April 05, 2005

Freedom of speech through domain names

Squarely rejecting trademark infringement and dilution claims, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today held that citizens who use a trademark as the domain name for a noncommercial consumer criticism site about the trademarked goods do not violate the trademark laws.
The case involved a pair of web sites at bosleymedical.com and bosleymedicalviolations.com. The Court of Appeals held that both trademark infringement and trademark dilution claims can proceed only when the defendant is using the trademark in connection with the sale of goods and services, and an Internet web site, even if it criticizes those goods and services, is simply not the sort of commercial use to which the Lanham Act is directed.

See also Eric's opinion and Michael's.
UPDATE [April 4]: M. Schwimmer reminds us that there has been a UDRP decision in this case

Bosley Medical Institute v. Kremer, No. 04-55962 (April 4, 2005) [Thanks Benoît].

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