SPG to Appeal in mySimon Lawsuit

The trademark infringement fight going on in federal court between CNET’s
mySimon.com e-shopping comparison site and real estate trust
Simon Property Group Inc. is a nasty battle indeed, replete with dueling
press releases spinning the story this way or that.

First, mySimon crowed
in its release
that a federal district court judge in Indianapolis
reduced a jury verdict against mySimon from $26.8 million to $50,010.

But then, shopping mall operator SPG issued a statement of its
own saying that the court ordered mySimon “to cease the use of its name, its
‘Simon’ character and its mySimon.com Web site.”

mySimon rather downplayed that latter in its release, saying that: “In
addition, the court ruled that if the jury’s verdict on trademark
infringement is upheld on appeal, mySimon will be required to change its name
and Web address, but ruled that no changes are required until after all
appeals are exhausted.”

In other words, mySimon is at risk of losing its identity, but may not have
to pay out the big bucks. “May” is the operational word in the preceding
statement, as SPG said in its release that “We intend to vigorously pursue an
appeal of those portions of the judgment relating to damages.”

SPG said in its statement that the court rulings “upheld jury findings that
mySimon intentionally adopted a name confusingly similar to the company’s
trademark ‘Simon’ name.”

“Our primary objective in bringing this litigation against mySimon was to
stop their ongoing, willful infringement of the Simon trademark and to
eliminate the resulting confusion in the marketplace caused by their use of
our name,” SPG said in its press release. “We are very pleased that the
jury’s original finding of intentional infringement was upheld and that the
court has issued an injunction which will ultimately protect the company’s
use of the ‘Simon’ name without infringement by one of its competitors.

“We are dismayed, however, that the court has decided to reduce the original
$26.8 million damage award to a nominal sum even though the jury concluded,
after hearing extensive arguments and carefully considering all the evidence,
that mySimon engaged in willful infringement over a several year period and
reaped substantial profits from its $700 million acquisition by CNET.

Simon Property filed the infringement suit in August 1999.

“We are pleased that the judge recognized that the damages award was
excessive and that he has elected to allow us to continue with our business
as usual pending appeal, which the judge acknowledges ‘will present
substantial questions’,” said Josh Goldman, president of mySimon, in its
press release.

“While we are very appreciative of this ruling, we still
believe that the fundamental determination by the jury that we infringed
SPG’s trademark is not supported by the law or the facts, and accordingly
plan to appeal that aspect of the decision as well as the requirement that we
change our name.”

CNET is a direct competitor of Internet.com, parent company of this Web site.

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