A trademark owner's reports of infringing goods to an online auction's anti-infringement program were privileged under California law, a district court ruled. The court dismissed the defamation claims of a seller whose auctions were removed from the site and whose account was suspended for a period of time as a result of the trademark owner's reports. The court found that both the online auction site and the trademark owner had an interest in preventing counterfeiting and trademark infringement, and that the reports were made without malice and in furtherance of that interest, therefore they fell within the statutory privilege under Cal. Civ. Code § 47(c). The court similarly dismissed the seller's claims of intentional and negligent interference with prospective advantage, because, among other reasons, with the dismissal of his defamation claims, the seller could not show any wrongful conduct on the part of the trademark owner.

Tommy Bahama Group, Inc. v. Sexton, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112452 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 3, 2009) (opinion of magistrate judge) Download PDF