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Lexus Dresses Down Porn Site

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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CARJACKER Lexus Cash

What does the word Lexus make you think of? Fancy cars? Stepford wives cruising to Pottery Barn? Amateur porn? To ensure the word stays clear of this last connotation, Toyota's testing the limits of trademark law.

The Japanese auto giant filed a lawsuit contending that lexuscash.com, a porn site named for an adult film star, "uses the mark 'Lexus' in an unwholesome and unsavory context" that's "likely to tarnish and blur the distinctive qualities" of the luxury brand. But considering the website's traffic was about nil before the lawsuit was announced and that Ms. Cash isn't the only porn star to share the car's moniker, the operators of the Detroit site seem a strange target.

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Toyota has been tight-lipped about the case and did not respond to our request for comment. Thomas Field, a professor at the Franklin Pierce law center, is unwilling to predict the suit's outcome: "It's possible a judge will say that this is outrageous and reasonable minds can differentiate." But, he adds, "courts are fairly receptive to cases involving someone throwing something on a good name."

One thing's for sure, other companies who a have a problem with porn association will be watching this case closely. Some who may consider getting their lawyers on the line after the jump.

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