July 2, 2008, 12:00 AM

CafePress and publisher settle trademark infringement suit

CafePress.com, an online retailer of customer-generated products, has settled a lawsuit brought by the publisher of adult magazine Hustler. At issue was use of the word “hustler” in images created by users.

Mark Brohan

Research Director

CafePress.com, an online retailer of customer-generated products, such as T-shirts and coffee mugs, has settled a lawsuit brought by Larry Flynt Publications Inc., or LFP, the publisher of Hustler adult magazine, web media and products. At issue was use of the word “hustler” and other specific words and phrases featured in images created by CafePress.com users.

The suit, filed last year in Los Angeles Federal Court, raised legal issues surrounding user-generated content. In resolving the case out of court, CafePress says it agreed to remove certain user-generated content from its web site. “This resolution is a great example of a large rights holder and an Internet service provider reaching a non-monetary compromise that balances the rights of a trademark holder with the fair-use rights of the users,” CafePress says.

LFP filed the suit after discovering that users of the CafePress service had created and uploaded images using the word “hustler,” which could have been printed on various types of products, without authorization from LFP. The CafePress platform enables customers to upload user-generated content and they can sell that content by customizing products with their content.

In the future, LFP and CafePress intend to avoid litigating disputes arising from user-generated content by finding ways to address objectionable content, says CafePress, No. 118 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

CafePress lets consumers design products, either for sale or for their own use, and provides an online marketplace serving both product designers who want to sell and shoppers seeking unique items.

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