La corresponsabilità della piattaforma per violazione di marchio nel diritto USA (sulla willful blindness nel contributory infringement)

Il prof. Eric Goldman segnala l’ appello del 9 circuito 24.07.2023, No. 21-56150, Brand Melville c. Redbubble.

Riporto il passo sull’elemento soggettivo in capo alla piattaforma (REdbubble) per ritenerla responsabile:

<Common to these cases is that willful blindness requires the defendant to be aware of specific instances of infringement or specific infringers. Without that knowledge, the defendant need not search for infringement. General knowledge of infringement on the defendant’s platform—even of the plaintiff’s trademarks—is not enough to show willful blindness. See Tiffany, 600 F.3d at 110 (“eBay appears to concede that it knew as a general matter that counterfeit Tiffany products were listed and sold through its website. . . . Without more, however, this knowledge is insufficient to trigger liability.”). We hold that willful blindness for contributory trademark liability requires the defendant to have specific knowledge of infringers or instances of infringement.
As for Brandy Melville’s contention that Redbubble had a duty to look for infringement, persuasive decisions from other circuits hold that the defendant has no such duty until it gains the specific knowledge necessary to trigger liability. “There is no inherent duty to look for infringement by others on one’s property.” Omega SA, 984 F.3d at 255; see also Hard Rock Cafe Licensing Corp. v. Concession Servs., Inc., 955 F.2d 1143, 1149 (7th Cir. 1992) (The willful blindness standard “does not impose any duty to seek out and prevent violations.”). Instead, willful blindness arises when a defendant was “made aware that there was infringement on its site but . . . ignored that fact.” Omega SA, 984 F.3d at 255 (quoting Tiffany, 600 F.3d at 110 n.15).
Once a defendant knows about specific instances of infringement, “bona fide efforts to root out infringement” could “support a verdict finding no liability, even if the defendant was not fully successful in stopping infringement.” Id. The duty to stop (or root out) infringement does not kick in, however, until the defendant has that specific knowledge. And, again, that duty only covers specific instances of infringement the defendant knows or has reason to know about. See Tiffany, 600 F.3d at 109–10 (holding that addressing specific notices of counterfeit Tiffany products was sufficient, even though eBay “knew as a general matter that counterfeit Tiffany products were listed and sold through its website.”) >>.

Ed allora quando ricorrono bona fide efforts?  <<What constitutes bona fide efforts will vary based on the context. For instance, a reasonable response for a flea market might not be reasonable for an online marketplace with millions of listings. Cf. Coach, Inc. v. Goodfellow, 717 F.3d 498, 504 (6th Cir. 2013) (affirming contributory liability where defendant, the owner and operator of a flea market, “had actual knowledge that the infringing activity was occurring” and knew of “particular vendors” that were infringing yet failed to “deny access to offending vendors or take other reasonable measures”). Removing infringing listings and taking appropriate action against repeat infringers in response to specific notices may well be sufficient to show that a large online marketplace was not willfully blind. See Tiffany, 600 F.3d at 109 (“[A]lthough [notices of claimed infringement] and buyer complaints gave eBay reason to know that certain sellers had been selling counterfeits, those sellers’ listings were removed and repeat offenders were suspended from the eBay site.”)>>.

Da noi va rileverebbe la possibilità di qualificare come colposa la condotta che concorre alla causazione del danno (art. 2043 cc): gli esiti, alla fine, non sarebbero molto distanti.

L’ambito oggettivo protetto è delineato dall’art. 20 c. 2 cpi