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Ohio Art v. Watts

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Citation Edit

Ohio Art Co. v. Watts, 49 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1957 (N.D. Ohio 1998).

Factual Background Edit

Defendant promoted its WEB-A-SKETCH website where visitors could draw online using techniques similar to those in plaintiff’s famous ETCH A SKETCH toy. Defendant also used plaintiff’s ETCH A SKETCH trademark in a manner that could be detected by Internet search engines. Before the lawsuit, at plaintiff’s request, defendant’s website included a disclaimer stating that the WEB-A-SKETCH site was not related to plaintiff or its ETCH A SKETCH mark and a statement acknowledging that ETCH A SKETCH was a trademark of plaintiff. Later, defendant posted statements on its website denigrating plaintiff and urging visitors to protest plaintiff’s legal actions by sending e-mail messages to plaintiff and its attorneys.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

Plaintiff filed suit alleging trademark infringement, dilution, and unfair competition, and obtained a temporary restraining order. Shortly thereafter, the parties entered into a stipulated consent decree and permanent injunction providing that: (1) defendant diluted the famous ETCH A SKETCH mark, as visitors might think WEB-A-SKETCH was an Internet version of plaintiff’s famous toy; (2) defendant infringed plaintiff’s federally registered trademark by using a confusingly similar mark for its website, enabling visitors to draw under rules similar to those in plaintiff’s toy; (3) defendant engaged in unfair competition when it encouraged visitors to protest the lawsuit by sending e-mail messages to plaintiff and when it made other statements denigrating plaintiff; and (4) defendant was permanently enjoined from using the WEB-A-SKETCH or ETCH A SKETCH marks or any marks “similar thereto,” and from making disparaging, false, or scandalous remarks about plaintiff regarding the subject matter of the lawsuit.

Source Edit

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