Sunday, November 28, 2010

9th Circuit decides that "naked licensing" led to abandonment of mark

The 9th Circuit recently decided that "“The Freecycle Network"—a non-profit organization facilitating the free re-use of unwanted items by others—abandoned the mark FREECYCLE because it failed to exert adequate quality control over its loose network of local affiliates.

The court based its conclusion on the facts that: (1) there was no express licensing agreement between the main organization and its affiliates; (2) a directive to affiliates not to use the mark "for commercial purposes" didn’t constitute an implied license; (3) a one sentence ethics standard and voluntary "etiquette guidelines" did not constitute actual control over the affiliates; and (4) the main organization could not have reasonably relied on the affiliate’s own quality control standards (if any) because there was no evidence of a "close working relationship" between the two.

The case is Freecycle Sunnyvale v. The Freecycle Network, No. 08-16382 (9th Cir. Nov. 24, 2010).

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