Linking

Singaporean Company Claims Patent to Image-Based Linking: Patent Busting Needed!

Vuestar, a patent-holding company from Singapore that describes itself as "the Pioneer of visual search," is asserting patent rights in the technology that enables websites to link to other webpages using an image rather than text. According to Ars Technica, the firm recently has been sending invoices to companies that it believes are using its patented technology.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Linking to Copyrighted Materials

If you publish your work online, you are already in the practice of using links to enhance your content. The Web's basic architecture relies heavily on the ability of webpages to link to other pages to allow natural navigation between related content. It is hard to imagine the smooth functioning (or even continued existence) of the Web without hypertext links that act as a reference system identifying and enabling quick access to other material.

Ford Motor Company v. 2600 Enterprises

Date: 

04/18/2001

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

2600 Enterprises; Eric Corley (a.k.a. Emmanual Goldstein)

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Southern Division)

Case Number: 

01-CV-71685-DT

Legal Counsel: 

Eric Grimm

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Injunction Denied

Description: 

As an act of "cyber-art," defendants 2600 Enterprises and Eric Corley registered the domain name www.fuckgeneralmotors.com and programmed the associated website so that it would automatically redirect to www.ford.com, Ford Motor Company's official website. Ford sued for trademark dilution, trademark infringement, and unfair competition under the Lanham Act. In its complaint, Ford claimed that the defendants' actions caused Ford to be "linked not only to the vulgar, strident criticism of a competitor, but also associated with the offensive, obscene word that is used in the domain name."

The federal district court in Michigan denied Ford's motion for a preliminary injunction, thus allowing 2600 and Corley to continue to link their website to Ford's. The court ruled, for purposes of the trademark dilution claim, that 2600 and Corley had not made a "commercial" use of the Ford trademark because it appeared only in the programming code that created the hyperlink to Ford's site. The court reasoned:

This court does not believe that Congress intended the FTDA to be used by trademark holders as a tool for eliminating Internet links that, in the trademark holder's subjective view, somehow disparage its trademark. Trademark law does not permit Plaintiff to enjoin persons from linking to its homepage simply because it does not like the domain name or other content of the linking webpage.

Based on similar reasoning, the court ruled that 2600 and Corley had not used Ford's mark "in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, or advertising of any goods or services," as required for the trademark infringement and unfair competition claims.

Ford initially appealed the decision, but later withdrew the appeal.

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

 

 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

City of Sheboygan v. Reisinger

Date: 

10/19/2007

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Jennifer Reisinger

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (Milwaukee)

Case Number: 

2:08-cv-00708-CNC

Legal Counsel: 

Paul E. Bucher - Gatzke & Ruppelt SC

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Description: 

Jennifer Reisinger operates Sheboygan Spirit, a website pertaining to the government and community of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and Brat City Web Design, a site promoting her web development business.  Reisinger's business site contained a link to the Sheboygan Police Department.  On October 19, 2007, the city attorney for the City of Sheboygan sent Reisinger a cease-and-desist letter requesting that she remove the link to the police department from her site. The letter said that "maintenance of this link could be construed as having been authorized or endorsed by the City and/or its Police Department."

Reisinger initially removed the link but nevertheless received a call from the Sheboygan Police, telling her they were conducting "an official police investigation relative to the linking of her Web site to the City of Sheboygan Police Department."  Reisinger then hired an attorney who advised her to put the link back up.  Her attorney sent several letters to the chief of police, to the mayor, and to the city attorney stating that the city had given no legal basis for its cease-and-desist order.

On November 6, 2007, the city notified Reisinger that it had decided against taking legal action, and the mayor publicly apologized for the incident in an editorial in the local newspaper.

However, the issue doesn't appear to have gone away.  On August 20, 2008, Reisinger filed a lawsuit in federal court in Milwaukee against the City of Sheboygan, its mayor, police chief, and city clerk, claiming that the defendants violated her First Amendment rights.  According to her complaint, the city's initial demand that she remove the link to the police department and the subsequent criminal investigation were done in retaliation for her support of recalling Mayor Juan Perez.  As a result of the defendants' actions, she claims she "suffered a significant decrease in income, resulting in an estimated 53% decrease in her
personal annual income, significant emotional distress and concern for her safety."

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

Via BNA Internet Law News

Content Type: 

Threat Source: 

Listserv

Subject Area: 

Ubisoft v. Kyanka

Date: 

11/15/2007

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Richard Kyanka

Type of Party: 

Individual
Large Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Richard "Lowtax" Kyanka is the webmaster of SomethingAwful, an online community forum with the catch phrase: "The Internet Makes You Stupid." A member of the community posted a link on the forum to a comic that depicted Jade Raymond engaged in sexual activities. Raymond is a video game producer for Ubisoft.

Ubisoft sent Kyanka a cease-and-desist letter, demanding that the comic be taken down from the site and threatening legal action. The letter claims that the comic infringed upon Ms. Raymond's "personal rights," caused emotional distress, and constituted trademark infringement, among other things.

Mr. Kyanka posted the letter on SomethingAwful in his own forum posting. In the posting, Kyanka claimed that he had no connection to the comic except that a link to it was posted on the forum. He said that he does not know who drew the comic and does not know where the image is located. Kyanka also sent Ubisoft's legal counsel a reply email, indicating that perhaps he did not take the legal threat seriously:

Please let it be known that hereforth I have read the express mail and email sent thereforth by Famous Lawyer David Anderson of the Famous Lawyer Law Business of Nixon Peabody LLP, and furthermore a declaration shall be expressed on the part of Internet User Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka that that forth herethrough I have conducted rigorous tests implemented through a vigorous barrage of legal studies, and furthermore hitherthrough these rigorous tests have therefore proven Famous Lawyer David Anderson of the Famous Lawyer Law Business of Nixon Peabody LLP shall be recognized as a man of the fag persuasion.

Pursuant to the United Dairy Council

Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka
Internet

The link to the comic is no longer on SomethingAwful, and Ubisoft has not taken any legal action against Kyanka.

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

Requested a PDF of the letter from Kyanka, but haven't heard anything back yet. -Stefani

SB - we have a copy of the comic at issue. We probably don't want to post it, as it is sexually explicit.

DA - I agree.

As of 6/09/2008  - no developments. Do we still want to try and get the letter? (JMC)

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Diebold, Inc. v. Online Policy Group

Date: 

10/10/2003

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Party Issuing Legal Threat: 

Diebold, Inc.

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Online Policy Group

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Organization
Intermediary

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

Case Number: 

C 03-04913 JF

Legal Counsel: 

Wendy Seltzer, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Settled (total)

Description: 

Sometime in early 2003, an unknown person or persons obtained and reproduced on the Internet copies of an archive of email messages exchanged between employees of Diebold, a manufacturer of electronic voting machines. According to court documents, some emails in the archive acknowledged problems associated with Diebold's machines. Two Swarthmore students obtained copies of the leaked email messages and posted them on their server at Swarthmore. An anonymous poster described these documents on IndyMedia, an independent news site, and linked to their location at Swarthmore. Subsequently, commenters and other posters on IndyMedia linked to other places where the documents were hosted as well.

On October 10, 2003, Diebold sent a DMCA takedown notice to Online Policy Group (OPG), a nonprofit web hosting company providing services to IndyMedia. The letter asserted that IndyMedia was infringing Diebold's copyrights by providing links to webpages containing the leaked email correspondence and demanded that OPG remove or disable access to the links in question. OPG refused, responding in an October 22 letter that neither OPG or IndyMedia was hosting the alleged infringing material, that linking was not among the exclusive rights granted by copyright law, and that the postings on IndyMedia were fair use.

OPG and the two college students then sued Diebold in federal court in November 2004, claiming that the company had violated section 512(f) of the DMCA, which creates a cause of action for damages, including costs and attorneys fees, for "knowingly materially misrepresent[ing]" in a takedown notice "that material or activity is infringing." The court granted summary judgment to OPG on its section 512(f) claim, finding that portions of the email archive were so clearly subject to the fair use defense that "[n]o reasonable copyright holder could have believed that [they] were protected by copyright." According to the EFF, Diebold subsequently agreed to pay $125,000 in damages and fees to settle the lawsuit.

(Note: the "Verdict/Settlement Amount" field refers to amount that the party receiving the legal threat (in this case, the original DMCA takedown notice) paid to resolve the threat. Because Diebold, not OPG, paid to settle the lawsuit, we are not including the $125,000 in that field.)

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

 

 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Goldman v. Digg.com

Date: 

08/03/2007

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Party Issuing Legal Threat: 

Fred Goldman; Ron Goldman, LLC

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Digg.com

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Intermediary

Publication Medium: 

Website

Description: 

An attorney for Fred Goldman and his copyright management company, Ron Goldman, LLC, sent a cease and desist letter to Digg.com, a social linking site. In the letter, the attorney alleged that Digg was "encouraging and inducing users of [its] website to download portable document format ('PDF') copies" of the manuscrip for OJ Simpson's book "If I Did It." The letter demanded that Digg cease and desist from distributing the book.

It is unclear what action, if any, Digg took in response, but links to what purports to be the manuscript dating from June 2007 remain on the site. Since Digg does not itself host PDF files, the allegedly infringing activity was most likely a link posted by a Digg user to a PDF file hosted by another website.

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

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