On December 20, a ruling was issued denying Ford's complaint against 2600. Last April Ford Motor Company sued 2600 Enterprises for pointing fuckgeneralmotors.com at their website. The judge's decision reaffirms the right of domain name holders to point their websites where they choose. While the court avoided ruling on important First Amendment issues, it flatly rejected all of Ford's trademark infringement claims. "This is a decisive victory and we are absolutely delighted," said attorney Eric Grimm who argued the case for 2600. "The court ruled consistently with the law and all precedent."
In an eleven page decision, Judge Robert H. Cleland of the Eastern Michigan District Court dismissed each of Ford's claims. Ford had asserted that hyperlinking to their website or referring to it in DNS records constituted a variety of trademark violations. Judge Cleland rejected Ford's twisted interpretation of the trademark act, which claimed that by disparaging Ford's mark and preventing it from "fully exploiting the value of its mark" 2600's actions constituted a commercial use. The decision goes on to draw a distinction between cases in which a trademark was included as part of a domain name, and this case in which "Defendants only use of the word "ford" is in its programming code, which does no more than create a hyperlink--albeit automatic--to Plaintiff's "ford.com" site." He later adding that "…programming code, unlike the unauthorized use of a trademark as a domain name, does not inhibit Internet users from reaching the websites that are most likely to be associated with the mark holder."
The court further strengthens the right to hyperlink by stating that "Trademark law does not permit Plaintiff to enjoin persons from linking to its homepage simply because it does not like the domain name or other content of the linking webpage." Finally the court held that given the lack of "connection with goods or services," the standards for unfair competition are "not satisfied simply because a prospective user of the Internet may face some difficulty in finding the home page he is seeking."
2600 would like to thank Eric Grimm for doing a fantastic job on very short notice, and breaking our longstanding tradition of judicial defeat. We'd also like to thank the Electronic Frontier Foundation for their continued support and all of our readers who have donated their time and money towards this case.
Order Denying Plaintiff's "Motion for Preliminary Injunction" (HTML)
Order Denying Plaintiff's "Motion for Preliminary Injunction" (PDF)