Virgin Group chairman wins battle for .xxx domain

March 8, 2012

The man known for using sexually suggestive advertising to sell his products and owner of a company dubbed Virgin recently won a legal battle to gain control over richardbranson.xxx. Source.

Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson filed a UDRP complaint against Sean Truman, who, according to the decision, is not in the adult entertainment industry, but instead says he registered the domain name as a “souvenir” of his “admiration” for Branson. Truman also said he had no intention to host a website at the domain. Indeed, the webpage was blank when the complaint was filed, with the exception of ads placed by GoDaddy.com.

The National Arbitration Forum concluded that the domain was registered in bad faith and transferred the domain name to Branson. Once transferred, the site apparently will no longer display a web page. Looks like the Virgin name will remain, like most other self-proclaimed virgins, outwardly pristine.


Don’t you “Krave” an interesting cybersquatting case?

November 26, 2011

By J. DeVoy

Vegas Inc., which provides excellent coverage of Las Vegas’ legal developments (such as its remarkable dedication to the Righthaven saga), reports on a lawsuit filed by the operator of Piranha Night Club and 8 1/2 Ultra Lounge against Krave over the domain name <piranhalv.com>.  Historical note: from 2004 to 2008, Krave was home to the theatrical adaptation of John Stagliano’s / Evil Angel Video’s Fashionistas.

The Complaint is available here.  It alleges a fairly common cybersquatting claim: The <piranhalv.com> domain name was registered by Krave’s operators and its agents in derogation of Piranha’s trademark rights, as it was supposedly done to mislead and confuse the consuming public.  The Complaint also alleges trademark infringement under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a) and at common law; it goes on to seek an injunction, and a declaration that the Piranha Night Club’s operator is the proper owner of the domain name.

In the Complaint’s other causes of action, though, it invokes some claims one doesn’t always (or even often) see in trademark matters: Unfair, Deceptive and Fraudulent Business Practices under NRS 598A; Intentional Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage; Tortious Interference with Contractual Relations, and; Piercing the Corporate Veil under NRS 74.787 (since the domain name registrant is a party other than Krave’s owners/operators).

The case is Manhattan West LLC v. Century Partners Ltd. et al., 2:11-cv-01898 in the District of Nevada, and may be worth a PACER notification for those interested in trademark and domain name disputes.


Abercrombie & Fitch brings guns to bear on cybersquatters

December 14, 2010

Lets say you go to the website “abercrombieandfitchstore.com.” What would you expect to find there? Probably not what you see below.

That’s cybersquatting, and it is illegal.

Abercrombie & Fitch have had enough, and they’ve brought suit against the as yet unidentified owners of more than 150 infringing domain names. Most of them are Pay Per Click sites, and it is pretty clear that the plaintiff should prevail.

As many readers might know, when a plaintiff takes aim at a cybersquatter, there are two avenues of attack — bring suit in federal court (which is generally more expensive) or file a nice, quick, and cheap UDRP complaint. In this case, Abercrombie opted for the former, but this seems to be a tactically (and financially) sound decision. Under the UDRP, you need to pay filing fees according to how many domain names you are going after, and the complaint can only be against a single cybersquatter. In this case, there may be dozens of defendants. Even if there happened to be only a single defendant, the UDRP filing fees would likely be in the range of $20,000, given the sheer number of domain names.

Despite the fact that most of the domain names are clearly infringing, there are some puzzling additions. In addition to the clearly infringing “bercrombie.com,” and “wwwhollister.com,” the complaint says that “ant.com,” “asnf.com,” “hcos.org,” and “fierce.org” are also in violation of Abercrombie’s famous trademarks. I’m just not seeing the infringement there. While some go to pay per click pages (yuck) and others are dead links, ant.com seems to be a search engine.

Which makes you wonder, why would such great attorneys make such a seeming blunder?

I suspect that Abercrombie’s lawyers know that these non-infringing domain names are owned by the same people who own some of the clearly infringing domains. Cybersquatters usually default in these cases, leaving the plaintiff with little financial satisfaction for all of its trouble. Ant.com is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000 or more. With that kind of domain at stake, someone is certain to come forward rather than risk losing that kind of online property in a default.

I have mixed feelings about that kind of tactic. On one hand, I have serious misgivings about a clearly non-infringing domain name being added into a complaint.

Abercrombie & Fitch was going about its business, selling clothes modeled by white people and beloved by Asians. Then, some unscrupulous cybersquatters started infringing on A&F’s intellectual property rights. A&F then had to hire expensive lawyers to clean up the problem. I believe that the cybersquatters should, at least, pay A&F’s attorneys fees. But, if they are hiding and simply default, then A&F will be out a serious chunk of money, while the wrongdoers run off scot free, with their pay per click fees in their pockets. If A&F is trying hold something hostage in order to smoke them out, I respect that tactical decision.

Ultimately, if the cybersquatters do default and they don’t pay the judgment, then A&F can likely foreclose on their entire domain portfolio. If the only thing of value in that portfolio is ant.com or some other non-infringing domain names, then A&F may have done well to at least lock the domain name down while the litigation is pending.

H/T: Mike Atkins

Bias alert: I am proud to say that the lawyers for A&F are friends of mine.


Dumbass Typosquatter of the Day

April 13, 2010

Some dumbass registered thousands of typosquatting domains. A handful of them were typosquatting on Microsoft’s trademarks, so Microsoft sued him for $2.4 million. Now the dumbass wants to just hand over the domain names and call it a day, and if Microsoft doesn’t like it, he’s not going to bother to answer the complaint. (source)

Lemme know how that works out for you, dumbass.

I deal with idiots like this all the time. They register infringing domain names, make a few bucks off them, and then think that the remedy should be my client sending a nice “please cut it out” letter — and then all bygones are bygones.

Only an idiot like this could make Microsoft look like it was wearing the white hat.


Cybersquatter gets his Comeuppance

October 15, 2009

Ah pity da fool who thinks he be judgment proof!  I got ya judgment proof right here, foo!!!!!

Ah pity da fool who thinks he be judgment proof! I got ya judgment proof right here, foo!!!!!

Cybersquatters often either hide offshore, or they claim to be offshore, or they claim that they don’t have any money — ergo they are “judgment proof.”

Well, Marc Trachtenberg, the domain law equivalent of Mr. T, just kicked a cybersquatters’s ass. The squatter decided that he would rather not pay the $120,00 judgment. Since he believed that he was outside the reach of the U.S. courts, he just ignored it. Trachtenberg loaded up the van and brought a plan together — he foreclosed on the cybersquatter’s domain name portfolio.

Judgment Debtor Luis Zavala (“Zavala”) and any and each of his agents, servants, employees, registrars, registry, and attorneys, and those persons enabling or in active concert or participation with Zavala shall transfer to Bosh his domain name holdings, including but not limited to those holdings identified in Exhibit F of the Declaration of Marc Trachtenberg in Support of the Application. This order includes the operator of the “.com” top-level domain, Verisign, Inc., which is hereby ordered to immediately disable Zavala’s domain name holdings by changing the nameserver entries to nameserver entries designated by Bosh and transfer Zavala’s domain name holdings to Bosh’s registrar of choice. (source)

This is good news. If a cybersquatter is stealing from your business, you should have some recourse to collect a judgment. Now, Mr. T can auction off the domains (at least those that don’t infringe on anyone else’s trademark), and Mr. Zavala just lost his pay per click income from 800 domain names.


Glenn Beck’s WIPO Complaint

September 28, 2009

wipo logoA very interesting case that Marc is handling.

He filed this Response (don’t forget the annexes) to Glenn Beck’s Complaint (exhibits included) yesterday.

UPDATE: He has requested that Mr. Beck stipulate to the First Amendment applying to these proceedings. I will update you when Beck responds.

ANOTHER UPDATE — ROUND TWO:

Glenn Beck filed a supplemental filing.
The Arbitrator accepted it and asked for a surreply.
The surreply — (and the exhibits to it)

Marc asked that LS’s editors/writers publish no further commentary on the case until a decision is rendered. However, there is commentary and analysis here.

He has further asked that any comments to this post should be respectful to both Mr. Beck and his attorneys.


Online UDRP

September 8, 2009

I finally took a stab at filing a UDRP proceeding with the Czech Arbitration Court (my previous go-to was WIPO, and I’d never use NAF). What attracted me? Online filing! It is about time that someone recognizes that UDRP proceedings are a 21st century phenomenon, and perhaps they should be handled as such. Accordingly, imagine my joy when I found that the CAC takes its filings electronically!

Oh, but you still have to send four copies of the complaint via courier.

Well, so much for my delight.

It still seems a little easier. There is an online case management platform. I will continue to post reviews of the process.


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