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Simon Says Stop; mySimon Says Appeal

An Indianapolis jury has awarded commercial real estate giant Simon Property Group $26.8 million in damages in its trademark infringement case against mySimon.com.

The verdict, which was rendered in federal district court, found that the mark of mySimon.com, the online comparison shopping site, infringes on the mark of the real estate investment trust.

The decision is a troubling one for the online community, noted Diane Cabell, trademark law expert and fellow at Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

"This ruling allows a local organization to leverage itself into a set of global rights," she said. "Right now, the only one allowed to use anything that looks like 'Simon' is Simon Property Group. They did not have that right in physical space.

"The decision is wrong and it is inappropriate," she said. "This is handing someone marketing power that there is no justification for."

Simon Property filed the infringement suit in August 1999 in the Southern District of Indiana. In October 1999, Simon Property moved for a temporary restraining order prohibiting MySimon from operating using the 'Simon' mark. However, that motion was denied. Since then, mySimon has become a subsidiary of CNET, which competes with the parent of this website, internet.com.

In a statement, mySimon said it plans to appeal the decision.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company added the decision was not supported by either law or facts. "We were obviously very surprised and disappointed by the finding," noted Josh Goldman, chief executive officer of mySimon.com.

The judge presiding over the case has not yet entered judgment on the jury's verdict nor ruled on Simon Property Group's request that MySimon relinquish its name.



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