Internet Trademark Case Summaries
Ohio Art Co., Inc. v. Watts
49 U.S.P.Q.2d 1957 (N.D. Ohio 1998)
Defendant promoted its WEB-A-SKETCH website where visitors could draw online using techniques similar to those in plaintiff’s famous ETCH A SKETCH toy. Defendant also used plaintiff’s ETCH A SKETCH trademark in a manner that could be detected by Internet search engines. Before the lawsuit, at plaintiff’s request, defendant’s website included a disclaimer stating that the WEB-A-SKETCH site was not related to plaintiff or its ETCH A SKETCH mark and a statement acknowledging that ETCH A SKETCH was a trademark of plaintiff. Later, defendant posted statements on its website denigrating plaintiff and urging visitors to protest plaintiff’s legal actions by sending e‑mail messages to plaintiff and its attorneys. Plaintiff filed suit alleging trademark infringement, dilution, and unfair competition, and obtained a temporary restraining order. Shortly thereafter, the parties entered into a stipulated consent decree and permanent injunction providing that: (1) defendant diluted the famous ETCH A SKETCH mark, as visitors might think WEB-A-SKETCH was an Internet version of plaintiff’s famous toy; (2) defendant infringed plaintiff’s federally registered trademark by using a confusingly similar mark for its website, enabling visitors to draw under rules similar to those in plaintiff’s toy; (3) defendant engaged in unfair competition when it encouraged visitors to protest the lawsuit by sending e‑mail messages to plaintiff and when it made other statements denigrating plaintiff; and (4) defendant was permanently enjoined from using the WEB-A-SKETCH or ETCH A SKETCH marks or any marks “similar thereto,” and from making disparaging, false, or scandalous remarks about plaintiff regarding the subject matter of the lawsuit.