Friday, November 21, 2008

Jones Day Winning and Losing in Trademark Dust-up

There has been so much written about the Jones Day trademark infringement lawsuit against BlockShopper that for me to add to the commentary would simply be piling on. According to the lawsuit, is in the business of "gathering and publishing details of private residential real estate transactions." (Presumably, what this really meant is transactions between individuals, since virtually all real estate transactions, even residential ones, are matters of public record.)

BlockShopper apparently included among its transaction listings purchases made by two Jones Day attorneys, and in those two listings linked back to the Jones Day website and included photo images of the two attorneys that the complaint says "are identical to the photographs which appear on the Jones Day web site." BlockShopper's use of the Jones Day marks in its posts, the links back to the Jones Day website, and the use of the two attorney photographs are alleged to "create the false impression that Jones Day is affiliated with and/or approves, sponsors or endorses" BlockShopper's business.

The blogosphere is predictably apoplectic over what is widely viewed as an ill-reasoned, over-aggressive attack by the large law firm against a relatively defenseless adversary. I have not seen any descriptions of the suit that take the position that it was a good idea; you can decide for yourself. Read the amended complaint; and see what SEOmozBlog, CL&P Blog, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Citizen Media Law Project, and TechDirt have to say.

[Update: Here's another good discussion from the Technology and Marketing Law Blog.]

Say what you will about the merits. If the case stands for anything, it serves as a reminder that when Big sues Little, Big should be prepared to fight both in and out of court. While Jones Day may have prevailed to date in Federal court, it's clearly taking a beating in the court of public opinion.

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