IP That Goes Around Comes Around

Author:Mr Gregory Sapire
Profession:Hughes & Luce LLP

That's not punny, it's trademark infringement. In a ruling last week, a German court prohibited the owners of the domain names Gnutella.de and Newtella.de from using their sites based on a likelihood of confusion with the popular European nougat treat, Nutella, that many use as a bread spread like peanut butter.

Gnutella, pronounced just like the bread spread, is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol that allows users access to one another's music, photos and other files and is widely considered an alternative to Napster's file-sharing service. Court papers indicate that Ferrero, maker of Gnutella and the world's third largest candy producer after Nestle and Mars, brought suit based on fears that "millions of Internet users would associate the word 'Nutella' with a virtual conglomerate of copyright pirates and friends of child pornography, rather than the family-oriented nougat spread." The German court agreed and has forced the owners of Gnutella.de and Newtella.de to stop operating their sites under these URLs.

Thus far, Ferrero appears to have contacted only the holders of German-registered domain names similar to its Nutella product. Fans of Gnutella with equally homophonic domain names registered...

To continue reading