Print PDF

Internet Trademark Case Summaries

SNA, Inc. v. Array

51 F. Supp. 2d 542 (E.D. Pa. 1999) (preliminary injunction), 51 F. Supp. 2d 554 (E.D. Pa. 1999) (trial); 173 F. Supp. 2d 347 (E.D. Pa. 2001) (granting attorney’s fees)

Plaintiffs in these consolidated cases manufactured a do-it-yourself kit for an amphibious aircraft called the SEAWIND.  Defendants helped buyers assemble the aircraft.  The dispute arose when defendants began using the domain name “seawind.net” and metatagging their website with the word “seawind.”  In the first decision, the court issued a preliminary injunction, enjoining defendants’ use of the “seawind.net” domain name.  Even though the content of defendants’ website was “mean-spirited” so that visitors to the site would not likely believe that it was an SNA-sponsored or approved website, “the initial confusion of drawing the viewer to the site is the relevant confusion.”  In the second decision, after a bench trial, the court permanently enjoined defendants from using the “seawind.net” domain name and from using “seawind” as a metatag.  In contrast to the Playboy v. Welles case where the court found that a former Playboy Playmate lawfully used Playboy’s trademarks as metatags to index the content of her website, the defendants here “inten[ded] to harm plaintiffs” by using “plaintiff’s mark . . . to lure Internet users to their site instead of [plaintiffs’] official site.”

On November 5, 2001, the court granted plaintiff’s motion for attorney’s fees.  It held that defendant’s “bad faith effort to confuse Internet users” made the case exceptional within the meaning of the Lanham Act.  Defendant argued that an award of attorney’s fees required a showing of both culpable conduct and pecuniary loss, but the court pointed to Third Circuit precedent that affirmed a district court’s award of attorney’s fees even though the prevailing party suffered no monetary damages.  The court awarded plaintiff $213,341.50 in attorney’s fees and $81,792.39 in costs.