St. Louis Intellectual Property Issues and the Internet

This article first summarizes and distinguishes among seven basic types of intellectual property rights. It then addresses the actions that may constitute violations of each of those rights and the defenses that are typically asserted by one who is alleged to have violated such rights. Finally, the article addresses six practices that are unique to the Internet which challenge these traditional concepts of intellectual property and discusses important judicial decisions that have helped form the new intellectual property law of the Internet with respect to each of these practices. A brief outline of the article appears below.

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I Types of Intellectual Property and Sources of Rights.
A. Patent
B. Trademark
C. Copyright
D. Trade Dress
E. Trade Secret
F. Right of Publicity/Right of Privacy
G. Collections of Information

II Violations of Intellectual Property Rights and Defenses.

A. Patent

1. Violations

a. Infringement

2. Defenses

a. Noninfringement
b. Invalidity

B. Trademark

1. Violations

a. Infringement
b. Dilution
c. False Designation of Origin under §43(a) of the Lanham Act

2. Defenses

a. Fair Use under 15 U.S.C. 1115(b)(4)
b. Freedom of Speech under the First Amendment

C. Copyright

1. Violations

a. Direct Infringement
b. Contributory Infringement
c. Vicarious Infringement
d. Violation of the Prohibitions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

2. Defenses

a. Fair Use under §107 of the Copyright Act
b. Freedom of Speech under the First Amendment.
c. Implied License

D. Trade Dress

1. Violations

a. False Designation of Origin, a/k/a Knocking Off, Palming Off or Passing Off under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act , 15 U.S.C. §1125(a).
b. Unfair Competition
c. Deceptive Trade Practices

2. Defenses

a. Functionality

E. Trade Secret

1. Violations

a. Misappropriation (taking)
b. Use of Misappropriated Trade Secret
c. Unfair Competition

2. Defenses

a. Freedom of Speech under the First Amendment
b. Information is generally known or easily discovered;
c. Owner has failed to treat the information as a trade secret.

F. Right of Publicity

1. Violations

a. Common Law Unfair Competition (Restatement) – appropriation of commercial value of identity by using without consent indicia of identity for purposes of trade without consent resulting in injury.
b. Common Law Tort – Invasion of the Right of Privacy – appropriation of another¹s name or likeness or giving unreasonable publicity to the private life of another.
c. Statutory – misappropriation of identity for commercial purposes. Some statutes require a “knowing” use and/or a direct connection between the use and the commercial purpose.

2. Defenses

a. Freedom of Speech under the First Amendment
b. Claimant is a “public figure” (invasion of privacy only).

G. Collections of Information

1. Violations – breach of contract; trespass to chattels, unfair competition; deceptive trade practice; misappropriation.
2. Defenses – no assent to terms of contract; no trespass to publicly accessible property; grant of implied license; preemption by federal copyright legislation.

III Special Internet Intellectual Property Issues

A. Manipulative Meta Tagging and Cyber Stuffing – The use of another¹s trademark or name in “unviewable” HTML code (provides display instructions to a Web browsing program) or “unviewable” content in order to divert traffic to a Web site.

Cases Discussed
a. Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Calvin Designer Label, 985 F.Supp. 1220 (N.D.Cal. 1997).
b. Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Welles, 7 F. Supp.2d. 1098 (S.D. Cal.), aff¹d 162 F.3d 1169 (9th Cir. 1998).
c. Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Asia Focus International & Internet Promotions, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10459 (E.D. Va. 1998).
d. Brookfield Communications v. West Coast Entertainment, 174 F.3d 1036 (9th Cir. 1999).

B. Banner Ad Linking – Search engine Web site operators “key” or “link” banner ads sponsored by a competing business to be displayed on a search results page to the trademark of another business entered as a search term.

Cases Discussed

a. Playboy Enterprises Inc. v. Netscape Communications Corp., 2000 WL 1308815 (C.D. Cal.).
b. Estee Lauder, Inc. v. Excite, Inc. 99 CV 0382 (SDNY 1999); 189 F.R.D. 269 (S.D.N.Y. 1999).

C. Criticism and Parody Sites – A Web site owner uses the trademark and/or material authored by another in the site¹s URL, meta-tags and/or content for purposes of criticizing and/or lampooning the products, services or works of another. There is no primary commercial purpose although some of the sites carry banner ads.

Cases Discussed

a. Bally Total Fitness Holding Corporation v. Faber, 29 F.Supp.2d 1161 (C.D. Cal 1998).
b. Planned Parenthood v. Bucci, 152 F.3d 920 (2d Cir. 1997).
c. Jews For Jesus v. Brodsky, 159 F.3d 1351 (3d Cir 1998).
d. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. MacLeod, D2000-0662 (WIPO Sept 19,2000).
e. Lockheed Martin Corp. v. Parisi, D2000-1015 (WIPO January 23, 2001).
f. Bloomberg L.P. v. Secaucus Group, FA0104000097077 (NAF June 7, 2001).

D. Linking and Framing – Using Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML) to create a nexus from one Web site to another Web site or an image so that when a particular set of text or icon is “clicked” with the mouse, the user¹s Web browser will display the “linked” Web site or image. Linking is a “one way street.”

Cases Discussed

a. The Washington Post Co. v. Total News, Inc., No. 97 CIV 1190 (S.D.N.Y. 1997).
b. Ticket Master Corp v. Microsoft Corp., No. 2:97CV3055 (S.D.Cal. 1997).
c. Ticketmaster Corp. v. Tickets.com, Inc. 2000 WL 525390 (C.D. Cal.).
d. Bernstein v. J.C. Penney, Inc., 50 U.S.P.Q. 2d 1063 (C.D. Cal. 1998).
e. MP3 Board, Inc. v. Recording Industry Association of America, Inc., 2001 WL 804502 (N.D. Cal 2001).
f. Universal City Studios v. Corley, 273 F.3d 429 (2d Cir. 2001).
g. Intellectual Reserve, Inc. v. Utah Lighthouse Ministry, Inc., 75 F. Supp.2d 1290 (C.D. Utah 1999).

E. Business Methods Patents – obtaining patent protection for a method of conducting business on the Internet. Although the Patent Act does not expressly establish an exception to patentability for methods of conducting business, such an exception has long been recognized by the courts because “abstract ideas are not patentable.” The decision of the Court in State Street bank and Trust Company v. Signature Financial Group, Inc., 149 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1998) expressly acknowledged that methods of doing business are patentable under certain circumstances. Since the date of the Signature decision thousands of Internet-related business method patents have been applied for. This Section discusses some of the patents that have been granted and the implications of business method patents for the future of the Internet.
Cases Discussed
Amazon.com, Inc. v. BarnesandNoble.com, Inc, 57 U.S.P.Q. 1747 (Fed. Cir. 2001).

F. Spidering ­ Information Compilation Sites – the use of software “robot” or “spiders” to “crawl” through a site and extract useful information for purposes of posting or using that information on another site, typically a site that aggregates specific information of the type extracted.

Cases Discussed

a. Ebay, Inc. v. Bidder¹s Edge, Inc., 100 F.Supp.2d 1058 (N.D. Cal. 2000).
b. Pollstar v. Gigamania Ltd., 170 F. Supp.2d 974 (E.D. Cal. 2000).
c. Ticketmaster Corp. v. Tickets.com, Inc., 2000 WL 525390 (C.D. Cal.).
d. Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corp., 77 F. Supp.2d 1116 (C.D. Ca. 1999).
e. Register.com, Inc. v. VERIO, Inc. 126 F. Supp.2d 238 (S.D.N.Y. 2000).
f. E. F. Cultural Travel BV v. Explorica, Inc., 2001 WL 1579620 (1st Cir.)

By: Bernard W. Gerdelman

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