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Linking, Framing, and Metatagging

Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Calvin Designer Label,985 F.Supp. 2d 1220 (N.D. Cal. 1997)

Summary

This is one of the first cases involving metatags that was not resolved by settlement before a judge was allowed to rule on the likelihood of success of an infringement claim based at least in part on the use of plaintiff's trademarks in the defendant's web site metatags. Although the court granted the plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction precluding the use of the plaintiff's marks as metatags, the issue was decided without any opposition by the defendants.

Analysis

In this case, the defendant, Calvin Designer Label, opened two web sites, "playboyxxx.com" and "playmatelive.com" both of which featured adult material. Located in black type on the black background, the terms "PLAYBOY" and "PLAYBOY MAGAZINE" appeared on each web site and these same terms were also used as metatags. These acts resulted in the defendants' web sites being returned near the top of certain search engine queries for "Playboy" or "Playmate." The plaintiff, Playboy Enterprises, Inc. ("PEI"), which owns the trademarks PLAYBOY and PLAYMATE, did not authorize the defendant's use of its trademarks.

PEI filed suit alleging trademark infringement, dilution and unfair competition. PEI moved quickly for a preliminary injunction to block the continued use of its trademarks. On September 8, 1997, after the defendants failed to oppose that motion, the court found that PEI had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits and issued a preliminary injunction precluding any further use of the PLAYBOY and PLAYMATE trademarks as metatags or hidden text. The court also precluded further use of the "playboyxxx.com" and "playmatelive.com" domain names by the defendants and further ordered that the defendants immediately cancel the domain name registrations with NSI.

The defendants never filed an appearance, answered, or opposed the injunction and their sites have been taken offline.



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