, even if they happen to do so, to believe that they have accessed a website affiliated with [plaintiff].”