Salu, Inc. v. Original Skin Store, Slip Copy, 2010 WL 1444617 (E.D.Cal. April 12, 2010)
This is kind of a wonky trademark/domain name case. So if that’s not in your wheelhouse, don’t strain yourself.
Plaintiff sued defendant for infringement of plaintiff’s registered trademark. Defendant moved for summary judgment, claiming that the asserted trademark registration was obtained by fraud on the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Specifically, defendant argued that plaintiff misrepresented when it told the USPTO that its SKINSTORE mark had “acquired distinctiveness” (i.e., was not merely descriptive of the goods and servcies) by means of “substantially exclusive” use in commerce.
The court denied the motion for summary judgment.
Defendant had argued that plaintiff committed fraud by saying its use was exclusive. It pointed to a case under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) that the plaintiff had brought against the user of the domain name eskinstore.com. The WIPO panel in that case refused to find a clear case of cybersquatting.
In this case, defendant argued that plaintiff’s earlier unsuccessful UDRP challenge to a similar mark showed there were third parties using the mark and therefore the claim of exclusivity was fraudulent.
The court rejected this argument, noting that the plaintiff had undertaken significant efforts to protect its exclusive rights in the trademark. (It had sent out an astounding 300 cease and desist letters in the past couple of years alone!)
Moreover, and more importantly, the court noted that the WIPO panel hearing the UDRP complaint specifically declined to determine cybersquatting had occurred, finding it to be a question of infringement better addressed by the United States courts.