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Coming to a theater near you — the wrath of Godzilla being visited upon … Dave Linabury. Indeed, Toho Co. Ltd., a Japanese retail and entertainment company that owns the Godzilla trademark, has demanded that Linabury’s Davezilla.com small humor Web site cease and desist use of its domain name because of alleged trademark infringement. So far, Dave has resisted Godzilla’s wrath. THE DEMAND Toho’s Los Angeles lawyers recently sent a demand letter to Davezilla.com. Davezilla.com is a long-running personal and humor site. The site posts daily various written and cartoon items, as well as word games. The demand letter begins by stating that Toho is the owner of all rights in and to the trademark and service mark Godzilla and the Godzilla characters. Toho notes that Godzilla and the likeness of the Godzilla character are federally registered trademarks belonging to Toho. Toho asserts that through its “long, exclusive and continuous” use of the Godzilla marks with respect to Godzilla films and related products and services, the Godzilla marks “are recognized by the consuming public as identifying Toho, its films, and related goods and services.” Toho adds that it has built up valuable goodwill and reputation in the Godzilla character and has spent vast sums of money in developing a line of licensed products sold under the Godzilla mark. The demand letter states that Toho has become informed that Davezilla.com has incorporated the zilla portion of Toho’s Godzilla marks in the name of Davezilla.com and that the Web site has used a reptile-like character and a monster-like character. Toho then asserts that this supposed use of the Godzilla mark constitutes trademark infringement and “confuses consumers and the public into believing that your ‘Godzilla’ character originates from Toho.” Toho further claims that the use of the zilla suffix along with imagery associated with Godzilla “is likely to cause the users of your site to believe that the Davezilla.com website is either associated with, authorized by, or sponsored by [Toho], and demonstrates an attempt by you to trade on the goodwill built up by [Toho].” Toho then demands that Davezilla.com “remove the objectionable imagery and reference to Godzilla from your website to eliminate any likelihood of confusion and possibility of an inaccurate affiliation with Toho and Godzilla.” Toho insisted on a response by August 16. DAVEZILLA.COM LIVES Davezilla.com has not changed much in the wake of Toho’s Godzilla demand. While the site now states that it is not affiliated with Toho, David Linabury has announced his intention not to change the imagery on the site, and the domain name still includes the zilla suffix. It is not clear whether Toho will take any further action. IMPLICATIONS It has been reported that about 1,000 other domain names include “zilla” in the suffix. Apparently, Toho has gone after a small player here in an attempt to achieve some momentum in rooting out zilla suffix domains. Toho has not gone after a large player, such as AOL Time Warner, that has sponsored the Mozilla open-source development project. Even with respect to Davezilla.com, hopefully Toho will back off. At the end of the day, it is difficult to envision consumer confusion between Toho and Dave. Indeed, Davezilla.com does not even sell any products or services on its site. Eric J. Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris, where he focuses on technology and litigation matters. His Web site is sinrodlaw.com and his firm’s site is www.duanemorris.com. Sinrod may be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

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