Appeals court reverses itself, gives Amazon a trademark win over watchmaker

Amazon corporate office building in Sunnyvale, California. (credit: Getty Images)

A panel of federal appeals judges has taken the unusual step of reversing a position it reached just three months ago when it decided Amazon must face a trademark lawsuit due to search results it produced related to a watch.

In a superseding opinion (PDF) published Wednesday, the same three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit says that Amazon’s search results aren’t likely to produce the consumer confusion anticipated by watchmaker Multi Time Machine. “[B]ecause the page clearly labeled the name and manufacturer of each product offered for sale and even included photographs of the items, no reasonably prudent shopper accustomed to shopping online would likely be confused as to the source of the products,” wrote Judge Barry Silverman for the majority.

Circuit Judge Carlos Bea dissented from the opinion, and voted against having a rehearing at all. The judge who appears to have changed his views is Gordon Quist, a senior judge from the Western District of Michigan who was sitting on the panel by designation.

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