Court Finds Trademarked Words Can Be Used To Describe Property’s History

On July 14, 2017, the Eastern District of Kentucky found that the use of trademarked words to describe a property’s history is not trademark use.

In 2014, Peristyle, LLC purchased the abandoned Old Taylor Distillery in Millville, Kentucky, hoping to exploit its unique history.  The distillery was built in 1887 by Colonel Edmund H. Taylor, considered by many to be the father of the modern bourbon industry.  Peristyle renamed the property “Castle & Key,” intending to do all its whiskey-related business under that name; nevertheless, a historic sign at the property’s entrance reads “The Old Taylor Distillery Company,” and throughout the renovation period, Peristyle and the media often referred to the location as “the former Old Taylor Distillery” or simply “Old Taylor.” Continue reading

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Court Says Jury’s Award of Profits Justified by Costco’s Business Model

On August 14, 2017, the Southern District of New York determined that Costco Wholesale Corp. owed Tiffany and Co. over $19 million in damages for trademark infringement.

The case arose out of Costco’s marketing and display of non-Tiffany-brand solitaire diamond rings proximate to signage reading “Platinum Tiffany” and “Round Diamond Ring,” or “Platinum Tiffany” and “Round Brilliant Solitaire Ring.”  On September 8, 2015, the court granted Tiffany summary judgement, holding Costco liable for trademark infringement and trademark counterfeiting.  A jury trial was subsequently held on Tiffany’s claim seeking damages, including profits, and statutory and punitive damages.  The jury estimated Costco’s profits dating back to 2007 to be $3.7 million, but finding that sum inadequate to compensate Tiffany, added a further $1.8 million to the award.  In addition, the jury awarded Tiffany $2 million in statutory damages and $8.25 million in punitive damages.  Continue reading

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District Court Rules that Startup Can Use Web Scrapers to Collect Information from Public LinkedIn Profiles, Despite Protests for LinkedIn

On August 14, 2017, on a motion for preliminary injunction, the District Court for the Northern District of California held that LinkedIn, a social network owned by Microsoft, Inc., could not continue to block hiQ, a data analytic startup, from accessing information from public LinkedIn profiles using web scrapers.  hiQ Labs, Inc. v. LinkedIn Corp., 3:17-CV-03301-EMC, slip op. at 1 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 14, 2017).  This decision casts doubt on the earlier case law, which has held that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) protects website owners against third party web scrapers if such scrapers are accessing public data not protected by an authorization gateway such as passwords.  Accordingly, this decision has the potential to change the legal landscape regarding the use of web scrapers or bots to collect information on websites; the interpretation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and analogous state statutes; and how websites control or limit access to content they have collected from users.

In hiQ Labs, Inc. v. LinkedIn Corp., the court granted a preliminary injunction in favor of hiQ to prohibit LinkedIn from employing electronic blocking techniques designed to preven hiQ from scraping information from public LinkedIn profiles.  See id. at 1.   The court’s decision stands in direct contrast to earlier decisions in cases such as, Craigslist Inc. v. 3Taps Inc., 2013 WL 4447520 (N.D. Cal. August 16, 2013), which have decided against the interests of web scrapers.   Continue reading

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