On April 22, 1999, the Ninth Circuit added a new twist to the growing case law of Internet trademark infringement when it issued its ruling in Brookfield Communications, Inc. v. West Coast Entertainment Corporation. [FOOTNOTE 1] Brookfieldinvolves a fact pattern that has become quite common: use of a federally registered trademark (or a similar derivation thereof) in an Internet domain name by a company other than the owner of the mark. The Brookfielddecision held that use of another’s trademarked terms as metatags — code words embedded within Web sites that visitors to the site never see — can constitute trademark infringement. This decision is a victory for trademark owners, though it highlights that owners must be vigilant to ensure that the goodwill encompassed in their marks is not usurped by competitors’ Web sites.
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