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America Online v. LCGM, Inc.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
46 F. Supp. 2d 444 (1998)


Facts

America Online (AOL) (plaintiff) operated an online service providing its members access to the Internet. AOL owned a trademark for “AOL” and registered the domain name “aol.com.” LCGM, Inc. (defendant) partnered with companies that offered pornographic websites. LCGM sent millions of unsolicited emails through AOL’s email system advertising the pornographic websites. In these emails, LCGM forged the domain name in the “from” line to read “@aol.com.” AOL sued LCGM for violation of the Lanham Act’s prohibition on falsely designating the origin of goods or services. AOL stated that it received more than 450,000 complaints about the emails from its members in the span of about five months. AOL presented evidence that its members were confused as to whether AOL sent or endorsed the advertising and pornographic products. AOL stated that it was forced to upgrade its technology at a significant cost as a result of LCGM’s conduct. AOL moved for summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lee, J.)

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