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Internet Trademark Case Summaries

Watts v. Network Solutions, Inc.

202 F.3d 276 (7th Cir. 1999)

Plaintiff owned a gift-marketing company and asserted rights in the mark BIRTHDAY BALLOONS.  Although plaintiff had not yet obtained a federal trademark registration, he claimed that he was the first to use the mark in interstate commerce.  When NSI refused plaintiff’s request to register the domain name “birthdayballoons.com” because another party had already registered it, plaintiff sued NSI for, among other things, contributory-trademark infringement.  Plaintiff alleged that NSI committed contributory infringement by continuing to “supply” the domain name to the existing registrant, in violation of plaintiff’s rights in BIRTHDAY BALLOONS.  Rejecting this argument, the court noted that plaintiff failed to present any evidence that NSI knew that the registrant was engaging in trademark infringement.  In fact, plaintiff failed to prove that the registrant even used the domain name in connection with the sale of any goods or services in interstate commerce.  The court thus affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to NSI.