Classified Ventures, L.L.C. v. Softcell Marketing, Inc., 109 F.Supp.2d 898 (N.D. Ill. 2000) (full-text).
Factual Background Edit
Plaintiff, owner of the trademark and domain name “cars.com” and one of the most popular auto-related Internet sites, brought suit after defendant sent at least 100,000 e-mail messages to America Online subscribers, all containing advertisements for Internet pornography services and bearing the false return address “email@example.com.”
Trial Court Proceedings Edit
Pursuant to a permanent injunction by consent, the court found that defendant’s unauthorized use of the “cars.com” mark in its spam e-mail messages constituted trademark infringement, dilution by tarnishment, and unfair competition under both federal and state law. The court held that the “cars.com” mark had achieved “overnight” strength and fame based on extensive use and advertising of the mark since the fall of 1997. According to the court, “Given the nature of communication, particularly over the Internet, even marks advertised but a year can develop strength and fame . . . .”
The strength and fame of the “cars.com” mark was “evident by the activity on the Cars.com Site, which is one of the most heavily trafficked auto-related web sites on the Internet.” Defendant was enjoined from, among other things, sending any e-mail containing plaintiff’s “cars.com” mark and name.
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