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 Chilling Effects Clearinghouse > DMCA Safe Harbor > Frequently Asked Questions > Can an online service provider (OSP) be held contr...? Printer-friendly version
Question: Can an online service provider (OSP) be held contributorily liable for acts of trademark infringement by one of its users?

Answer: Under section 512(c) of the DMCA an OSP will not be held liable for instances of copyright infringement so long as the OSP satisfies certain statutory requirements. (See What are the DMCA Safe Harbor Provisions?.) However, there is no equivalent legislation pertaining to trademark infringement, and given the paucity of caselaw concerning liability of OSPs in such instances, it remains an open question as to whether or not an OSP could, or should, be held liable for acts of trademark infringement by its users.

In trademark law contributory liability exists when a manufacturer or distributor intentionally induces another party to infringe a valid trademark, or when it continues to supply products to a party that it knows, or has reason to know, is using the products to engage in trademark infringement. Inwood Laboratories v. Ives Laboratories, 456 U.S. 844 (1982). (See What is contributory trademark infringement?.)

Lower courts have since disagreed somewhat over what exactly satisfies the

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