Ninth Circuit Does About-Face

In its second appellate review of the same case, the Ninth Circuit has done an about-face. In its second review of the case the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit set aside its own ruling that found Amazon could face trial over allegations that it confused users by displaying the watches of competitors when they searched for Multi Time Machine (MTM) products through its marketplace. Judge Barry Silverman, writing for the majority, ruled that Amazon was not liable for trademark infringement because “there is no likelihood of confusion in Amazon’s use of MTM’s trademarks” because Amazon’s “clear labeling of the products it carries by brand name and model, accompanied by a photograph of the item, no rational trier could find that a customer accustomed to shopping online would likely be confused.”

Even though MTM’s watches are not sold through the Amazon marketplace, a search for “MTM Special Ops” yields competitors’ watches in results. On this basis, MTM filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement.

Dissenting from the opinion, Judge Carlos Bea argued that the Ninth Circuit does not have the authority to address MTM’s argument that a consumer might be confused into thinking a relationship exists between MTM and a competitor.

The opinion may be accessed here.


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