Techdirt is on holiday this Thursday and Friday. We'll be back with our regular posts on the weekend!Hide

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 3:48am

    Just Remember

    common sense, once again, dictates that Craigslist should not be the liable party The law and common sense are two separate entities.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    CleverName, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 5:13am

    "The lawsuit was originally filed in a Texas state court"

    Would that be in East Texas ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    minijedimaster (profile), Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 7:07am

    Never underestimate the stupidity of the human race.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 7:23am


    Its really sad to see what the judicial system has come to. I've read this article right after reading an article about a 15 year old girl who was charged with child pornography after sending a naked picture to a 27 year old man... How backwards do things have to get before massive change is needed?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Alex, Jul 2nd, 2009 @ 12:19pm

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Jiminy Cricket (profile), Jul 3rd, 2009 @ 9:18pm

    Re: Enough is enough

    AKA Lawyers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Hide this ad »
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Techdirt Reading List
Hide this ad »
Recent Stories
Hide this ad »


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.