Servicemaster, et al. v. Virga

Internet Free Speech — Use of Brand Names
Press Releases:
Case Description: 

Servicemaster, a company based in Memphis, and the parent company of Terminix, filed suit against Virga, a resident of Yuba City California, over her use of the two companies’ names in the meta tags of her web site featuring information about consumer complaints against the two companies (and other Servicemaster subsidiaries). Plaintiff also sought a preliminary injunction. Public Citizen opposed the preliminary injunction and moved to dismiss, arguing that the court lacked personal jursidiction, that the trademark laws did not bar the truthful use of trademarks in meta tags to denote the content of a non-commercial gripe site about the trademark holders, and that the suite was protected by the First Amendment. When the district court issued an order indicating that she was considering treating the motion to dismiss as a summary judgment motion, because it was supported by affidavits, plaintiff dismissed the action before the Rules of Civil Procedure barred voluntary dismissal on the ground that a summary judgment motion had been filed.