Alfa Corp. v. OAO Alfa Bank , 475 F.Supp.2d 357, United States District Court , SD New York and decided on February 21, 2007. The case eventually allowed Wikipedia to be used as a legitimate source.

Background

“The plaintiff, Alfa Corporation (” Alfa Corp. “), is a financial services company based in Montgomery , Alabama that operates throughout the United States. The company’s main business is the provision of insurance and reinsurance, but Alfa Corp. Subsidiaries and related companies and services. The corporation holds a number of federally registered trademarks incorporating its name. ” [1]

“The defendants Alfa Bank and Alfa Capital Markets (USA), Inc. (collectively,” Alfa Bank “) are components of a Russia-based financial services group, Alfa Group , United States. The company provides a range of financial services including commercial and investment banking, brokerage, and insurance. ” [2]

Controversy

“The Alfa Corp.” The Alfa Corp. “Alfa Bank’s name is a translation or translation of the company’s name (Альфа-Банк). Alfaged that the defendants’ use of the name Alfa Bank would harm its business and is likely to cause “confusion, mistake, or deception of the trade and public” as a result of the confusion of the two names and the attribution of one company’s actions And services to the other. The complainant alleged that the defendants’ conduct constituted trademark infringement and unfair competition under federal law, under § 1114 (1), 1125 (a) (1) (A) of Title 15 of the United States Code , and trademark infringement, unfair Competition, and dilution under the common law. ” [2]

Plaintiff Alfa Corp. Constantine Muravnik, Constantine. Mr. Muravnik is to testify as a transliteration of the Russian name into English. The defendants Alfa Bank objected to the introductions of the expert witness and sought to have the testimony excluded.

Discussion

The plaintiff sought to introduce the expert testimony of Mr. Muravnik regarding the proper transliteration of the defendant company’s name. Mr. Muravnik is a native Russian speaker who is now Senior Lector in Slavic Languages ​​and Literatures specializing in Russian at Yale University . He has taught Russian since 1991 and interpreter and translator. Mr. Muravnik holds Master’s Degrees in Russian Linguistics and Literature from Moscow State University and in Slavic Languages ​​and Literatures from Yale University; He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Yale. [3]

The Alphabetical Report of Mr. Muravnik’s Report and His Deposition is the best way to render the name … “Alpha Bank,” rather than “Alfa Bank.” In formulating this opinion, Mr. Muravnik subsequently assembled Largely On His background and experience as “an educated native speaker of Russian.” Mr. Muravnik’s postponement aussi references The Transliteration of Modern Russian for English-Language Publications by J. Thomas Shaw (the “Shaw treatise”) qui he calls The most authoritative “book on the subject, and an entry on” Transliteration of Russian Into English, “from the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Mr. Muravnik also consulted with a colleague in the Slavic Languages ​​Department at Yale. For examples of transliteration of the word Mr. Muravnik drew heavily on online sources, Including the Internet version of the Russian newspaper Pravda, and the website of Human Rights House, an international non-governmental organization. [3]

The defendants object to Mr. Muravnik’s testimony on the grounds that his opinions should be excluded because they are based on “inherently unreliable” internet sources. The defendants cite both Mr. Muravnik’s references to Wikipedia and his use of internet sites such as the online version of Pravda.

Holding

The court held that the use of internet sources (in general or the specific ones used by Mr. Muravnik) in forming the basis of expert testimony is not inherently unreliable. The court cited a recent and highly publicized analysis in the magazine Nature which found that the error rate of Wikipedia entries was not significantly greater than in those of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Jim Giles, Internet Encyclopaedias Go Head to Head (Dec. 14, 2005)[4] (finding that “the difference in accuracy was not particularly great: the average science entry in Wikipedia contained around four inaccuracies; Britannica, about three.”)[5]

Furthermore, the court noted that, “the defendants did not point to any actual errors in the entry cited by Mr. Muravnik. Thus, despite reasonable concerns about the ability of anonymous users to alter Wikipedia entries the information provided there is not so inherently unreliable as to render inadmissible any opinion that references it.”[6]

The Plaintiff Alfa Corp. was represented by lead counsel, Juan C. Basombrio, Esq. of Dorsey & Whitney LLP.

References

  1. Jump up^ Alfa Corp. v. OAO Alfa Bank, 475 F. Supp. 2d 357, 358-9 (S.D.N.Y. 2007).
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b Id. at 359.
  3. ^ Jump up to:b Id. At 361.
  4. Jump up^ http://www.nature.com/news/2005/051212/full/438900a.html
  5. Jump up^ Id.At 362-3.
  6. Jump up^ Id.At 363.

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