Forget Suing Google, Now It's Craigslist That's A Target For Misplaced Lawsuit

from the no-surprise-really dept

It’s been quite common for companies to sue Google when a competitor puts up an ad that references their own trademarks. This is misguided in any number of ways: first, as long as the ad itself is not confusing such that the reader (or a moron in a hurry reader) would think that the ad is from the original company rather than the competitor, there’s not likely to be a trademark violation. More importantly, even if there is a trademark violation, it should not be Google’s liability, since they’re simply the service provider. The liability (if there is any) would be on whoever created the ad. Mostly, the courts have gotten this right — though, sometimes they’ve gotten confused. Either way, those lawsuits keep getting filed.

And now, it appears, they’re spreading. Dave Barnes alerts us to the news that a similar lawsuit has been filed against Craigslist. The lawsuit was originally filed in a Texas state court, but has been transferred to a federal court — but not before the state court banned Craigslist from posting any more ads with those trademarked words. Considering that Craigslist does not pre-screen posts to its site, it’s not at all clear how that’s even possible. And, considering that trademarks only cover use in commerce in a specific context, it would be way too onerous to insist that Craigslist could not allow the phrases “Call First,” “First Call Properties,” or “Call Us First,” in any context whatsoever.

Hopefully, the federal court is quick to dismiss Craigslist from the suit. Unfortunately, since trademark claims don’t have a section 230 or DMCA safe harbor, it may be a little more involved than some other cases. But common sense, once again, dictates that Craigslist should not be the liable party here and should not be responsible for policing the text of posts. To make the claim even more ridiculous, since Craigslist doesn’t charge for the ads in question, it’s difficult to see how Craigslist could be found to have been using these words “in commerce.” The lawsuit also alleges libel against Craigslist — which should get thrown out quite quickly under section 230. It’s too bad that the trademark claim might be a bit more involved.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: craigslist, google

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Forget Suing Google, Now It's Craigslist That's A Target For Misplaced Lawsuit”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Alex says:

Enough is enough

Another craigslist trouble headline. If it’s not rape, murder, assault, or scam, it’s getting sued over trademark infringement. I stopped using the site when it began charging for posting employment ads; switched to (it’s like craigslist, but without all the spam and without the risk of physical injury), but this lawsuit is ridiculous. Site is getting too big for its own good! It needs to hire more people assigned to reduce its vulnerability to all this crap

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...