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Pinterest Inc. v. Pintrips Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division

February 14, 2014

PINTEREST INC., Plaintiff,
v.
PINTRIPS INC., Defendant

Page 993

For Pinterest, Inc., Plaintiff: Lawrence J. Siskind, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lawrence Jay Siskind, Donald A Thompson, Harvey Siskind LLP, San Francisco, CA.

For Pintrips, Inc., Defendant: Frank L. Bernstein, LEAD ATTORNEY, Kenyon & Kenyon LLP, Palo Alto, CA.

OPINION

Page 994

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS

RICHARD SEEBORG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

I. INTRODUCTION

In this dispute between two entities offering online bookmarking services, plaintiff Pinterest Inc. asserts claims for relief under federal and state law for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution, and unfair competition. Defendant Pintrips Inc. moves to dismiss the complaint in its entirety, arguing Pinterest has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The central thrust of Pintrips' motion is the contention tat Pinterest cannot, as a matter of law, seek to exclude others from using the term " pin." In particular, Pintrips argues that " pin" is generic and therefore not entitled to protection under federal or state trademark law. Because deciding whether a mark is generic requires a fact-specific inquiry that generally is premature at the pleading stage, Pintrips' motion must be denied.

II. BACKGROUND [1]

A. Pinterest

Pinterest, an entity founded in early 2010, provides online services through its website, www.pinterest.com.[2] Pinterest's web-based platform allows users to accumulate images and other content, which the user organizes into themed " boards." In addition to posting content to their own boards, Pinterest users can browse other users' boards to seek out content that interests them. By enabling users to post, share, and browse content, Pinterest " provides a way for people to express themselves, discover new things, and engage with the people who create them." (Compl. ¶ 8).

A " pin," according to Pinterest, is the platform's " foundational element." (Compl. ¶ 9). Each piece of content posted on Pinterest is known as a " pin." Users, in turn, are referred to as " pinners." According to Pinterest, the " Pin It" button has played an important role in the site's success. In addition to appearing on Pinterest's website, the " Pin It" button can be found on hundreds of thousands of other websites across the Internet. More specifically, the button appears alongside content -- e.g., photographs, articles, for-sale items -- displayed on various websites. By clicking the " Pin It" button when browsing

Page 995

other websites, Pinterest users can add content directly to their own Pinterest boards. Therefore, in addition to " pinning" content found on other users' boards, Pinterest users employ the " Pin It" button to " pin" items found elsewhere on the internet.

Although its users post and share a wide variety of content, Pinterest claims to have made a " particularly big splash" when it comes to travel-based content. (Compl. ¶ 13). The complaint avers that, to date, Pinterest users have posted more than 660 million " pins" in Pinterest's " Travel" category. Id. " Many people use Pinterest as a travel-planning tool -- for example, to collect inspiration for upcoming trips[.]" Id. Allegedly due to the platform's popularity in the " area of travel," numerous airlines, hotels, resorts, travel planning ...


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