Thursday, April 21, 2011

Traverse Internet Law Federal Court Report: April 2011 - Trademark Infringement Lawsuits

The facts are unproven allegations of the Plaintiff and all commentary is based upon the allegations, the truthfulness and accuracy of which are likely in dispute.

FILED: 03/28/2011

This case is a perfect example of a business getting a trademark in what appears to be a generic term and then using it to enforce exclusive rights to that common term across the entire industry. “Freight quote” is the term that anyone looking to get a quote for shipping freight would often enter into the search function of a search engine. The potential customer is not searching for a particular business but a general solution for its generic search request. However, trademarks have been issued by the USPTO, as this case exhibits, which vest ownership of such a generic term with one company within an industry. This lawsuit will likely precipitate a challenge to the trademark registration itself if the registration is not older than 5 years. From a practical standpoint, there is little chance you will know about the existence of a trademark when using generic or inherently descriptive terms online, but if you ignore a “cease and desist” you can get sued.

Freightquote provides freight shipping and management services. The Defendants are various competitors using the term “freightquote”, which the Plaintiff claims is protected by trademark. alleges unfair competition and false designation or origin, trademark infringement, violation of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, common law trademark infringement, and violation of the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The prayer for relief includes requests for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, actual damages, statutory damages, transfer of the infringing domain names, compensatory damages, and other such relief the Court deems just. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1480.

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