Nominative fair — the “unauthorized” use of a trademark as a trademark specifically to invoke the trademark, as opposed to its “non-trademark” use to describe the alleged infringer’s goods or services use — has now come East, courtesy of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium Inc. v. Security University LLC.
Let’s call this bumbling, cumbersome caption by the short title, “Security University.”
The opinion (link here) (hat tip to Law360) is an important one for a couple of reasons, of which the ruling on nominative fair use is certainly the more important one. As Bill Donahue’s Law360 piece explains:
The ruling came in a clash between a small IT security company called Security University LLC and the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium Inc. over whether company misused the organization’s “Certified Information Systems Security Professional” certification mark in advertising its services.
In particular — get this — the defendant was going around calling one of its trainers a “Master” of this particular techie domain, and just wouldn’t stop:
ISC2 objects to some of 1 SU’s advertisements, run between 2010 and 2012, which, ISC2 argues, misleadingly suggested that SU’s instructor, Clement Dupuis, had attained some higher level of certification as a “Master CISSP” or “CISSP Master.” . . .
SU began using the term “Master” 1 in May 2010. On June 9, 2010, ISC2’s counsel wrote to Schneider asking that she cease using the phrase “Master CISSP” in SU’s advertisements. On June 13, 2010, Schneider emailed Marc Thompson, an employee of a third party entity that oversees seminars on ISC2’s behalf, stating that “SU will continue to use the word Master. Master Clement Dupuis is a Male Teacher [and] thus he is a Master according to the dictionary.”
“He is a Master according to the dictionary.”