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Toyota Motor Sales v. Tabari

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
610 F.3d 1171 (2010)


Facts

Farzad and Lisa Tabari (defendants) were auto brokers. As auto brokers, the Tabaris contacted authorized dealers, solicited bids, and arranged for customers to buy from whichever dealer was offering the best combination of location, availability, and price. The Tabaris specialized in Lexus vehicles and operated two websites: buy-a-lexus.com and buyorleaselexus.com. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. (Toyota) (plaintiff) owned the Lexus trademark. Toyota was the exclusive distributor of Lexus vehicles and spent over $250 million per year to promote the brand. Toyota notified the Tabaris that Toyota objected to the Tabaris’ use of the Lexus trademark. Specifically, Toyota objected to the use of copyrighted photographs, the L-Symbol Design mark, and the word Lexus in the Tabaris’ website names. The Tabaris responded by removing the photographs and logo and placing a disclaimer on the websites. However, the Tabaris did not abandon their website names. Toyota sued the Tabaris for trademark infringement. The trial court ruled that the Tabaris were infringing on Toyota’s trademark and ordered the Tabaris to cease operating the websites that used the Lexus trademark in the website name. The Tabaris appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Kozinski, C.J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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