Multi Time Machine v. Amazon.com

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Trademarks
  • Date Filed: 07-06-2015
  • Case #: 13-55575
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Bea for the Court; Circuit Judge Silverman and Senior District Judge Quist; Dissent by Judge Silverman
  • Full Text Opinion

A defendant infringes a trademark when they use the mark in commerce in a manner likely to cause confusion as to a product’s source, affiliation, association, or the trademark holder’s approval of the trademark user.

Multi-Time Machines (MTM) manufactures specialty watches under various brand names and holds a specific trademark for those names. Wanting to keep their high-end image, MTM decided not to use online retailer, Amazon.com (“Amazon”) to sell their watches, and also did not allow their other retailers to sell their watches through Amazon. Amazon sells a wide selection of products, including watches manufactured by competitors of MTM. Although a person cannot buy the product on the search screen, MTM Special Ops is still displayed in the search bar. Nowhere on Amazon’s website does it state that they do not carry MTM products. MTM sued Amazon, arguing that this system of using their trademark to find similar products made by their competitors confuses customers into thinking that these other companies make MTM products, therefore in violation of the Lanham Act. The district court granted relief to Amazon’s injunction to avoid damages on trademark infringement. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reviewed whether a trade mark infringement took place, and whether damages are appropriate. The Lanham Act states that “a defendant infringes a trademark when a defendant uses the mark in commerce in a manner likely to cause confusion as to a good’s source.” A trademark may also be infringed if there is confusion about the product’s affiliation, association, or trademark holder’s approval of the trademark user. The panel determined where a defendant infringes on another’s trademark that defendant is liable for damages and are subject to an injunction. Therefore, the panel disagreed with the district court’s ruling, but explained that MTM will need to prove that a consumers are confused. REVERSED and REMANDED.

Advanced Search