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Internet Trademark Case Summaries

Hotmail Corp. v. Van$ Money Pie Inc.

47 U.S.P.Q.2d 1020 (N.D. Cal. 1998)

Plaintiff Hotmail, a provider of free e‑mail addresses and owner of the mark HOTMAIL and the domain name “hotmail.com,” sued defendants for false designation of origin, trademark infringement, and trademark dilution arising from defendants’ use of plaintiff’s “hotmail.com” domain name in falsified return e‑mail addresses.  Specifically, the defendants sent spam e‑mail messages advertising pornographic material, each containing return addresses bearing Hotmail account return addresses, when in fact the messages did not originate from Hotmail or a Hotmail account.  Hotmail’s service-provider agreement specifically prohibited the sending of spam mail.  Finding Hotmail likely to succeed on the merits of its claims, the court granted its motion for preliminary injunction and prohibited defendants from engaging in spamming activities and from using plaintiff’s HOTMAIL mark and “hotmail.com” domain name in any manner.