Trade-mark Decision: Perfumebay vs. eBay

The question is whether the trade-mark PERFUMEBAY is confusingly similar to EBAY for online sales of perfume. Yesterday after a lengthy battle, the court came down in eBay’s favour.

eBay Inc. secured broad protection for its famous EBAY mark in the decision released on Monday in Inc. v. eBay Inc., (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals No. CV-04-01358-WDK, November 5, 2007). The decision upholds a permanent injunction against Perfumebay, stopping it from using the marks PERFUMEBAY (and variations such as perfumebay, perfume-bay or PerfumeBay). The injuction did not extend to “non-conjoined variants” (don’t you love lawyers?); in other words, eBay couldn’t prevent the use of “Perfume Bay” as two separate words. This is a minor and largely meaningless concession considering that Perfumebay’s business is all online and “non-conjoined variants” can’t function as domain names. This leaves Perfumebay without an internet storefront.

The Court reiterated the factors to be considered in determining trade-mark confusion in the internet context:

  1. the similarity of the marks,
  2. the relatedness of the goods and services, and
  3. the parties’ simultaneous use of the Web as a marketing channel.

A mark can only enjoy protection within its field of use. Significantly, the Court defined eBay’s field of use as “the sale of products on an internet-based marketplace”. This appears to extend eBay’s trade-mark monopoly to include any mark that contains the suffix “bay” and involves online sales of any kind.
Calgary – 09:22 MST

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