ABOR loses trademark lawsuit over ‘asu_covid.parties’ account

A federal judge said the ‘COVID party’ misinformation Instagram account was ‘too crude and profane’ for ASU to sue over the use of logo and colors. The Arizona Board of Regents cannot sue an anonymous Instagram user who promoted misinformation and maskless parties during the first COVID-19 case surge for trademark infringement, a federal judge ruled. Illustration originally published Wednesday, July 22, 2020./Photo by Jennifer Dam /The State Press/ABOR loses trademark lawsuit over ‘asu_covid.parties’ account. . .

By Anna Campbell | The State Press

The Arizona Board of Regents cannot sue the owner of an Instagram account that encouraged students to attend parties during a surge of COVID-19 cases for trademark infringement, according to a ruling issued by a federal judge Wednesday. 

ABOR, which filed the complaint on ASU’s behalf on Aug. 20, 2020, sued the anonymous Instagram account owner of “asu_covid.parties” and Facebook, which owns Instagram. The suit argued that the anonymous user was illegally using ASU trademarks and colors to promote unmasked parties and misinformation. 

Related: Parent group in Queen Creek District pushing for more transparency as COVID cases rise

In July 2020, the account’s first post included ASU’s logo and had “No more social distancing. No more masks. It is time to party!” written in gold on a maroon background.

Facebook deleted the account shortly after the lawsuit was filed, and ABOR dismissed Facebook as a defendant. 

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Dominic W. Lanza wrote that ABOR did not show that the “asu_covid.parties” Instagram account violated trademark law.

Instead, Lanza wrote that the content of the posts was such that “a reasonably prudent consumer would not be deceived or confused” into thinking the posts came from an official ASU outlet.

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