Arizona State University (ASU) got into a trademark infringement fight against the owner of the Instagram account “asu_covid.parties”.
They also issued a lawsuit against the social media platform Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.
Can they do that?
Yes, they can. And they are.
What is a COVID party? Some media have reported students organizing parties without social distancing and face masks. To add recklessness, hosts invite people infected with COVID19. It is a wicked way to defy their odds of getting the disease.
Besides, the “asu_covid.parties” also provided a platform to criticize the University’s mask requirement and other health measures on campus.
Trademarks, Logos and Colors
The lawsuit alleges false advertising, the spread of harmful misinformation about public health, and… trademark infringement: The use of ASU name, colors, and logos.
ASU asked the courts for the shutdown of the account. In addition, it seeks penalties against Facebook “as a contributory infringer” of ASU trademarks and intellectual property rights.
Due to the serious public health issues involved, ASU is asking “expedited discovery, temporary restraining, and preliminary injunction”.
There is no evidence a COVID Party ever took place due to this advertisement or any other involving the ASU community.
Instagram takes account down
Instagram took quick action, taking down the account. However, Facebook (the parent company) disagrees that the account committed intellectual property infringement.
This underscores the university’s position in cracking down on students violating or ignoring the health guidance issued in June. They have been clear that any student jeopardizing his or her own health and that of others, will be subject to discipline under the student code of conduct.
Also, it highlights how institutions are not going to sit down and let other parties infringe on their intellectual property.
Moreover, ASU is seeking a jury trial and to receive damages and payment for the account’s trademark infringement and false advertising.
There is more to this case, but it should be sufficient enough to say that trademark infringement is not a joke and should be taken seriously.
Attorney Marcos E. Garciaacosta is a trademark and business attorney located in the Phoenix metro area, with a global approach.
Call us for a consultation at (480) 324-6378