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Court stays Go injunction

Trial set for March

It looks as if Go.com’s green and yellow traffic light logo may be making a comeback. At least for the next 30 days.

On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stayed a preliminary injunction issued last week by U.S. District Court Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr.

Hatter had ordered Disney to stop using its Go Network logo until after a trial on the matter next year, agreeing with plaintiff GoTo.com that Disney’s logo was confusingly similar to its own. Hatter reasoned that GoTo.com, an Internet search engine, was likely to prevail in its claim and would suffer irreparable harm without an injunction.

The stay suspends Hatter’s order until an expedited appeal of the order, agreed to by both sides, is held in about 30 days.

That means Disney can use the old Go.com logo as it has been, plastering it across all of its Web sites, at the end of ABC TV shows and promotional products, including mousepads, if it so chooses.

Logo logic

But the media giant may not want to spend more time and money branding its old logo, in the event that it loses the case. The company has said it will be hit with damages ranging from $2 million to $40 million if it loses the logo. Since Monday, it has been using a replacement graphic on its properties.

Lawyers for Disney now have the next two weeks to file their briefs; reps for GoTo.com then have two weeks to respond with their own briefs. After that, the expedited appeal of Hatter’s decision will take place.

At that time, the appeals court will either overturn the preliminary injunction or uphold it. The actual trial is set to begin in March.

“The decision today is a procedural one and not a ruling on the merits of the case,” said attorney Pierce O’Donnell, who is representing GoTo.com. “We are confident that when the Ninth Circuit reviews the facts of the case, they will affirm Judge Hatter’s preliminary injunction order. We are pleased that the court has agreed to the expedited schedule for hearing the facts of the case, as both parties have recommended.”

A Disney spokesman said the company is pleased by the ruling, “thereby allowing Disney to continue to use its familiar Go Network logo.”

GoTo.com, launched by Idealab! in 1997, sued Disney and Go.com, its joint venture with Infoseek, in February on charges that Go.com’s logo was too similar to its own. Go.com launched in 1998.

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