Eric Goldman covers a recent lawsuit where Heartbrand Beef, Inc. sued several companies, including Yahoo, for selling the keyword “Akaushi” to Lobel’s of New York. Akaushi is a very expensive Japanese type of beef, known for being marbled with fat and coming out extremely tender.
Lobel’s does not sell Akaushi, but Heartbrand is the largest Akaushi cattle company outside of Japan and they felt that Lobel’s was being deceitful with their ads at Yahoo. Heartbrand also felt Yahoo allowing the ad “constituted Lanham Act false designation of origin and common law unfair competition,” said Goldman.
The court felt the suit did not make sense, they said, “Yahoo! obviously does not fit into these classic models [of false designation of origin] because Yahoo! is not in the business of selling beef.” And they reject the claim because “(1) Yahoo doesn’t make any “statement” (the advertiser does), and (2) even if Yahoo does make a statement, it’s not designating the origin of Yahoo’s offerings,” said Goldman.