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The IQ Group, Ltd. v. Wiesner Publishing, LLC

409 F. Supp.2d 587 (D. N.J. 2006)

DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT — The Digital Millennium Copyright Act does not protect service marks because service marks do not come within the protections offered a copyright owner under the Act and to allow otherwise would blur the boundaries between trademark law and copyright law.

A company provided advertising services for insurance companies by sending out advertisements to insurance agents by e-mail. A particular insurance company retained the advertising agency to send out e-mail advertisements to insurance agents. The agency prepared an ad which displayed the insurance company’s logo and a hyperlink which, when clicked, directed the user to a page of the ad agency’s website that contained copyrighted information. The agency sent out the ads on behalf of the insurance company. Later, the insurance company retained a different supplier to send out e-mail advertisements on its behalf. The insurance company sent the competitor the advertisement distributed by the original advertising agency. The competitor copied the ad, removed the logo and hyperlink, inserted new information, and e-mailed the ads to insurance agents. The ad agency then registered its copyright for the ad, and filed suit against the insurance company and the competitor, claiming that they violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by removing the ad agency’s logo and hyperlink from the ad. The insurance company and competitor moved for summary judgment, arguing that the logo did not fall within the protections afforded under the DMCA. The Court agreed. It noted that the logo was a service mark, and held that allowing a service mark to come within the protections offered a copyright owner under the DMCA would blur the boundaries between trademark law and copyright law and would change the DMCA into a hybrid trademark/copyright law. The Court noted that there was no evidence that Congress intended such an extreme outcome when it enacted the DMCA. On that basis, it dismissed the ad agency’s claim. The Court also rejected the ad agency’s argument that its competitor violated Section 1202 of the DMCA by removing the logo and hyperlink. It noted that the DMCA does not directly protect copyrighted materials, but rather, it protects the technological processes that protect copyrighted materials. The Court found that there was no evidence that the ad agency intended to use the logo to manage its copyrights or that the logo was part of an automated copyright protection system. Therefore, the original ad agency’s claim under Section 1202 of the DMCA was dismissed as well.


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