March 18, 1997 1:15 PM ET
Digital wins injunction in AltaVista legal snit
By Charles Cooper

  Will the real AltaVista please stand up?

Digital Equipment Corp. said today it had won a preliminary injunction prohibiting AltaVista Technology Inc. from using the AltaVista trademark on its Web site.

In an announcement this morning, Digital said the decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts means that ATI cannot use the AltaVista trademark in ways that create an impression that ATI's Web site is connected to Digital's Internet search engine.

The court ruling means that ATI must "prominently" display a disclaimer on every page of its Web site that the two companies are not affiliated. The disclaimer must also note that there's no connection between ATI and AltaVista Internet Software Inc. or the AltaVista Search Service.

The ATI site now includes those disclaimers.

Digital said it bought ATI's rights to the AltaVista trademark in March 1996 and then licensed its use back to the company for use in ATI's full corporate name and in its Web site address, www.altavista.com.

However, Digital said the license agreement prohibited ATI from using "AltaVista" as the name of a product or service offering. Digital first sued ATI last October, alleging breach of trademark licensing agreement, trademark and service mark infringement, unfair competition, and trademark dilution.

"This is in force until the conclusion of the case," said Digital spokesman Patrick Ward. "There's only one AltaVista, and the court decided that there was evidence in our favor, and we believe we're likely to succeed."

Digital is asking for unspecified damages. Ward declined to comment on whether the two sides had attempted to reach an out-of-court agreement.

Kaye Wolf Jones, vice president of marketing with ATI, declined comment, saying the company had not yet seen the statement from Digital.

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