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Network Network v. CBS

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Citation Edit

Network Network v. CBS, Inc., 54 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1150 (C.D. Cal. 2000).

Factual Background Edit

The Network Network (“Network”), a computer-training and consulting company, used the mark TNN for its computer-related services since 1989 and began operating its “tnn.com” website in 1994. The Nashville Network (“Nashville”), acquired by CBS in 1997, used the federally registered trademark TNN for television-network services since 1981. After CBS acquired Nashville, it sent a cease-and-desist letter to Network about Network’s use of the “tnn.com” domain name. Network then filed this declaratory-judgment action.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

In its motion for summary judgment, CBS claimed that Network’s use of the “tnn.com” domain name infringed and diluted CBS’s TNN mark under federal and state law. In denying CBS’s motion and granting a motion for summary judgment filed by Network, the court rejected CBS’s dilution claim because: (1) CBS did not prove that Nashville’s TNN mark was famous in 1989 when Nashville first began using the TNN mark continuously; and (2) Network’s use of the “tnn.com” domain name for nearly four years indicated that Network’s Internet activity did not “seriously dilute the value of Nashville’s trademark.”

Regarding trademark infringement, television programs and computer courses were not related, and the parties’ common use of the Internet did not make those services related. That fans of Nashville might guess wrong and try to reach Nashville’s website at “tnn.com” did not constitute actionable confusion. Moreover, the doctrine of initial-interest confusion did not apply because the parties’ services were not related. According to the court, “unlikely indeed is the hapless Internet searcher who, unable to find information on the schedule of upcoming NASCAR broadcasts or ‘Dukes of Hazard’ reruns, decided to give up and purchase a computer network maintenance seminar instead.”

In conclusion, the court remarked that “[t]he fact that Nashville missed its opportunity to select the domain name it would now like to have is not sufficient to state a claim of infringement under the federal trademark law, particularly where, as here, there can be no genuine risk of confusion—initial or otherwise—by any consumer of reasonable prudence, and no argument that Network has sought or is now seeking to trade on Nashville’s good name.”

Source Edit

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