Technology & Marketing Law Blog

I am a little late to this story, but before Thanksgiving the new e-Justice Blog published a list of the top 50 internet and digital law blogs — click here for the list. I am honored that this blog made the e-Justice list, especially when you look at the other blogs on the list. Here are some of the blogs, listed by e-Justice’s categories:
Academic Blogs
Berkman Center for Internet and Society
Stanford Center for Internet and Society
Law Blog (John Marshall’s own Prof. Sorkin)
Eric Goldman’s Technology & Marketing Law Blog
Copyright, Intellectual Property and Defamation
The Trademark Blog
Internet Law – Copyright Law
New Media and Digital Law
New Media and Technology Law Blog (another LexBlog creation)
Silicon Valley Media Law Blog
Firms & Lawyers
Technology, eBusiness and Digital Media Law Blog (another LexBlog creation)
Internet Law Attorney Blog
Ernie the Attorney
Internet Cases
News and Business
Gahtan’s Technology and Internet Law Blog
Technology and Marketing Law Blog

Continue Reading Top 50 Internet & Digital Law Blogs

On Wednesday, August 13 at noon CT, I am giving a teleseminar with Evan Brown (a fellow Chicagoan who writes the insightful Internet Cases blog) and Professor Eric Goldman (who writes the excellent Technology & Marketing Law Blog) discussing the current state of the Communication Decency Act’s Good Samaritan clause. The seminar will focus on, among other things, the Roommates decision in the Ninth Circuit — click here for Goldman’s posts on the case — and the Craigslist decision from the Seventh Circuit (upholding a Judge St. Eve opinion) — click here for the Blog’s posts about that case and here for Brown’s posts.
Click here for ALI-ABA’s web brochure about the seminar. It promises to be an interesting discussion with lively debate. And ALI-ABA has generously offered a $30 discount off of the seminar’s $149 cost for Blog readers that use this code: TSPV02DD.

Continue Reading Communications Decency Act Seminar

e360Insight, LLC v. Comcast Corp., No. 08 C 340, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Apr. 10, 2008) (Zagel, J.).
Judge Zagel granted defendant Comcast judgment on the pleadings, dismissing plaintiff e360Insight’s (“e360”) Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, First Amendment, and related state law claims. e360, an Internet marketer and accused email spammer, alleged that Comcast harmed e360 by unjustifiably blocking all or most of e360’s emails from Comcast’s customer email accounts. Comcast stopped e360’s emails with filtering software that identified and stopped emails from e360 addresses.
Comcast argued that the Good Samaritan clause of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(2), provided Comcast absolute immunity from e360’s claims because Comcast voluntarily filtered e360’s emails to restrict access to what Comcast believed was objectionable content. The Court held that the Good Samaritan clause provided absolute immunity for ISPs that filtered for objectionable material. The Court also held that Judge St. Eve’s and the Seventh Circuit’s recent Chicago Lawyers’ Committee v. Craigslist opinions – click here for more on those cases – were not applicable. Those opinions limited the clause’s protection for ISPs that chose not to filter. Because Comcast filtered, it enjoyed absolute protection. The Court also held that e360’s compliance with Congress’s spam prevention laws, 15 U.S.C. §§ 7701-13 (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (“CAN-SPAM”) was irrelevant. Regardless of compliance with CAN-SPAM, the Good Samaritan clause still allowed the ISP to make a good faith judgment that e360’s emails were objectionable. And e360 did not sufficiently plead Comcast’s lack of good faith in determining that the emails were objectionable.
Eric Goldman at the Technology & Marketing Law Blog has a good post on this case and several other district court cases considering § 230(c) defenses. – click here for his post.

Continue Reading Section 230 Gives Filtering ISPs Absolute Immunity

Tomorrow I will be back to case analysis, but there is some Northern District news and some excellent IP and litigation blog posts worth reading, here they are:
Ninth Annual Pro Bono and Public Interest Awards — The Northern District and the Federal Bar Association are seeking nominations for excellence in pro bono and public interest work. Nominations should be based upon work performed in civil cases before the Northern District which are no longer pending. Send nominations by March 28 to:
Amy Rettberg, Executive Law Clerk
Chambers of the Chief Judge James F. Holderman
219 South Dearborn Street, Suite 2548
Chicago, Illinois 60604
Patent Reform is Moving Forward — The Senate is preparing to vote on the Patent Reform Act after its spring recess (yes, it is spring already in DC). Here is some additional coverage of the Act’s status:
271 Patent Blog — looking at the latest amendments to the Act.
Maryland Intellectual Property Blog — looking at the latest amendments and questioning whether proponents have the sixty votes necessary for cloture, thereby avoiding a filibuster.
Patent Docs — taking sides, but asking you to call your Senators regardless of which side you take.
Check out the newest entry to Chicago’s law blog scene, the Lean & Mean Litigation Blog. It is not IP-focused, but it is an interesting read for any commercial litigator or litigant.
William Patry at Patry on Copyright has an interesting post about the difficulties of serving corporate entities based upon a District of the District of Columbia case involving a pro se plaintiff. The best advice, of course, is to hire counsel because if you do not get the party served properly, you have no case.
The Seventh Circuit affirmed Judge St. Eve’s ground breaking opinion in the CLC v. Craigslist case. The Seventh Circuit held that an ISP is exempt from cases based upon user content when the case attempts to treat the ISP as a publisher of the content. This is considerably narrower than most of the other circuits, which have held that Section 230 exempts ISPs from essentially all suits based upon user content. For more coverage, check out the WSJ Law Blog (which erroneously elevates Judge St. Eve to the Seventh Circuit), Internet Cases, and the Technology & Marketing Law Blog (very detailed analysis of Judge Easterbrook’s opinion).

Continue Reading Northern District & IP News: Pro Bono & Patent Reform

Central Mfg.., Inc. v. George Brett, __ F.3d __, Slip Op. (7th Cir. Jul. 9, 2007).
The Seventh Circuit upheld Judge Coar’s cancellation of plaintiff’s “Stealth” mark for use with baseball bats. The result is not that surprising in light of the fact that plaintiff had not been able to provide any evidence that it used the Stealth mark for baseball bats prior to defendant, and Hall of Famer, George Brett’s and his company Brett Brothers Sports International’s first sale of a Stealth bat in 1999 (plaintiff filed a mark application for Stealth in connection with baseball bats in 2001). Additionally, according to the Seventh Circuit plaintiff is controlled by Leo Stoller who is, according to the Seventh Circuit, a “hyperactive trademark litigator.” The Seventh Circuit also discussed the frivolous nature of most of Stoller’s cases:
In fact, Stoller’s cases have generally proven so frivolous and wasteful of court resources that since this appeal was filed the Northern District of Illinois has enjoined him or any of his companies from filing any new civil action in the district’s courts without first obtaining the court’s permission.
Stoller has appealed the Executive Committee’s injunction, and the Executive Committee has already denied Stoller’s first request to file a new case in the Northern District.
But the result is not what is most interesting about the Seventh Circuit’s opinion.** What is most interesting, is that the opinion is written in a manner that makes it sufficiently interesting and understandable for non-lawyers to read. First, it starts with a two page discussion of George Brett’s famous “Pine Tar Incident,” in which a Brett home run that was the go-ahead run for his Kansas City Royals was canceled and the game lost for the Royals when Yankees manager Billy Martin pointed out to the umpire that Brett’s bat had pine tar extending more than 18 inches, against Major League Baseball’s rules. The Seventh Circuit even cites YouTube clips (which have since been removed at the MLB’s request) of broadcasts of the game. And at page 13 of the opinion, the Seventh Circuit takes the rare, bold step of using an exclamation point in explaining that Central’s actions in filing suit were “oppressive” and, therefore, warranted awarding attorneys fees and costs:
Central’s actions qualify on all counts!
I am generally not a fan of the exclamation point in legal writing, but used in moderation it can be both effective and powerful. And it creates an informality that makes the opinion more accessible to those without legal training, which Blog readers know I think is very important.
* You can read a copy of the opinion here and more about plaintiff’s other Northern District cases in the Blog’s archives.
** You can read more about the substance of the case and the baseball connection (including the fact that MLB took had the YouTube clips cited by the Seventh Circuit taken down) at the FileWrapper, the TTABlog, the Technology Law Update, and the Technology & Marketing Law Blog.

Continue Reading Strike Two for Plaintiff’s “Stealth” Mark, But a Home Run for Readable Opinions

The Chicago Tribune ran a story on the front page of Wednesday’s Business section about the use of trademarks in keyword internet advertising: Trademark Battlefield. The story discussed various efforts to stop internet search engines (like those offered by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft) from selling trademarked terms as search keywords. For example, the story suggested that State Farm, an insurance company, may have purchased the name of its chief competitor, Allstate, from Google. As a result, if you google “Allstate” Allstate’s websites will come up first in the search results, but in the upper right corner of the search results page, you will see a State Farm add.
The story also discussed comments from a Google trademark lawyer, Rose Hagan, during a standing-room-only panel at the International Trademark Association’s (“INTA”) meeting on Monday, which was held in Chicago. Hagan said that Google sells advertising space, not trademarks. The story also notes that Utah has passed a law which prohibited the use of a competitor’s trademarks as advertising keywords. For more on the Utah law, check out Eric Goldman’s Technology & Marketing Law Blog. The Utah law and the various lawsuits against Google, Yahoo and Microsoft on this issue are all evidence that this is a very unsettled area of trademark law. A Yahoo attorney, Laura Hauck Covington, explained that “[w]e’re all trying to find the right, reasonable balance for the owners of trademarks, consumers and advertisers.”

Continue Reading Keyword Advertising Discussed at INTA