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Internet Trademark Case Summaries

Rescuecom Corp. v. Computer Troubleshooters USA, Inc.

464 F. Supp. 2d 1263 (N.D. Ga. 2005)

Plaintiff and defendant both sold franchises to computer service and repair companies, and both companies operated websites to attract potential customers and franchisees.  Defendant’s marketing included purchasing the keyword “rescuecom” from Google such that a “sponsored link” for defendant appeared after a user of the search engine entered the term “rescuecom.”  Defendant’s “sponsored link” did not include plaintiff’s name.  Plaintiff sued for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, and dilution.  Defendant filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that it did not use plaintiff’s mark.  The court cited GEICO v. Google and Google v. American Blind to establish that granting a motion to dismiss is inappropriate where the determination of the alleged infringement, as in this case, would turn on factual findings.  The court further noted that the question of whether use of a trademark by a search engine to produce paid advertisements was still an “open question” in the Eleventh Circuit.  Accordingly, because the facts of this case involved a “novel legal question” that would “not seamlessly mesh with traditional Lanham analysis,” the court determined that it would be “prudent to make its ruling on a complete factual record.”  The court thus denied defendant’s motion to dismiss.