Coilcraft, Inc. v. Inductor Warehouse, Inc., No. 98 C 0140, 2007 WL 2071991 (N.D. Ill. Jul. 18, 2007) (Cole, J.).

Judge Cole recommended that the Court grant plaintiff’s motion for contempt. The parties previously settled this trademark case and agreed to a consent judgment which required, among other things, that defendants include “prominent” disclaimers on any advertisements, including webpages, offering plaintiff’s products for sale from the secondary market. Plaintiff filed a motion for contempt arguing that defendant’s website did not include prominent disclaimers. The Court agreed, explaining that prominence could be achieved in several ways, but that “fine print” was not one of them:

Being a relational and contextual concept, “prominence” may be achieved in any number of ways: placement of words, type size, typeface, text color, etc. Prominence, however, is not achieved by the use of fine print disclaimers that are substantially smaller than any other print on a page.

Practice tip: When drafting settlement agreements, or other contracts, watch out for subjective words like “prominence.”  If you expect that you may need to enforce the agreement* later, try to define subjective terms in more objective ways. For example, plaintiff in this case could have required that the disclaimer be at the top of each page in bolded font at least four points larger than the largest print on the page.

* If you expect that the agreement might be enforced against you, subjective terms may be beneficial.