South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Website Bashing a Company Not in Violation of Federal Laws
Description Appeals court held that a website designed to be critical of a company and that drew on the name of the company, did not violate the company's trademark and was not cybersquatting as there was no commercial intent by the creator of the site.
Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words Trademark; Website; Dilution; Cybersquatting
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts TMI builds homes under the name TrendMaker Homes and has the domain name http://www.trendmakerhomes.com. An unhappy customer, Maxwell, created a website to post information about the company at http://www.trendmakerhomes.com and used a logo similar to TMI's. The site was clearly identified as not a part of TMI. It told his unhappy experience with TMI and invited others to share their information. TMI sued Maxwell for violating the anti-dilution provision of the Lanham Act and the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). The district court held for TMI; Maxwell appealed.
Decision

Reversed and remanded. Maxwell's site was not commercial use as required to fall under the anti-dilution provision of the Lanham Act and the ACPA. Maxwell posted the site for information only; he accepted no contributions or advertisements. His posting his story on the website did not demonstrate bad faith intent to profit from a violation of TMI's marks. He did not attempt to lure customers away from TMI. He properly registered and used the domain name and never tried to sell it to TMI in an effort to profit from his actions.

Citation TMI, Inc. v. Maxwell, 368 F.3d 433 (5th Cir., 2004)

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