Ninth Circuit Affirms Dropbox Win in Trademark Dispute

On April 25, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of trademark claims against Dropbox, Inc. over its "Dropbox" name.

In November 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted Dropbox's motion for summary judgment on trademark infringement claims asserted by a company called Thru, which claimed to have been using the term "Dropbox" since 2004. The district court ruled that Dropbox held senior rights in the "Dropbox" name by virtue of an assignment from another party, and even if Thru had rights in the term, Thru was guilty of laches, having deliberately delayed filing suit against Dropbox for years in the hope of increasing the value of a claim. The district court also found the case "exceptional" under the Lanham Act and awarded Dropbox almost $2.3 million in attorney's fees and costs.

On appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed each of the district court's rulings. It held that the district court correctly found Dropbox's rights to the Dropbox name were senior to those Thru claimed, and that Thru was guilty of laches. In addition, the appeals court affirmed the award of attorney's fees and costs, finding that Thru's claims were "wholly lacking in merit."

A team of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati lawyers represented Dropbox in the matter, including partners David Kramer, Colleen Bal, and John Slafsky; Of Counsel Shelby Tsai; and associates Peter Holm and Kelly Knoll.

For more information, please refer to the court's opinion.