Digital Wins round in AltaVista trademark dispute

Digital Equipment Corp. has won a battle in its AltaVista trademark infringement lawsuit against AltaVista Technology Inc. (ATI). A US District Court has ordered ATI not to use Digital's trademark 'in a way that creates the false impression that ATI's Web site is Digital's AltaVista Search Service.'

Digital Equipment Corp. has won a battle in its AltaVista trademark infringement lawsuit against AltaVista Technology Inc. (ATI).

On March 12, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts ordered ATI not to use Digital's trademark "in a way that creates the false impression that ATI's Web site is Digital's AltaVista Search Service."

In October, Digital filed suit against ATI, alleging that it has infringed on the trademark in a way that confuses advertisers and Web users. About a year ago, DEC bought the rights for the AltaVista trademark from ATI, and licensed ATI to use the trademark for its complete corporate name and its Internet domain name address only, says Digital spokesman Patrick Ward.

Judge Nancy Gertner's ruling requires ATI to prominently display the following disclaimer on every page of its Web site: "AltaVista Technology Inc. is not affiliated with Digital Equipment Corporation, AltaVista Internet Software Inc. or the AltaVista Search Service. The AltaVista Internet Search Service may be found at http://altavista.digital.com."

According to a Digital statement, Judge Gertner's ruling found that by May of 1996, "ATI dramatically changed the appearance of its Web site, moving it markedly closer to the appearance of Digital's AltaVista Web site. ... In short, a visitor to ATI's site could easily have the impression that they were actually at Digital's AltaVista site. ... By October 28, 1996, ATI's Web site was designed to look, feel and function very much like Digital's AltaVista Web site. At the same time, ATI derived revenues from the site and its ties to Digital's AltaVista. It displayed banner ads and solicited other advertisers, who could get information about how they, too, could reach millions of users everyday by advertising on ATI's Web site."

The court ruling also prohibits ATI from using the AltaVista trademark or service mark to identify any product or service offering; linking its Web page to Digital's AltaVista Search Service in a way that creates the false impression that ATI's Web site is Digital's AltaVista Search service; and infringing or diluting in any manner the AltaVista mark or making any unauthorized use of the AltaVista mark.

Digital can be reached on the World Wide Web at http://www.dec.com/. AltaVista Technology, and on the World Wide Web at http://www.altavista.com/.

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