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The Courts

Court Finds "Pinning" On the Internet To Be Fair Use (docketalarm.com) 53

speedplane writes: Pinterest has always aggressively defended their trademarks, but in 2013, they launched a trademark lawsuit against Pintrips, a travel planning startup that allows users to "pin" and share information about flights. Yesterday, however, a federal court issued a major ruling against Pinterest finding that "pinning" is a feature, not a trademark, and therefore is fair use. This seems to bode well for the many other "pinning" sites on the internet.
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Court Finds "Pinning" On the Internet To Be Fair Use

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  • Pin??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @04:16PM (#50783735) Homepage

    How is "pinning" any different from any other type of hyperlink?

    • Re: Pin??? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jonbryce ( 703250 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @04:20PM (#50783779) Homepage

      It is a trademark case, not a patent case. They wouldn't have complained if they had used another word to describe it. By the way, fair use relates to copyright, so the court almost certainly didn't rule it was fair use, they probably ruled that "pinning" is a generic word.

      • Re: Pin??? (Score:5, Informative)

        by speedplane ( 552872 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @04:27PM (#50783827) Homepage

        fair use relates to copyright, so the court almost certainly didn't rule it was fair use

        There is fair use in trademark too. Here's the quote from the judge (page 35):

        After weighing the evidence presented at trial and considering the arguments made by the parties, the Court concludes that Pintrips satisfies the first two elements of the fair use analysis in that it uses the term pin “otherwise than as a mark” and “only to describe [its] goods or services.” 15 U.S.C. 1115(b)(4).

      • Re: Pin??? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Theaetetus ( 590071 ) <theaetetus.slash ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday October 22, 2015 @06:16PM (#50784427) Homepage Journal

        It is a trademark case, not a patent case. They wouldn't have complained if they had used another word to describe it. By the way, fair use relates to copyright, so the court almost certainly didn't rule it was fair use, they probably ruled that "pinning" is a generic word.

        Both trademark and copyright have fair use doctrines, though I agree with you that I believe Subby meant the copyright one, in error. At the least, it's somewhat misleading because it implies that the court ruled that putting a snippet of something online was fair use from copyright infringement, which wasn't an issue.

        In trademark, fair use is what allows us to say "Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy, noted anti-vax denier" - we're using Playboy's trademarks, but only to name the source and in a minimal way.

        Here, this was really about whether "pinning" is a merely descriptive term for providing links and snippets. And yeah, it goes back to scrapbooking and certainly is just a descriptive term.

      • But can a verb have its "use by others" legally restricted ? (copyright/patent/trademark/whatever)

        I can understand a slight possibility if it is a term that becomes a verb (ie, googling) but pinning has been in use for ages as a "stick something in place somewhere" type word/action ...

    • The contention comes from the verbiage. Pinterest doesn't like other companies calling their links "pins".
    • How is "pinning" any different from any other type of hyperlink?

      Shhhhhhh, don't speak out against our Corporate Masters and the Benevolent Commercial Guardians of common words, Citizen!

    • Here in the south, we still use 'em fer writin'. Them that can write, I mean.
    • How is "pinning" any different from any other type of hyperlink?

      It uses a metaphor, so its basic usage is inherently easier to understand.

      Non-developers greatly benefit from applying metaphors to computing elements in order to get how they are expected to be handled, and what are the implications of their extended . "A pinboard with clips of web pages" is much more intuitive than "a database of hyperlinks", even if they're technically the same.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Setting aside whether trademarks actually advance anything but the lawyers' wallets, Pinterest should have simply focused on "Pintrips", and complained about the similar name of the site, instead. That probably would have got them somewhere.

    • Good point. Plus, it gets to the heart of what trademarks are for - unique and reliable identification of a business or brand. Had the article not been how I learned about Pintrips, then based on the name I would have assumed Pinterest expanded their business. Especially if the sites looked similar.
  • Meanwhile, Windows declared Open Source.

  • Copyright? (Score:4, Informative)

    by voidstin ( 51561 ) on Thursday October 22, 2015 @05:52PM (#50784301)
    Does anyone else find it ironic that a site that is all about grabbing content from others (that may or may not actually own the content to begin with) going to court to defend a copyright on a standard english word?
    • by colinwb ( 827584 )
      Well said.

      Also: I don't know how well known the late playwright Harold Pinter is on Slashdot. There is an adjective "pinteresque".

      Definition of Pinteresque in English: [oxforddictionaries.com] adjective - Of or relating to Harold Pinter; resembling or characteristic of his plays. Pinter's plays are typically characterized by implications of threat and strong feeling produced through colloquial language, apparent triviality, and long pauses.
      Origin: 1960s; earliest use found in The Times. From the name of Harold Pinter, British
      • Well said. Also: I don't know how well known the late playwright Harold Pinter is on Slashdot. There is an adjective "pinteresque". Definition of Pinteresque in English: [oxforddictionaries.com] adjective - Of or relating to Harold Pinter; resembling or characteristic of his plays. Pinter's plays are typically characterized by implications of threat and strong feeling produced through colloquial language, apparent triviality, and long pauses. Origin: 1960s; earliest use found in The Times. From the name of Harold Pinter, British playwright + -esque. Note the similarity of the sounds of "pinteresque" and "pinterest". Surely a creative lawyer could make something of that?

        I can't really see how a site called "Pinteresque" is going to overlap with "Pinterest" much. Fans of Harold Pinter probably aren't going to use "Pinteresque" to post links to cookie recipes and knitting patterns.

  • Pintrips and PInterest do seem at least similar enough that I could imagine some people assume they're related. Granted, we'd be getting pretty close to the "moron in a hurry" which seems to be the test, but I don't think we're quite at that level.
  • I'm pretty sure it's a verb...

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