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The "Initial Interest Confusion" Test - Analysis and Proposal for a Sensible Formulation for Use on the Internet

Introduction

The Internet facilitates online commerce and provides a wealth of information to consumers by allowing users to search for a product or brand and to receive results, suggestions, and advertisements.  Internet consumers using search engines are familiar with search-based advertising, where advertisements appear next to search results.  Google provides an advertising service, AdWords.[i] AdWords allows advertisers to bid on search terms, called keywords, and then Google links those keywords to the advertiser’s advertisements or hyperlinks.[ii] When an Internet consumer searches for the keyword the advertiser purchased, the sponsored link or advertisement is triggered and appears either above or to the right of the organic search results.[iii]  Other search engines including Netscape and Excite use programs similar to Google AdWords to allow advertisers to either bid for or purchase specific search terms.[iv]

During the first half of 2010, U.S. Internet advertising revenue broke a new half-year record with U.S. Internet advertisers spending $12.1 billion.[v]  The average American spends more than sixty hours a month online and 55% of American adults use the Internet daily.[vi] With increasing Internet advertising and use, the possibility of consumer confusion exists on the Internet.  Advertisers can buy keywords related to their line of business, which may include buying a competitor’s trademark.  For example, if Advertiser A buys Competitor B’s trademark as a keyword, then an Internet search for Competitor B’s product will trigger Advertiser A’s ads in a list of sponsored links along the search results.  This example presents a possibility of consumer confusion on the Internet.[vii]  One way to alleviate Internet consumer confusion is through the court’s regulation of trademarks in metatags, domain names, and keyword-sponsored advertising and the adoption of the initial interest doctrine.[viii]

I.  Background Information

The Lanham Act of 1946 federally regulates trademarks by creating a registration system for marks used in U.S. commerce and providing causes of action for the infringement of both registered and unregistered marks.[ix] Under the Lanham Act, a trademark is “any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof . . . to identify and distinguish his or her goods, including a unique product, from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods.”[x] Trademark law serves two primary purposes:  (1) to protect the trademark owner’s private interests of the resources and efforts invested into establishing trademarks and (2) to protect the public by reducing the likelihood of consumer confusion by prohibiting misleading trademark practices.[xi]

Section 43 of the Lanham Act defines trademark infringement of unregistered trademarks, which is a cause of action allowing trademark owners the right to bring a civil suit against anyone who “uses” another’s trademark “in commerce” when such use is likely to confuse or deceive consumers in advertising or promotion.[xii] Section 32 of the Lanham Act is the provision for trademark infringement of a registered trademark.[xiii] Although the Lanham Act provides for protection against infringement of both registered and unregistered marks, courts and litigants tend to look to Section 43, which also protects unfair methods of competition, e.g. false designation of origin, sponsorship, or approval.[xiv]  Courts interpret both Section 32 and Section 43 to require a plaintiff to establish three elements for a successful trademark infringement action.[xv] First, the plaintiff shows a valid trademark entitled to protection under the Lanham Act.[xvi] Second, the plaintiff shows the defendant used the plaintiff’s mark or a similar mark in commerce.[xvii] Third, the plaintiff must prove the defendant’s use will create a likelihood of confusion.[xviii]

A.  Use in Commerce

At issue in many online trademark infringement cases is the second element of the infringement analysis, use in commerce.[xix] The Lanham Act defines “use in commerce” as the bona fide use of a mark either on goods or services.[xx] In the offline context, selling a product with another’s trademark affixed to the carton is an example of sufficient use in commerce.[xxi]  In the online context without tangible products to affix trademarks to, courts have had to determine Internet-specific issues such as whether domain names including competitor trademarks or using metatags of a competitor’s trademark constitute sufficient use in commerce.[xxii] With the rise in search-based advertising,[xxiii] the most recent issue with online use in commerce is buying and selling trademarks as keywords.  In Rescuecom Corp v. Google Inc., the Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that buying another’s trademark through Google’s advertising service AdWords constitutes use in commerce.[xxiv] Rescuecom aligned the Second Circuit with the majority of other circuits finding that a defendant’s use of plaintiff’s trademarks to trigger keyword advertising is sufficient use in commerce.[xxv]

B.  Likelihood of Confusion

The final element, likelihood of consumer confusion, forms the crux of most trademark infringement claims.[xxvi] Courts employ a multifactor test to determine the likelihood of confusion by applying a version of the eight factors established by the Ninth Circuit in AMF, Inc. v. Sleekcraft Boats:

(1) similarity of the conflicting marks; (2) proximity of the two companies’ products or services; (3) strength of the plaintiff’s mark; (4) marketing channels used by the two companies; (5) degree of care likely to be exercised by purchasers in selecting goods; (6) defendant’s intent when selecting the mark; (7) evidence of actual consumer confusion; and (8) likelihood of expansion of product lines.[xxvii]

The multifactor test is flexible and other circuits may apply fewer or more factors.[xxviii] Whatever factors a court employs, the ultimate test focuses on whether defendant’s use is likely to confuse or deceive customers into thinking there is some sponsorship between the trademark owner and the infringing mark.[xxix]

Usually courts determine likelihood of confusion at the time the consumer makes the purchase.  However, sometimes circumstances arise where the consumer is actually confused before making the purchase.  For example, an Internet consumer may only be confused into visiting a website, not into actually purchasing a product.  A consumer could click on an ad triggered by a keyword containing the competitor’s trademark.  Since the traditional likelihood of confusion standard does not translate well to such keyword cases, some courts have turned to initial interest confusion.

II.  Initial Interest Confusion

A.  Introduction to Initial Interest Confusion

Initial interest confusion is the temporary, pre-sale confusion that occurs when a consumer is drawn to a product believing it to be affiliated with another company because the product somehow evokes that company’s trademark.[xxx]   Initial interest confusion is a judicially created doctrine applied where a product generates initial customer interest by using another’s trademark, even if the customer never actually buys the infringing product.[xxxi] Courts applying initial interest confusion can hold defendants liable based on an unfair “bait-and-switch theory” for practices that “affect the buying decisions of consumers in the market for the goods, effectively allowing the competitor to get its foot in the door by confusing consumers.”[xxxii]

The Second Circuit first developed initial interest confusion in 1975 in Grotrian v. Steinway & Sons after finding the traditional likelihood of confusion analysis insufficient to hold the culpable defendants liable.[xxxiii] In Grotrian, a German corporation sold pianos under the trade name “Grotrian-Steinweg” which competed with the well-known piano manufacturer Steinway & Sons.[xxxiv] The district court applied the traditional likelihood of confusion test with special focus on the “degree of likely consumer care” factor.[xxxv] Although expensive piano consumers have a high sophistication level, this sophistication did not eliminate the possibility of consumer confusion between the similar marks.[xxxvi] The court coined the initial interest confusion theory by noting that a potential Steinway buyer might initially be misled to the less expensive Grotrian-Steinweg, which injures Steinway.[xxxvii] The issue was “not the possibility that a purchaser would buy a Grotrian-Steinweg thinking it was actually a Steinway, but rather that, by virtue of “initial confusion,” the “‘Grotrian-Steinweg’ name … would attract potential customers based on the reputation built up by Steinway in this country for many years.”[xxxviii]  The consumer’s confusion occurred before the purchase when a consumer would initially afford Grotrian-Steinweg pianos positive credibility because of the consumer’s mental association with the Steinway & Sons mark, regardless of whether the consumer actually purchased a Grotrian-Steinweg piano or not.[xxxix]  Therefore, the Second Circuit found the absence of point-of-sale confusion was irrelevant because harm resulted from the initial interest confusion.[xl]

The Second Circuit used the same rationale twelve years later in Mobil Oil Corp. v. Pegasus Petroleum Corp., holding defendant’s “Pegasus Petroleum” name for an oil trading company infringed on plaintiff’s trademarked flying horse logo.[xli] There was a likelihood of confusion “not in the fact that a third party would do business with Pegasus Petroleum believing it was related to Mobil, but rather in the likelihood that Pegasus Petroleum would gain crucial credibility during the initial phases of a deal.”[xlii]

Since Grotrian and Mobil, other circuits have applied initial interest confusion to trademark infringement cases.[xliii] With the rise of the Internet, courts also apply initial interest confusion in the online context.[xliv]  The landmark case on online initial interest confusion is Brookfield Communications, Inc. v. West Coast Entertainment Corp.[xlv] Plaintiff Brookfield Communications offered an Internet software database of the entertainment industry using the trademark “MovieBuff.”[xlvi]  Brookfield claimed trademark infringement against defendant West Coast’s use of the domain name “moviebuff.com” and the term “MovieBuff’ in metatags for its own entertainment industry database.[xlvii] Metatags are lines of code in a website’s Hyper Text Mark-Up Language (HTML) invisible to the internet user that older search engine technologies used to compile and order search results lists.[xlviii]  The Ninth Circuit held for Brookfield, finding initial interest confusion is likely to result from West Coast Entertainment’s metatag use.[xlix] Internet users searching for Brookfield’s MovieBuff product may discover West Coast’s website and, finding a free database similar to Brookfield’s product, the user may “simply decide to utilize West Coast’s offerings instead.”[l] This is actionable initial interest confusion “in the sense that, by using ‘moviebuff.com’ or ‘MovieBuff’ to divert people looking for ‘MovieBuff’ to its website, West Coast improperly benefits from the goodwill that Brookfield developed in its mark.”[li]

B.  Criticism and Proposal for Courts Applying Initial Interest Confusion

Brookfieldwas a controversial decision that has been criticized by scholars and judges.[lii] In reaching its conclusion, the Ninth Circuit did not employ the eight-factor Sleekcraft test.[liii] Instead, the court stated “the traditional eight-factor test is not well-suited for analyzing the metatags issue,” then considered only whether the metatags caused initial interest confusion.[liv] This departure from the likelihood of confusion test sparked criticism over whether initial interest confusion is a viable theory to find trademark infringement liability.[lv]

Another criticism is that unlike the earlier offline cases ofGrotrian and Mobil involving both the presence of confusion and the misappropriation of goodwill in famous marks[lvi], Brookfield found initial interest confusion merely on the potential that West Coast might receive some benefit from Brookfield’s mark.[lvii] Another common criticism of initial interest confusion is there is no real economic justification for its application, especially online where there is only a de minimis cost to consumers to click back and forth between websites.[lviii] However, because the internet affords a plethora of advertising techniques ranging from metatags to keyword advertising, the online consumer may actually be confused more often than the offline consumer.[lix] Furthermore, Rescuecom shows that with courts in agreement that using trademarks in these contexts is actionable trademark use, infringement claims will survive summary judgment, urging some standard of uniformity among courts applying initial interest confusion.[lx]

In response to this criticism, the Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth Circuits have recognized online initial interest confusion.[lxi] Just as courts apply different variations of the likelihood of consumer confusion tests,[lxii] courts are also applying different variations of initial interest confusion analysis.[lxiii]  Circuit courts and district courts within these circuits are even applying different variations of initial interest confusion.[lxiv] This paper organizes the conundrum of initial interest confusion by three different approaches used by the courts:  (1) Engaging in the entire traditional likelihood of confusion analysis and then considering initial interest confusion as a separate factor, (2) Only considering initial interest confusion or giving undue weight to diversion, and (3) Analyzing initial interest confusion within the “evidence of actual confusion” factor or “customer care” factor.

1.  Courts analyzing initial interest confusion separately before or after the traditional likelihood of confusion test

Courts in the Second, Third, Sixth and Ninth Circuits analyze initial interest confusion separately from the traditional likelihood of confusion analysis.[lxv]  These courts either assess initial interest confusion before or after the traditional likelihood of confusion factors.  In the Second Circuit, Savin Corp. v. The Savin Group involved a domain name dispute.[lxvi]  The Polaroid factors are the eight factors that the Second Circuit applies to determine whether there is a likelihood of confusion in a trademark infringement case.[lxvii]  The Savin court considered initial interest confusion separately after the Polaroid analysis because it “does not fall neatly under any of the Polaroid factors.”[lxviii]  The Savin court relied on precedent in Bihari v. Gross, which required a showing of intentional deception before finding initial interest confusion.[lxix]  Because the plaintiff had failed to raise a triable issue of fact on either a likelihood of confusion or intentional deception, the Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment to the defendant.[lxx]  

In Checkpoint Systems, Inc. v. Check Point Software Technologies, Inc., the Third Circuit assesses all ten Lapp factors and then analyzes initial interest confusion.[lxxi]  The Lapp factors are the Third Circuit’s ten factors used to determine likelihood of confusion in trademark infringement cases.[lxxii]  Furthermore, all Lapp factors should be considered whether a plaintiff alleges initial interest confusion, point-of-sale confusion, or both.[lxxiii]   Two district courts in the Third Circuit addressed initial interest confusion in keyword advertising cases with the District Court of New Jersey following Checkpoint and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania deviating from Checkpoint.[lxxiv]  The District Court of New Jersey in 800-Jr Cigar, Inc. v. Goto.com, Inc. followed Checkpoint by applying all ten Lapp factors and then engaged in a more comprehensive initial interest confusion analysis.  [lxxv]  The court looked at (1) product relatedness, (2) the level of care exercised by consumers in making purchasing decisions, (3) the sophistication of the purchaser/consumer; and (4) the intent of the alleged infringer in adopting the mark.[lxxvi]  The court ultimately found genuine issues of material fact in four of the ten Lapp factors and the impact, if any, of initial interest confusion and denied both parties’ motions for summary judgment.[lxxvii]

Conversely, the court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in the Third Circuit declined to extend initial interest confusion in keyword advertising in JG Wentworth v. Settlement Funding LLC.[lxxviii]  JG Wentworth alleged Settlement Funding LLC’s purchase of the keyword “JG Wentworth” from Google AdWords for sponsored link advertisements and using JG Wentworth’s trademarks as metatags in Settlement Funding LLC’s websites caused initial interest confusion.[lxxix]  Instead of applying the Lapp factors, the court hastily decided there was no likelihood of confusion and no trademark infringement because Settlement Funding LLC’s website link was “separate and distinct” from JG Wentworth’s website link, therefore eliminating potential consumers from the “opportunity to confuse defendant’s services, goods, advertisements, links or websites for those of JG Wentworth’s.”[lxxx]

Since Brookfield, the Ninth Circuit has encountered a variety of cases alleging initial interest confusion on the Internet.[lxxxi]  In the Internet context, the Ninth Circuit has applied its Sleekcraft factors before addressing initial interest confusion in trademark infringement cases involving a domain name, keyword advertising, and most recently with Google’s AdWords program.[lxxxii]  However, the Ninth Circuit has also held that in the Internet context, the three most important Sleekcraft factors are (1) the similarity of the marks, (2) the relatedness of the goods or services, and (3) the parties’ simultaneous use of the Web as a marketing channel.[lxxxiii]  These three factors have been dubbed the “controlling troika” or the “internet trinity.”[lxxxiv]  When the Internet trinity factors suggest likely confusion, the other factors must “weigh strongly” against a likelihood of confusion to avoid finding infringement.[lxxxv]

For example, in Interstellar Starship Services, Ltd. v. Epix, Inc., the plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s domain name caused a likelihood of initial interest confusion.[lxxxvi] The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding of no likelihood of initial interest confusion, explicitly stating that the district court correctly applied all Sleekcraft factors instead of just the internet trinity factors.[lxxxvii]  However, courts have interpreted Interstellar to engage in a type of burden-shifting analysis between the internet trinity factors and the rest of the Sleekcraft factors.[lxxxviii]  After finding the internet trinity factors favor a plaintiff, the burden shifts to the defendant to prove the remaining factors “weigh strongly against a likelihood of confusion.”[lxxxix]  This was seen in Perfumebay.com Inc. v. eBay Inc. with Perfumebay.com seeking declaratory judgment that its various forms of the mark “Perfumebay” did not infringe eBay’s trademark.[xc]  The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that a likelihood of consumer confusion and initial interest confusion existed.[xci]  There was a likelihood of consumer confusion because the trinity factors (strong similarity between the marks “Perfumebay” and “eBay,” both parties used the internet as a marketing channel, and both parties sold similar products) weighed strongly in eBay’s favor and the plaintiff could not outweigh this showing with any of the other Sleekcraft factors.[xcii]

The Sixth Circuit, like the Ninth Circuit, applies the Internet trinity factors and the other remaining five factors from its traditional likelihood of confusion test.[xciii]  In Paccar Inc. v. TeleScan Technologies, L.L.C., the trucking company Paccar claimed trademark infringement against TeleScan Technologies, the owner of a used truck locator website, based on Paccar’s trademarks in its domain names and meta tags.[xciv]  After the district court granted a preliminary injunction against the defendants, Sixth Circuit affirmed the preliminary injunction due to Paccar’s demonstration of “a likelihood of confusion and, thus, a strong likelihood of success on the merits of its trademark infringement claim.”[xcv]  Central to its holding, the court relied on the internet factors of mark similarity, relatedness of goods or services, simultaneous use of the Internet as a marketing channel, without relying much on the other likelihood of confusion factors.[xcvi]

2.  Courts analyzing only initial interest confusion or giving undue weight to diversion

Some courts found a likelihood of confusion because of initial interest confusion without engaging in the traditional multi-factor analysis or give undue weight to diversion in finding a likelihood of ocnfusion exists.[xcvii]  At least one district court is not applying any of the factors tests and instead is relying solely on the initial interest doctrine.[xcviii]  In Morningware, Inc. v. Hearthware Home Products, Inc., the court for the Northern District of Illinois found the plaintiff had sufficiently alleged evidence of initial interest confusion to deny the defendant’s Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss.[xcix]  The defendant had purchased plaintiff’s trademark and variations of plaintiff’s trademark as a keyword from Google’s AdWords program.[c]  In finding a likelihood of confusion, the Morningware court relied on a previous Seventh Circuit ruling in Promatek Indus., Ltd. v. Equitrac Corp.[ci]

Promatek involved analogous facts to Morningware, finding a likelihood of confusion when the defendant used the plaintiff’s trademarks in the defendant’s website metatags.[cii]  In Promatek, the Seventh Circuit recognized that initial interest confusion can arise even if consumers who are misled to a website are only briefly confused.[ciii]  Under Promatek, “What is important is not the duration of the confusion, it is the misappropriation of Promatek’s goodwill.”[civ]  In Morningware, “Hearthware’s advertisement does not mention Hearthware and the consumer who views the Hearthware advertisement searched for the term ‘Morningware,’ the advertisement could mislead consumer to believe that the link is associated with Hearthware.”[cv]  Following Promatek, Morningware had sufficiently alleged initial interest confusion.[cvi]  In reaching this conclusion, the court did not engage in any likelihood of confusion analysis.  The court cited seven factors to assess for the likelihood of consumer confusion, but then spent the rest of the likelihood of confusion discussion only on Promatek.[cvii]

The Tenth Circuit in Australian Gold, Inc. v. Hatfield is an example of a court giving undue weight to diversion.[cviii]  Defendant Hatfield sold plaintiff Australian Gold’s (“AG”) tanning products over the internet without AG’s authorization.[cix]  Hatfield used AG’s trademarks in website metatags and paid a search engine for search result priority.[cx]  The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s finding Hatfield liable for trademark infringement for using AG’s trademark within Hatfield’s metatags.[cxi] The court found that the defendant’s intent in using the marks, similarity of products and manner of marketing, the degree of care consumers were likely to exercise, and mark strength all weighed in plaintiff’s favor.[cxii]  However, the court went a step further and found that diversion was inherently damaging even though the plaintiffs did not offer any evidence of actual confusion.[cxiii]  The court found that “the original diversion of the prospective customer’s interest to a source that he or she erroneously believes is authorized” is a harm caused by initial interest confusion.[cxiv]

Additionally, the court’s treatment of Hatfield’s website disclaimers bolstered the court’s belief that diversion is inherently damaging.  Hatfield’s disclaimers disavowed any connection with plaintiffs and clarified the true source of the website.[cxv]  Adhering to its belief that damage had already been done once consumers were diverted to defendant’s websites, the court found defendant’s disclaimers to be irrelevant.[cxvi]  The purpose of Hatfield’s disclaimers were to clear up any consumer confusion, but the court found the damage from the original diversion was sufficiently actionable.  Australian Gold suggests that diversion is inherently damaging and even absent a defendant’s use of disclaimers or plaintiff’s evidence of actual confusion, the Tenth Circuit will still find actionable trademark infringement based on initial interest confusion.[cxvii]

3.  Courts analyzing initial interest confusion within the “evidence of confusion” or “customer care” factor of the traditional likelihood of confusion test

 The last formulation is courts analyzing initial interest confusion within the “evidence of confusion” factor or the “customer care” factor.  Including this analysis as part of the traditional likelihood of confusion factors adheres to the Lanham Act standard for trademark infringement, “likely to cause confusion.”[cxviii]  Subsuming initial interest confusion within the complete factors test also reconciles criticism that initial interest confusion is inappropriately expanding trademark infringement to include diversion.[cxix]

The Fifth Circuit applied initial interest confusion in the “evidence of actual confusion” factor based on witness testimony in Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. v. Capece.[cxx]  Elvis Presley Enterprises (“EPE”) claimed trademark infringement against Capece for using the service mark “The Velvet Elvis” for his nightclub and for using Elvis Presley’s image and likeness in advertising and promoting.[cxxi]    Within its seven-factor analysis, the court discussed initial interest confusion within evidence of actual confusion because customers were lured into “The Velvet Elvis” thinking it was associated with the “Elvis Presley” trademark name.[cxxii]  The court reasoned there was initial interest confusion even if the customers realized there was no association with “The Velvet Elvis” and “Elvis Presley” upon entering the nightclub.[cxxiii]  According to the court, “Despite the confusion being dissipated, this initial-interest confusion is beneficial to the Defendants because it brings patrons in the door; indeed, it brought at least one of EPE’s witnesses into the bar.  Once in the door, the confusion has succeeded because some patrons may stay, despite realizing that the bar has no relationship with EPE.”[cxxiv]  The court found this initial interest confusion coupled with actual confusion from Capece’s advertising practices weighed “evidence of actual confusion” in EPE’s favor.[cxxv]  Although the Fifth Circuit has not ruled specifically on initial interest confusion and keyword advertising cases, one scholar hypothesizes that based on Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., the Fifth Circuit may apply initial interest confusion because a sponsored link advertisement luring online customers into a website based on the use of a trademark is analogous to the luring rationale between “The Velvet Elvis” and “Elvis Presley.”[cxxvi]

As Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. found a likelihood of confusion based on both actual confusion and initial interest confusion,[cxxvii] courts have also reached similar conclusions even in the absence of actual confusion.[cxxviii]  The Sixth Circuit has even gone so far to state that, “evidence of initial-interest confusion comes into the eight factor Frisch test as a substitute for evidence of actual confusion.”[cxxix]  The court for the Southern District of Ohio adopted this approach in Tdata Inc. v. Aircraft Technical Publishers.[cxxx]  In Tdata Inc., the plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s website metatags containing plaintiff’s trademarks constituted trademark infringement.[cxxxi]  Before applying the eight factor Frisch test, the court decided to apply initial interest confusion, reasoning that, “use of the company’s mark in metatags constitutes infringing use of the mark to pull consumers to Tdata’s website and the products it features, even if the consumers later realize the confusion.”[cxxxii] Instead of just stopping there and concluding a likelihood of confusion, the court went through the eight factor Frisch test.[cxxxiii]  The previous finding of initial interest confusion was substituted into the “actual confusion” factor, even without evidence of actual confusion.[cxxxiv]  Tdata Inc. exemplifies the benefit of applying all of the factors instead of prematurely resting solely on initial interest confusion.  This case also shows that absent actual confusion, a court can properly assess the other factors and find a likelihood of confusion.[cxxxv]

The Second Circuit and the Seventh Circuit have also incorporated initial interest into the “consumer care” factor.[cxxxvi]  In Mobil, the Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s finding of initial confusion based on “the probability that potential purchasers would be misled into an initial interest in Pegasus Petroleum.”[cxxxvii]  In Promatek, the Seventh Circuit placed importance on consumer care, explicitly stating, “The degree of care exercised by consumers could lead to initial interest confusion,” before finding a likelihood of confusion existed.[cxxxviii]

A recent example of courts including initial interest analysis into the factors test is Babyage.com, Inc. v. Leachco, Inc. from the District Court of the Middle District of Pennsylvania.[cxxxix]  BabyAge.com’s baby product website includes “featured brand” manufacturers, including Leachco.[cxl]  The “featured brand” webpage displayed Leachco’s trademark and included a section entitled “Pregnancy Pillows.”[cxli]  The webpage also contained hyperlinks that would take the viewer to webpages containing non-Leachco products.[cxlii]  Leachco argued under a “bait and switch theory” that “prospective customers are ‘baited’ by Leachco’s brand into visiting the Leachco “featured brand” webpage on the Baby-Age Website, baited into pursuing a Leachco pregnancy pillow, and then “switched” to non-Leachco pregnancy pillows by the hyperlinks.[cxliii]  The court applied the Lapp factors and analyzed initial interest confusion within both the customer care and the actual confusion factors.[cxliv]  Under customer care, the court found that low price alone was insufficient to make an appropriate conclusion on the level of customer care.[cxlv]  Under actual confusion, Leachco sought more information on point of sale and internet traffic that may be probative of initial interest confusion.[cxlvi]  The court ultimately denied Leachco’s motion for summary judgment because more development was needed for the customer care and actual confusion factors.[cxlvii]

III.  Criticism of Tests 1 and 2 and Proposal for Courts to Adopt Test 3

A.  Criticism of Tests 1 and 2

The strongest argument against Test 1, courts analyzing initial interest confusion separately before or after the traditional likelihood of confusion, is that this approach is inefficient and more time-consuming.  Instead, courts should include the initial interest analysis within one of the factors as proposed in Part III(B).  Separating the initial interest analysis from the likelihood of confusion factors is also problematic because it could run the risk of turning into the formulation in Part II(B)(2), just applying the initial interest analysis.   

Analyzing initial interest confusion as a separate doctrine without engaging in the traditional likelihood of confusion test in Test 2 is problematic because it acts as a shortcut to finding trademark infringement.[cxlviii]  Completely discarding the multi-factor test makes it easier for a plaintiff to prove trademark infringement if only initial interest confusion is needed.[cxlix]  Lowering the bar for plaintiffs to bring trademark infringement would not only strain the judicial system with increased cases, but would also adversely harm consumers and defendant trademark owners.  If trademark owners were more susceptible to trademark infringement cases, they would have to reallocate resources to defend themselves in court.  Instead of using resources to improve product quality and create new products, trademark owners would have to resources to defend trademark infringement suits, thereby depriving consumers.

Finding a likelihood of confusion solely on initial interest confusion in the Internet is dangerous and threatens to undermine the purposes of trademark law.  For example, a plaintiff could allege initial interest confusion based on diversion resulting from a defendant’s use of the plaintiff’s trademark in keyword advertising or metatags.  Suppose plaintiff and defendant compete in completely unrelated markets, have dissimilar marks, and both have high levels of consumer sophistication.  Under a traditional likelihood of confusion test, it is unlikely a court would find a likelihood of confusion under these circumstances.  However, a court choosing to solely apply initial interest confusion could focus on the defendant’s use of the plaintiff’s mark to divert consumers and find a likelihood of initial interest confusion.  Although no cases have gone to this extreme of finding initial interest confusion, some courts are inappropriately expanding the scope of initial interest confusion by giving undue weight to the misappropriation of goodwill.[cl]

Another statutory argument against courts just using initial interest confusion is this formulation conflates the trademark infringement test by using misappropriation of goodwill to satisfy both threshold use and likelihood of confusion.[cli]  Such a construction is doctrinally inappropriate because likelihood of confusion, not the misappropriation of goodwill, is the “hallmark” of analyzing trademark infringement.[clii]  Conflating the trademark infringement test would make it much easier for plaintiffs to bring trademark infringement cases, which would negatively affect the trademark owners who would have to expend time and resources to defend these cases. 

The greatest danger of applying solely initial interest confusion is that this approach disregards the Lanham Act.  The Lanham Act does not expressly state that trademark infringement is actionable based on initial interest confusion.  Instead, the only analysis within the Lanham Act is the likelihood of confusion test, so therefore the likelihood of confusion doctrine should be the only analysis applied to trademark infringement claims.[cliii]  One scholar likened initial interest confusion on the Internet to judicial activism.[cliv]  The argument was that since the Lanham Act does not include pre-sale confusion as actionable trademark infringement, courts could erroneously extend initial interest confusion to cover consumers searching on the Internet who become initially confused and interested in a competitor’s product.[clv]  Without the traditional likelihood of confusion factors test, courts could just apply initial interest confusion to almost any alleged defendant’s use of a sponsored link advertisement, which would frustrate consumers’ intent and interest.[clvi]

As this section demonstrates, courts should not base a finding of consumer confusion solely on initial interest confusion because this formulation contravenes the trademark goals of protecting the trademark owner’s interests and benefiting consumers.

B.  Proposal for Test 3

The District Court of the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Babyage.com, Inc. demonstrates a trend in the right direction of courts applying initial interest confusion within the factors test.  For the reasons stated above, courts should continue to apply the traditional likelihood of confusion factors and incorporate initial interest confusion within either the “evidence of actual confusion” or “customer care” factors.  Analyzing initial interest confusion within the likelihood of confusion test has already garnered support from some courts and scholars and the remaining courts should follow.[clvii]

This approach is preferable for three reasons:  (1) Maintaining the Lanham Act standard for finding a likelihood of confusion instead of giving undue weight to diversion, (2) Serving trademark goals of protecting trademark owner’s interests and benefit consumers, and (3) Incorporating the factors into the traditional likelihood of confusion test is efficient and easily applicable.

Firstly, analyzing initial interest confusion within the factors test maintains the Lanham Act standard because the court will still engage in the likelihood of confusion analysis without the risk of using initial interest as a shortcut to find trademark infringement.  Courts should still retain the power to decide whether or not some factors should be given more weight than others depending on the particular facts.  Secondly, this approach will satisfy the trademark goals because it will keep the focus on consumer confusion instead of consumer diversion.  Lastly, incorporating the factors is a timely solution for courts that are already familiar with their respective likelihood of confusion tests.  This approach is not drastically different nor does it change the standard, so judges can easily transition into analyzing initial interest confusion within one of their pre-existing factors during the routine likelihood of confusion test.

IV.  Conclusion

Post-Rescuecom recognition that use of another’s trademark to trigger keyword advertising is actionable trademark use will allow more Internet trademark infringement claims to pass summary judgment.[clviii]  In response, courts need a streamlined test for how to apply initial interest confusion in the Internet.  Among the confusing variations of the initial interest confusion doctrine, courts should incorporate the initial interest confusion analysis within the “evidence of actual confusion” factor or the “customer care” factor and continue to apply the traditional likelihood of confusion factors test.  This formulation of the initial interest confusion doctrine will promote trademark law’s dual purpose of protecting trademark owners’ interest in the mark and protecting consumers.


[i][i]1.1 Overview of AdWords – AdWords Help, http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/static.py?hl=en&guide=23611&pag... (last visited Oct. 3. 2010).

[ii]Id.

[iii]Id.

[iv][iv]See, e.g. Playboy Enters., Inc. v. Netscape Commc’ns Corp., 354 F.3d 1020, 1022-23 (9th Cir. 2004) (involving Netscape and Excite); Gov’t Employees Ins. Co. v. Google, Inc., 330 F.Supp.2d 700, 701-02 (E.D. Va. 2004) (involving Overture Services, Inc.).

[v]Search Ad Revenues Strong in Record-Breaking Half Year, IAB Reports #SEWatch, http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/101013-130544 (last visited Oct. 31, 2010).

[vi]How The World Spends Its Time Online – VisualEconomics.com, http://www.visualeconomics.com/how-the-world-spends-its-time-online_2010... (last visited Oct. 3, 2010).

[vii]See Brookfield Commc’ns, Inc. v. West Coast Entm’t Corp., 174 F.3d 1036 (9th Cir. 1999).

[viii]See, e.g., Rescuecom Corp. v. Google Inc., 562 F.3d 123, 127-31 (2d Cir. 2009) (involving keyword-based advertising); PACCAR Inc. v. TeleScan Techs., L.L.C., 319 F.3d 243, 247-48 (6th Cir. 2003) (involving both unlawful domain name and metatag use).

[ix]15 U.S.C. §§ 1051, 1051-1072, 1091-1096, 1111-1127 (2009).

[x]Id. at §1125.

[xi]See also Two Pesos, Inc. v. Taco Cabana, Inc., 505 U.S. 763, 782 at n.15 (Scalia, J., concurring) (quoting S. Rep. No. 1333, 79th Cong., 2d Sess., 3, 4 (1946)); See Graeme B. Dinwoodie & Mark D. Janis, Trademarks and Unfair Competition:  Law and Policy 15 (2d ed. 2007) (introducing the “two primary justifications … traditionally … offered in support of trademark protection”).

[xii]15 U.S.C. § 1125.

[xiii]15 U.S.C. § 1114(1).

[xiv]15 U.S.C. § 1125.

[xv]DeCosta v. Viacom Int’l, Inc., 981 F.2d 602, 605 (1st Cir. 1992); Checkpoint Sys., Inc. v. Check Point Software Tech., Inc., 269 F.3d 270, 279 (3d Cir. 2001).

[xvi]Id.

[xvii]Id.

[xviii]Id.

[xix]See Brookfield Commc’ns, Inc., 174 F.3d 1036 (using competitor’s mark as a metatag is actionable trademark use); Merck & Co., Inc. v. Mediplan Health Consulting, Inc., 425 F. Supp. 2d 402 (S.D.N.Y. 2006) (using plaintiff’s trademark for keyword advertising on Google’s AdWords is not actionable trademark use).

[xx]15 U.S.C. §1127.

[xxi]Mark Bartholomew, Article, Making a Mark in the Internet Economy:  A Trademark Analysis of Search Engine Advertising, 58 Okla. L. Rev. 179, 187 (2005).

[xxii]PACCAR Inc. v. TeleScan Techs., L.L.C., 319 F.3d 243, 247-48 (6th Cir. 2003).

[xxiii]See supra note 5 (Search advertising is the largest form of online advertising, accounting for 47% of first-half spending at $5.7 billion in 2010, an increase of 11.6% compared to the first half of 2009 at$5.1 billion).

[xxiv]Rescuecom Corp. v. Google Inc., 562 F.3d 123, 129 (2d Cir. 2009).

[xxv] See, e.g., N. Am. Med. Corp. v. Axiom Worldwide, Inc.,522 F.3d 1211, 1220 (11th Cir. 2008) (“[A]xiom’s use of NAM’s trademarks as meta tags constitutes a ‘use in commerce...”); Google Inc. v. Am. Blind & Wallpaper, No. C 03-5340 JF (RS), 2007 WL 1159950, at *6 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 18, 2007) (“[T]he sale of trademarked terms in the AdWords program is a use in commerce for the purposes of the Lanham Act.”); Boston Duck Tours, LP v. Super Duck Tours, LLC, 527 F. Supp. 2d 205, 207 (D. Mass. 2007) (“Because sponsored linking necessarily entails the ‘use’ of the plaintiff’s mark as part of a mechanism of advertising, it is ‘use’ for Lanham Act purposes.”); Edina Realty Inc. v. TheMLSOnline.com, No. 04-4371JRTFLN, 2006 WL 737064, at *3 (D. Minn. Mar. 20, 2006) (“Based on the plain meaning of the Lanham Act, the purchase of search terms is a use in commerce.”); J.G. Wentworth, S.S.C. LP v. Settlement Funding LLC, No. 06-0597, 2007 WL 30115, at *6 (E.D. Pa. 2007); (“By establishing an opportunity to reach consumers via alleged purchase and/or use of a protected trademark, defendant has crossed the line from internal use to use in commerce under the Lanham Act.”).

[xxvi]See, e.g. Allard Enters. v. Advanced Programming Res., Inc., 146 F.3d 350, 355 (6th Cir. 1998) (internal quotations omitted) (describing the likelihood of confusion as the “touchstone of liability”); Thomas McCarthy, McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition § 23:1 (4th ed. 2009) (noting that “the test of likelihood of confusion is the touchstone of trademark infringement”).

[xxvii]AMF Inc. v. Sleekcraft Boats, 599 F.2d 341, 346 (9th Cir. 1979).

[xxviii]Interpace Corp. v. Lapp, Inc., 721 F.2d 460, 463 (3d Cir. 1983) employing theLapp factors:  (1) degree of similarity between owner’s mark and alleged infringing mark; (2) strength of owner’s mark; (3) price of goods and other factors indicative of the care and attention expected of consumers when making a purchase; (4) the length of time the defendant has used the mark without evidence of actual confusion; (5) the intent of the defendant in adopting the mark; (6) the evidence of actual confusion; (7) whether the goods are marketed through the same channels of trade and advertised through the same media; (8) the extent to which the targets of the parties’ sales efforts are the same; (9) the relationship of the goods in the minds of consumers because of the similarity of functions; and (10) other facts suggesting that the consuming public might expect the prior owner to manufacture a product in the defendant’s market or that he is likely to expand into that market.

[xxix]McCarthy, supra 26, at 23-29.

[xxx]See, e.g., Eli Lilly & Co. v. Natural Answers, Inc., 233 F.3d 456, 464 (7th Cir. 2000) (“Such confusion, which is actionable under the Lanham Act, occurs when a consumer is lured to a product by its similarity to a known mark, even though the consumer realizes the true identity and origin of the product before consummating a purchase.”); Playboy Enters., Inc. v. Netscape Commc’ns Corp., 354 F.3d 1020, 1025 (9th Cir. 2004) (“Initial interest confusion is customer confusion that creates initial interest in a competitor’s product.  Although dispelled before an actual sale occurs, initial interest confusion impermissibly capitalizes on the goodwill associated with a mark and is therefore an actionable trademark infringement.”).

[xxxi]McCarthy, supra 26, at 23-28.

[xxxii]Dorr-Oliver, Inc. v. Fluid-Quip, Inc., 94 F.3d 376, 382 (7th Cir. 1996).

[xxxiii]Grotrian, Helfferich, Schulz, Th. Steinweg Nachf. v. Steinway & Sons (Grotrian II), 523 F.2d 1331, 1342 (2d Cir. 1975).

[xxxiv]Id. at 1333-34.

[xxxv]Id. at 716-17.

[xxxvi]Id. at 717.

[xxxviii]Grotrian II, 523 F.2d 1331 at 1342.

[xxxix]Id.

[xl]Id.

[xli]Mobil Oil Corp. v. Pegasus Petroleum Corp., 818 F.2d 254 (2d Cir. 1987).

[xlii]Id. at 259.

[xliii]See Elvis Presley Enters, Inc. v. Capece, 141 F.3d 188, 203 (5thCir. 1998) (applying initial interest confusion to the name of a night club); Dorr-Oliver, Inc. v. Fluid-Quip, Inc., 94 F.3d 376, 382-83 (7th Cir. 1996) (applying initial interest confusion to trade dress infringement).

[xliv]See Promatek Indus., Ltd. v. Equitrac Corp., 300 F.3d 808, 812-13, (7th Cir. 2002) (applying initial interest confusion to metatags); Perfumebay.com Inc. v. eBay Inc., 506 F.3d 1165, 1176 (9th Cir. 2007) (applying initial interest confusion comparing two websites); PACCAR Inc., 319 F.3d at 253-54 (applying initial interest to domain name and meta tags); Gov’t Employees Ins. Co. v. Google, Inc., No. 1:04CV507, 2005 WL 1903128 at *4, (E.D. Va. Aug. 8, 2005). (recognizing initial interest confusion as a viable theory for keyed advertising).

[xlv]Brookfield Commc’ns, Inc. v. West Coast Entm’t Corp., 174 F.3d 1036 (9th Cir. 1999).

[xlvi]Id. at 1042.

[xlvii]Id. at 1041-43.

[xlviii]See Ira S. Nathenson, Note, Internet Infoglut and Invisible Ink:  Spamdexing Search Engines with Metatags, 12 Harv. J. Law & Tech. 43, 62-63 (1998).

[xlix]Brookfield, 174 F.3d at 1062.

[l]Id.

[li]Id.

[lii]See J.G. Wentworth, S.S.C. LP v. Settlement Funding LLC, No. 06-0597, 2007 WL 30115 at *7 (E.D. Pa. 2007) (After discussing Brookfield, Judge J. O’Neill of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania states, “I respectfully disagree with the Ninth Circuit’s conclusion in Brookfield,” and refuses to apply initial interest confusion), and Bryce J. Maynard, Note, The Initial Interest Confusion Doctrine and Trademark Infringement on the Internet, 57 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 1303, 1336-43 (2000) (Brookfield (1) does not protect consumer interests because Ninth Circuit failed to understand search engine mechanics and (2) does not protect trademark owners interests because initial interest confusion does not work when companies are not direct competitors).

[liii]Brookfield, 174 F.3d 1036 at 1062.

[liv]Id. at 1062 n. 24.

[lv]See Niki R. Woods, Note, Initial Interest Confusion in Metatag Cases:  The Move from Confusion to Diversion, 22 Berkeley Tech. L.J. 393 (2007) (arguing against broad application of initial interest confusion in the Internet).

[lvi]Grotrian, Helfferich, Schulz, Th. Steinweg Nachf. v. Steinway & Sons (Grotrian II), 523 F.2d 1331, 1340 (2d Cir. 1975) and Mobil Oil Corp. v. Pegasus Petroleum Corp., 818 F.2d 254 at 259 (2d Cir. 1987).

[lvii]Brookfield, 174 F.3d at 1062.

[lviii]Zachary J. Zweihorn, Note, Searching for Confusion:  The Initial Interest Confusion Doctrine and Its Misapplication to Search Engine Sponsored Links, 91 Cornell L. Rev. 1343, 1355-56 (2006) (“Because any time wasted would be de minimis, users interested in Brookfield’s product would be unlikely to feel that they had wasted so much time by clicking a link that seeking out the correct Web site would unacceptably raise their search costs.”).

[lix]See Note, Confusion in Cyberspace:  Defending and Recalibrating the Initial Interest Confusion Doctrine, 117 Harv. L. Rev. 2387 (2004) (arguing that initial interest should apply in the Internet because under a cost-benefit analysis, the big cost of decrease in producers’ incentives to conduct business online and to provide consumers with high-quality online services does not outweigh the benefit to producers of cheap advertising from online trademark use).

[lx]Rachel R. Friedman, Note, No Confusion Here:  Proposing a New Paradigm for the Litigation of Keyword Advertising Trademark Infringement Cases, 12 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 355, 379 (2010).

[lxi]PACCAR Inc. v. TeleScan Techs., L.L.C., 319 F.3d 243, 255-58 (6th Cir. 2003); Promatek Indus., Ltd. v. Equitrac Corp., 300 F.3d 808, 812-13, (7th Cir. 2002); Brookfield Commc’ns, Inc. v. West Coast Entm’t Corp., 174 F.3d 1036, 1062 (9th Cir. 1999); Australian Gold, Inc. v. Hatfield, 436 F.3d 1228, 1239-40 (10th Cir. 2006); Savin Corp. v. The Savin Group, 391 F.3d 439, 462 (2d Cir. 2004); 800-Jr Cigar, Inc. v. Goto.Com, Inc., 437 F.Supp.2d 273, 290 (D. New Jersey 2006).

[lxii]See supra note 28.

[lxiii]See discussion infra Parts II.B.1, II.B.2, II.B.3.

[lxiv]CompareHasbro, Inc. v. Clue Computing, Inc., 231 F.3d 1, 2 (1st Cir. 2000) (refusing to apply initial interest confusion) with Perfumebay.com Inc. v. eBay Inc., 506 F.3d 1165, 1176 (9th Cir. 2007) (applying initial interest confusion); Compare Morningware, Inc. v. Hearthware Home Products, Inc., 673 F.Supp.2d 630, 636-38 (N.D. Il. 2009) (no likelihood of confusion factor analysis) with Trans Union LLC v. Credit Research, Inc., 142 F.Supp.2d 1029, 1043-44 (N.D. Il. 2001) (analyzing initial interest confusion within “evidence of actual confusion” factor).

[lxv]Savin Corp. v. The Savin Group, 391 F.3d 439, 462 (2d Cir. 2004); Checkpoint Systems, Inc. v. Check Point Software Technologies, Inc., 269 F.3d 270, 297-98 (3d Cir. 2001); Interstellar Starship Servs., Ltd. v. Epix, Inc., 304 F.3d 936, 945 (9th Cir. 2002).

[lxvi]Savin Corp., 319 F.3d 439 at 446.

[lxvii]Id. at 456.

[lxviii]Savin Corp. v. The Savin Group, No. 02 Civ.9377 SAS, 2003 WL 22451731 at *12 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 24, 2003).

[lxix]Id. at *12, *13.

[lxx]Savin Corp. v. The Savin Group, 391 F.3d 439, 462 (2d Cir. 2004).

[lxxi]Checkpoint Systems, Inc. v. Check Point Software Technologies, Inc., 269 F.3d 270, 297-98 (3d Cir. 2001).

[lxxii]Id. at 280.

[lxxiii]Id.at 297.

[lxxiv]800-Jr Cigar, Inc. v. Goto.com, Inc., 437 F.Supp.2d 273, 290 (D. N.J. 2006); JG Wentworth v. Settlement Funding LLC, No. 06-0597, 2007 WL 30115 at *7 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 4, 2007).

[lxxv]800-JR Cigar, Inc., 437 F.Supp.2d at 290.

[lxxvi]Id.

[lxxvii]Id. at 292.

[lxxviii]JG Wentworth, No. 06-0597, 2007 WL 30115, at *7.

[lxxix]Id. at *2.

[lxxx]Id. at *8.

[lxxxi]Perfumebay.com Inc. v. eBay Inc., 506 F.3d 1165, 1176 (9th Cir. 2007); Interstellar Starship Servs., Ltd. v. Epix, Inc., 304 F.3d 936, 942-46 (9th Cir. 2002); Storus Corp. v. Aroa Marketing, Inc., No. C-06-2454 MMC, 2008 WL 449835 at *4-5 (N.D. Cal. 2008); Google Inc. v. Am. Blind & Wallpaper, No. C 03-5340 JF (RS), 2007 WL 1159950 at *9-10 (N.D. Cal. 2007); Soilworks, LLC v. Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc., 575 F.Supp.2d 1118, 1130-33 (D. Ariz. 2008).

[lxxxii]Perfumebay.com Inc., 506 F.3d 1165 (9th Cir. 2007) (keyword advertising); Interstellar Starship Servs., Ltd., 304 F.3d 936 (9th Cir. 2002) (domain name); Storus Corp., No. C-06-2454 MMC, 2008 WL 449835 (N.D. Cal. 2008) (Google AdWords); Google Inc., No. C 03-5340 JF (RS), 2007 WL 1159950 (Google AdWords).

[lxxxiii]GoTo.com v. Walt Disney Co., 202 F.3d 1199, 1204 (9th Cir. 2000).

[lxxxiv]Id. at 1207.

[lxxxv]Brookfield Commc’ns, Inc. v. West Coast Entm’t Corp., 174 F.3d 1036, 1058 (9th Cir. 1999).

[lxxxvi]Interstellar Starship Servs., Ltd., 304 F.3d at 938.

[lxxxvii]Id. at 942-43.

[lxxxviii]Perfumebay.com Inc v. eBay Inc., 506 F.3d 1165, 1173-74 (9th Cir. 2007); Storus Corp. v. Aroa Marketing, Inc., No. C05-2454 MMC, 2008 WL 449835 at *5 (N.D. Cal. 2008).

[lxxxix]Perfumebay.com Inc., 506 F.3d at 1174-75.

[xc]Id. at 1168.

[xci]Id. at 1176.

[xcii]Id.

[xciii]Paccar Inc. v. TeleScan Technologies, L.L.C., 319 F.3d 243, 255-258 (6th Cir. 2003).

[xciv]Id. at 248-49.

[xcv]Id. at 248-49, 255, 258.

[xcvi]Id. at 255.

[xcvii]Australian Gold, Inc. v. Hatfield, 436 F.3d 1228, 1239-40 (10th Cir. 2006); Morningware, Inc.v. Hearthware Home Products, Inc., 673 F. Supp.2d 630, 636-38 (N.D. Ill. 2009); Gov’t Employees Ins. Co., No. 1:04CV507, 2005 WL 1903128 at *4 (E.D. Va. Aug. 8, 2005).

[xcviii]Morningware, 673 F.Supp.2d 630.

[xcix]Id. at 636-38.

[c]Id. at 633.

[ci]Id. at 636-7.

[cii]Promatek Industries, Ltd. v. Equitrac Corp., 300 F.3d 808, 812-13 (7th Cir. 2002).

[ciii]Id.

[civ]Id. at 813.

[cv]Morningware, Inc. v. Hearthware Home Products, Inc., 673 F.Supp.2d 630, 638 (N.D. Ill. 2009).

[cvi]Id.

[cvii]Id. at 636-38.

[cviii]Australian Gold, Inc. v. Hatfield, 436 F.3d 1228, 1239-40 (10th Cir. 2006) (Although the Tenth Circuit seems to base its decision on the fact that diversion is inherently damaging, it was also affirming the district court’s analysis under a six-prong factor test for likelihood of confusion, so it is not a complete departure from the likelihood of confusion test. In fact, the court briefly analyzed the factors and then discussed the inherently damaging effect of diversion after stating the plaintiffs did not offer any direct evidence of actual confusion. This suggests that the court did not even need initial interest confusion to find a likelihood of confusion and that stating diversion as inherently damaging was just a broad application of initial interest confusion.).

[cix]Id. at 1232.

[cx]Id. at 1233.

[cxi]Id.

[cxii]Id. at 1239-40.

[cxiii]Id. at 1239.

[cxiv]Id.

[cxv]Id. at 1240.

[cxvi]Id.

[cxvii]Woods, supra note 55, at 406-7.

[cxviii]15 U.S.C. § 1125.

[cxix]Woods, supra note 55, at 411-13 (arguing that courts are broadening the scope of initial interest by (1) giving goodwill too much importance in protecting trademarks’ goodwill rather than looking for confusion and (2) allowing misappropriation of goodwill to constitute use).

[cxx]Elvis Presley Enters., Inc. v. Capece, 141 F.3d 188, 203-4 (5th Cir. 1998).

[cxxi]Id. at 191, 193.

[cxxii]Id. at 204.

[cxxiv]Id.

[cxxv]Id.

[cxxvi]Patrick Ryan Barry, Comment, The Lanham Act’s Applicability to the Internet and Keyword Advertising:  Likelihood of Confusion v. Initial Interest Confusion, 47 Duq. L. Rev. 355, 366 (2009) (“If the court would find that a sponsored link advertisement lured an online customer into a website based on the use of a trademarked name, that court might be inclined to rule that there was initial interest confusion and trademark infringement even if the customer knew the true source of the website and its products before making a purchase.”).

[cxxvii]Elvis Presley Enters., Inc. v. Capece, 141 F.3d 188, 204 (5th Cir. 1998).

[cxxviii]Trans Union LLC v. Credit Research, Inc., 142 F. Supp.2d 1029, 1043-44 (N.D. Ill. 2001); Tdata Inc. v. Aircraft Technical Publishers, 411 F.Supp.2d 901, 908 (S.D. Oh. 2006).

[cxxix]Gibson Guitar Corp. v. Paul Reed Smith Guitars, LP, 423 F.3d 539, 550 (6th Cir. 2005).

[cxxx]Tdata Inc., 411 F.Supp.2d at 908 (“[T]he initial interest confusion doctrine is applicable as but one part of a relevant eight-factor inquiry.”).

[cxxxi]Id. at 904.

[cxxxii]Id. at 907.

[cxxxiii]Id. at 908-12.

[cxxxiv]Id. at 909. 

[cxxxv]Id. at 908-12. 

[cxxxvi]Promatek Indus., Ltd. v. Equitrac Corp., 300 F.3d 808, 812 (7th Cir. 2002); Mobil Oil Corp. v. Pegasus Petroleum Corp., 818 F.2d 254, 260 (2d Cir. 1987).

[cxxxvii]Mobil Oil Corp., 818 F.2d 254 at 260.

[cxxxviii]Id. at 812-14.

[cxxxix]BabyAge.com, Inc. v. Leachco, Inc., No. 3:08-cv-1600, 2009 WL 82552 at *8-12 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 12, 2009).

[cxl]Id.

[cxli]Id.

[cxlii]Id. at *6.

[cxliv]Id. at *10.

[cxlv]Id.

[cxlvi]Id.

[cxlvii]Id. at *12-13.

[cxlviii]Woods, supra note 55, at 405-6.

[cxlix]Id.

[cl]Australian Gold, Inc. v. Hatfield, 436 F.3d 1228, 1239 (10th Cir. 2006); Promatek Indus., Ltd. v. Equitrac Corp., 300 F.3d 808, 812-13 (7th Cir. 2002); See also Woods, supra note lxxiii at 411-12 (arguing against broadening initial interest confusion to protect trademarks’ goodwill rather than looking for confusion).

[cli]Woods, supra note 55, at 412. 

[clii]Lamparello v. Falwell, 420 F.3d 309, 314 (4th Cir. 2005).

[cliii]15 U.S.C. § 1125.

[cliv]Barry, supra note 126, at 370.

[clv]Id.

[clvi]Id. at 371.

[clvii]See infra part II.B.3; see also Gregory R. Shoemaker, Comment, Don’t Blame Google:  Allowing Trademark Infringement Actions Against Competitors Who Purchase Sponsored Links on Internet Search Engines Under the Initial Interest Confusion Doctrine, 58 Cath. U. L. Rev. 535, 564 (2009).

[clviii]See Note, supra note 59. 

Jaclyn Sitjar © Copyright 2011

TRENDING LEGAL ANALYSIS


About this Author

Jaclyn Sitjar is a 3L at the Saint Louis University School of Law.  She will graduate in May 2011 with the Intellectual Property Concentration.  She graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2008 with a degree in English.  She became interested in law school after a Summer Service Project Internship with an Albany County Family Court Judge in Albany, New York.  She spent her past two summers with judicial internships at the Fulton County Circuit Court in Rochester, IN and the Circuit Court of Cook County in Chicago, IL. 

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