An American Horror Story
etoy, an international art group, has been sued by EToys, an American multi billion dollar internet toy company for trademark infringement claiming that the art group?s name is too close to its own. Etoys the toy company has defamed the international art group etoy by calling them criminal, hackers, pornographers and terrorists.
On November 29, 1999 a Los Angeles Superior Court judge responded to eToys' lawsuit by issuing a preliminary injunction, preventing the award-winning Internet artists, etoy, from using their www.etoy.com Web site. and preventing them from offering and selling etoy.SHARES in the United States of America. Both etoys and etoy do business on line. As far as I understand and as mentioned in the Morning Edition on National Public Radio on December 13 by Megan Gray an expert in internet and intellectual property law, trademark infringement requires companies to have substantially similar names and for those companies to have substantially similar goods and services. I fail to see that etoy sells toys online. Regarding the question of first come first served and domain names, etoy.com have been on the net since 1995 and were founded in 1994. Etoys, the world's leading online toy retailer, was founded in 1996 and registered the name etoys.com in 1997 and owns the trademark.
Etoys the toy company decided that the similar web address of the international art group was confusing their customers and took legal action leading to the preliminary decision made in the California court, which in turn has lead to the loss of the artists domain name, restrictions placed on their etoy.share art project and subsequently the loss of their email addresses as well. (Network Solutions, the company that maintains the master list of internet addresses (domains) has blocked email service to etoy.com, though this was not mandated by the injunction.) Apparently Network Solutions does this when domain names are under investigation. Etoy has been isolated by this action from the supportive internet community: restricting the etoy.email addreses was not a part of the official court decision and compromises the fundamental rights of speech, expression, organization and self defense. We fail to see the legality of this Network Solutions action. Network Solutions has said they are "unable" to reach etoy in Zurich.
The preliminary injunction of the California court represents a legal precedence: an ebusinesss giant is restricting the very existence of an art company. There is no business overlap here as I have already stated.
This case merely demonstrates who has the right to conduct business, operate, express themselves and exist in cyberspace. The legalities of this court case are obviously under discussion as well, not only because it is yet another case of "cash driven justice".
The artists currently run operations from Europe and remain there today.
The next decision will be made December 27, 1999, again in the California court, where the etoy art group has been requested to provide an exhaustive amount of documentation, as well as appearing in person.
This court case has obviously received a great deal of attention both in America and around the world for it deals with freedom on the internet and through this case we can see an American State court regulating the wide-open international landscape of the internet, of art.
Etoy has created a crisis advisory board of international experts, of which I am the director, to assist with the development of this court case and to help etoy retain its intellectual and internet property. Etoy does not and will not be involved in any action which is illegal or harmful to any person or institution. Etoy simply wants to exist as before as a meaningful and creative art project. Etoy has never intended to interfere with the business of internet toy retailers.
Etoy will not engage with traditional means, etoy will not hack or aggress the etoys or other opponents that attempt to destroy our territory and intellectual and cultural property, however through this current process etoy has continued to infect the world with the etoy message: the message has broken through the glass doors of the museum, through the computer monitors and hit the streets, the newspapers, CNN, the business news, the television. The stocks, the court judges, the activitists, the riots, the MOMA, the advisors, the netizens, the world has transformed the etoy idealogy into a reality. The surreal has become real.
Hacking reality???? This is the etoy value