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Playboy v. Netscape

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Citation Edit

Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Netscape Communications Corp., 354 F.3d 1020, 69 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1417 (9th Cir. 2004) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

Netscape and Excite are Internet search engines. They earned Playboy’s ire by including banner ads for other, adult-oriented companies on the results pages that list websites in response to searches for the words “playboy” and “playmate,” both of which (when spelled with capital P’s) are Playboy’s registered trademarks.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

Early in the case, the district court denied Playboy's motion for a preliminary injunction — a ruling that was affirmed the Court of Appeals (in an opinion it did not publish). Then, the trial court granted Netscape and Excite’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing the case entirely (in an unpublished opinion). Playboy appealed again.

Appellate Court Proceedings Edit

The appellate court held that fact issues exist on two key issues in the case: whether Netscape and Excite created a likelihood of “initial interest confusion” or diluted Playboy’s trademarks by listing other companies ads on “playboy” and “playmate” search result pages. As a result, the appellate court reversed the dismissal of the case and remanded it to the district court for trial.

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