ISP denied trademark infringement immunity

A federal district court decision has narrowly interpreted the immunity provisions set out in the Communications Decency Act, which were designed to insulate internet service providers (ISPs) and other "interactive computer service providers" from liability for certain illegal or wrongful actions of their users.

In Ford Motor Co v Inc the defendant filed a supplemental motion to dismiss, pursuant to the immunity provisions of the Communications Decency Act. The motion was filed to supplement GreatDomain's pending motion to dismiss under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

The relevant part of the Communications Decency Act provides as follows:

"No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that interactive computer service providers are not immune from claims of trademark infringement. In the ruling, the court cited Section 230 of the act, which expressly provides that "nothing in [this section] shall be construed to limit or expand any law pertaining to intellectual property". Judge Cleland ruled that this language "unambiguously precludes application of [the section's] grant of immunity" in this case.

Chris Gibson, Steptoe & Johnson Rakisons, London

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