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In Internet First Amendment Lawsuit, Printer Company Backs Down, Allows Saleof Compatible Products on eBay

In Internet First Amendment Lawsuit, Printer Company Backs Down, Allows Saleof Compatible Products on eBay

Settlement Victory Benefits Online Consumers and Small Internet Merchants

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a victory for Internet free speech, the printer manufacturer Dymo Corp. has agreed not to interfere with a Florida resident’s right to inform consumers on eBay that he is selling compatible computer printer labels not manufactured by Dymo Corp. and states that it has taken steps to ensure that it will not interfere with similar sales in the future.

    In today’s settlement with Rene F. Mohl of Ponce Inlet, Fla., Dymo Corp. agreed that terminating the listing of compatible labels merely because they accurately state that they are compatible with Dymo printers is improper and that it will not terminate any of Mohl’s future eBay listings for this reason. The company also agreed to compensate Mohl for lost sales.

    The online auction site eBay terminated Mohl’s auctions in January 2006 after Dymo claimed that the listing and sales of Mohl’s labels infringed upon Dymo’s trademarks and voided consumers’ printer warranties. After Mohl removed all mention of Dymo in the description of his less expensive labels in response to Dymo’s lawsuit threats, his sales plummeted. Public Citizen filed suit against Dymo on April 24, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida to protect Internet consumers and the First Amendment right of eBay sellers to truthfully describe their products.

    Printer companies frequently invoke trademark law to terminate the eBay sales of compatible and often less expensive products such as labels and ink cartridges. Small eBay sellers, who do not have the resources to defend themselves from the intellectual property claims of big corporations, are often forced to capitulate to avoid costly litigation.

    “This settlement is a victory for small-scale entrepreneurs and consumers on the Internet,” said Greg Beck, the Public Citizen attorney representing Mohl. “In agreeing to take steps to avoid similar harassment, Dymo has provided other companies with a positive model on how to co-exist with Internet sellers.” 

    C. Richard Newsome and Andrew Knopf, of the firm Newsome & Didier, P.A. in Orlando, Fla., served as local counsel for Mohl.

    Public Citizen has a record of defending the First Amendment rights of Internet users. To learn more, visit https://www.citizen.org/our-work/litigation/articles/internet-free-speech

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