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Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Terri Welles, Inc.

United States District Court for the Southern District of California
78 F. Supp. 1066 (1999)


Facts

Terri Welles (defendant) was chosen by Playboy (plaintiff) to be the 1981 Playboy Playmate of the Year. Welles operated a personal website where she advertised photos for sale and promoted her services as a spokesperson. In metatags for the website, Welles included terms such as Playboy and Playmate. Metatags are descriptions in a website’s code that tell search engines what content can be found on that website. Playboy sued Welles, arguing that Welles had infringed Playboy’s trademarks by using the marks in her metatags. Specifically, Playboy argued that using its mark in metatags would cause a likelihood of confusion among Internet users. Playboy relied on the theory of initial-interest confusion, which is a confusion of consumer attention. With initial-interest confusion, the consumer is confused about which websites to pay attention to, even though the consumer is not actually confused about the correct sponsor of the website after reaching the website.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Keep, J.)

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