TrafficSchool.com, Inc., et al. v. Edriver Inc., et al., No. 08-56518 (9th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs claimed that defendants, owners and managers of a for-profit website called DMV.org, violated federal and state unfair competition and false advertising laws by actively fostering the belief that DMV.org was an official state DMV website, or was affiliated or endorsed by a state DMV. The district court held that defendants violated section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a), but rejected plaintiffs' claim under California's unfair competition statute. The district court issued an injunction ordering DMV.org to present every site visitor with a splash screen bearing a disclaimer and denied monetary relief and an award of attorney's fees to plaintiffs. Both sides appealed. The court held that plaintiffs had established sufficient injury for Article III standing and that plaintiffs had met both prongs of the test in Jack Russell Terrier Network of Northern California v. American Kennel Club, Inc. for Lanham Act standing. The court held that the district court committed no error in holding that defendants violated the Lanham Act but remanded for the district court to reconsider the duration of the splash screen in light of any intervening changes in the website's content and marketing practices, as well as the dissipation of the deception resulting from past practices. The court held that the district court did not err in denying damages. The court held that because the district court erred in finding that defendants'c conduct was not exceptional and that plaintiffs had unclean hands, its denial of attorney's fees was an abuse of discretion. Therefore, the court remanded for the district court to consider the award of attorney's fees anew. The court held that the district court's findings that defendants were jointly and severally liable were not clearly erroneous. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to hold DMV.org in contempt for technical breaches of the injunction. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part, remanding with instructions.