Cybersquatting Law: Must Prove Bad Faith Intent To Profit

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Judge declares cybersquatting laws case as “one of the bad ones.”

Judge Lewis Kaplan hammered his gavel on the cybersquatting scrum between programmer Jason Kneen and OfficeLinks.com executive Harsh Mehta. In tennis speak: “Advantage, Kneen.”

A Quick Background Summary of the Mehta v. Kneen Cybersquatting Laws Case

  • Kneen, a U.K.-based programmer, bought workbetter.com in 1999.
  • In the not too distant past, Harsh Mehta, an office sharing startup co-founder, bought workbetter.us to market his service.
  • In April 2014, Mehta approached Kneen about buying workbetter.com; he offered $500; Kneen ultimately refused and declined to sell his domain.
  • Sometime around the failed domain sale, Mehta initiated the USPTO trademark application process for “Work Better.”
  • Shortly after Mehta started the official process, according to Mehta, one of his “over-zealous” employees allegedly tried to get workbetter.com at the registration level. Twitter apologies were offered and accepted over the incident. At that point, most people assumed the workbetter.com domain battle was over.
  • But then Mehta filed a cybersquatting lawsuit against Kneen over the desired domain.

Tech industry pundits buzzed about this cybersquatting laws case (including yours truly) — probably because it was possible for people to appreciate both parties’ arguments.

Judge on Mehta v. Kneen Cybersquatting Lawsuit: “This is a really bad one.”

Unlike us in the peanut gallery, Judge Lewis Kaplan saw no ambiguity. “However you slice it, there are good cybersquatting cases and there are bad ones. And this is really one of the bad ones,” Kaplan stated in his ruling. He went on to explain his position:

The balance of hardships in my view, if it cuts in any direction cuts in favor of Mr. Kneen because an injunction could threaten to interfere with a perfectly lawful and appropriate course of business in which he’s been engaged since 1999, all at the behest of somebody who appears to have a — who quite obviously just went out and registered a mark that he undoubtedly knew was nearly identical to the domain name registered and used by the plaintiff for many years for perfectly legitimate reasons.

Plaintiff Didn’t Prove “Bad Faith Intent To Profit”

Mehta alegedly knew that Kneen owned workbetter.com but tried to register the mark anyway. For his part, Kneen had not – and at the time of this writing has not – violated any regulations in relation to the domain. As such, according to current U.S. intellectual property standards, in theory and praxis, Kneen isn’t doing anything wrong.

To put another way: if a URL is not being used to parasitically profit off another brand’s mark, owning a dormant URL is not necessarily a violation of trademark law.

If a URL is not being used to parasitically profit off another brand’s mark, owning a dormant URL is not necessarily a violation of trademark law.

To Win A Cybersquatting Lawsuit, Plaintiffs Must…

To win an online copyright or trademark lawsuit, plaintiffs typically must prove, at the very least, that the defendants:

  • Were using their marks – or ones confusingly similar;
  • Profited from the use of the contested marks; and
  • Acted in bad faith.

Owning A Domain For A Long Time Worked In Favor of The Defendant (This Time)

Since Kneen owned the URL long before Mehta had an interest in it, under sui generis circumstances, the judge ruled that Kneen did not act in bad faith by refusing to sell the domain. Moreover, in this case, the court reasoned that any future sale of the domain would fail to contravene Mehta’s trademark since Kneen bought it almost a decade before Office Space Solutions came into existence.

Speak With Someone Who Understands Cybersquatting Laws

Cybersquatting laws are nuanced. A top AV-rated Internet law firm, Kelly Warner attorneys are exceptionally well versed in domain disputes and other online intellectual property legalities. Our cybersquatting law attorneys:

  • Help clients secure, register and defend trademarks and copyrights – both online and off;
  • Settle domain disputes;
  • Work with clients on UDRP petitions;
  • Act as both plaintiff and defense counsel for intellectual property litigation; and
  • Conduct research for startups and established businesses.

Get in touch. We’ll do our best to change your mind about lawyers and help protect your intellectual property – online and off.

Cybersquatting Case Law: Warehousing Domains

cybersquatting cases
Cybersquatting Cases: OfficeLinks v. Kneen

Enterprising Programmer Buys Domain In The 1990s; Startup Wants It In 2014.

Sixteen years ago, a London-based programmer, Jason Kneen, purchased the domain workbetter.com.

Fast forward to 2014. According to reports, Kneen is contacted by Harsh Mehta, the entrepreneur behind OfficeLinks, who wants to buy workbetter.com. To promote his company, Mehta had already bought workbetter.us and was looking to obtain the higher-profile workbetter.com. The OfficeLinks co-founder offered Kneen $500, but for various reasons, the programmer ultimately turned down the deal.

After negotiations had fallen through, in April 2014, Mehta filed an intent-to-use trademark application for the phrase “Work Better.” Then, in June, Kneen caught wind that someone was trying to do a domain transfer on the URL. Turns out the would-be domain interloper was, as Mehta would later explain, one of his “over-zealous” employees. Whatever the case, at the time, Mehta and Kneen appeared to have “made up” on social media.

Startup Files Cybersquatting Lawsuit Over “Warehoused” Domains

But later in the same month, DomainNameWire contacted Kneen, which is allegedly how he found out about that OfficeLinks was suing him for cybersquatting in a New York Federal Court. According to reports, as a result of the lawsuit, Kneen’s domain name provider locked the URL during proceedings – presumably until the legal matter resolved.

In a public statement, Mehta explained his position thusly:

“This is a dispute between a company that is trying to protect its trademark, and make genuine use of it, and an ideology that entitles individuals (and businesses, including Jason Kneen’s) to hijack existing and prospective trademark registrations for $18/year.”

Interesting Case; Tough Call

This domain dispute is worth following for a couple of reasons.

  • Both parties are fairly well-known in the tech and startup communities.
  • It’s easy to see both parties’ points.

As John Biggs on Tech Crunch eloquently explains:

At this point, on July 3, the domain is still in limbo with Kneen refusing to sell and Mehta’s lawsuit hanging over Kneen. The unfortunate thing about the case is that both parties are Internet natives and, Mehta especially, part of the startup ecosystem. While cybersquatting situations are frustrating, this is not the case of someone trying to grab Sony.com in the early days of the Internet. Kneen decided he didn’t want to sell and Mehta, in short, is using the legal system to ensure an outcome beneficial to himself.

Got Questions About Cybersquatting Cases? Consult A Domain Dispute Lawyer.

Kelly Warner is an Internet law firm that has successfully handled dozens of domain disputes and cybersquatting lawsuits. A top AV-rated firm, our attorneys enjoy a high success rate. To read more about cybersquatting case studies, head here. To learn more about Kelly / Warner’s Internet law practice, click here. If you’re ready to schedule a consultation, please head here.

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Kelly Warner’s domain dispute lawyers have successfully handled all manners of cybersquatting cases. Our experience with these types of cases means we’re aware of all the proverbial trap doors and potential sink holes. We also understand how to best leverage the law on behalf of our clients’ interests.
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Cybersquatting Cases and Lawyer Contact

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Cybersquatting Cases Round Up

You can’t hold famous domains hostage for cash. That get-rich-quick scheme left the station in 1999 when Congress “yea’d” the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act into law.

Below are two summaries of recent cybersquatting cases. If you’re ready to speak with a domain dispute lawyer, go here.

Wiz Khalifa Won A Cybersquatting Lawsuit

Domain marketer Anthony Lynch recently found himself in a legal tangle with Cameron Thomaz – a.k.a., Wiz Khalifa. Lynch scooped up eight domain names featuring the rapper’s trademarks.

Since Khalifa’s claim was straightforward, only one UDRP panelist sat for the case, who ruled in favor of the musician. Why? Because Khalifa used and registered the trademarks before Lynch purchased the domain names. The panelist also pontificated that Lynch probably bought the URLS with the “express intention to target” Wiz Khalifa.

The final verdict: all eight domains need to be transferred back to Wiz Khalifa’s company, at no cost to him.

Case: Thomaz et al v. Lynch, No. D2015-0166

Amazon.com and Kellogg: High Profile Cybersquatting Cases

Amazon.com and Kellogg Inc. can both add cybersquatting lawsuit victor to their virtual trophy cases.

After a protracted dispute, the Internet’s largest online retailer won back amazonprom.com, amazonpromdresses.com and amazondresses.org. The panelists ultimately ruled in favor of Amazon because the defendant lacked a legitimate interest in domains that included Amazon’s trademark.

All you cereal enthusiasts out there, you’ll be happy to learn that Kellogg’s won back kelloggs.buzz – for the same reasons Amazon won.

“Bad Faith Intent to Profit”

Both parties won their cybersquatting claims because the defendant demonstrated a “bad faith intent to profit”. Plus, the names under review were “confusingly similar” to trademarked brands.

Cybersquatting is still a big legal issue. Though federal officials passed the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, people still run typosquatting and cybersquatting schemes. But there are ways for trademark holders to regain control of their domains, without shelling out much money.

Speak To A Lawyer Who Has Dealt With Cybersquatting Cases

Kelly / Warner helps trademark holders regain control of domains. An Internet law firm with a cybersquatting law division, we know all the ins-and-outs to reclaim your domain promptly.

Contact us to take back your URL.

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Cybersquatting Case Study: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences v. GoDaddy.com Inc.

cybersquatting case example
Did a court just make it easier to sue cybersquatters?

A U.S. court ruling paved the way for lawsuits against domain name registrars that offer “cash for parking” programs. The high-profile case, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences v. GoDaddy.com Inc., may have a profound effect on cybersquatting lawsuits from this point forward.

Background On The Oscar Cybersquatting Lawsuit

In 2013, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – or AMPAS (a.k.a., the people who give out Oscars) – filed a lawsuit against GoDaddy.com. The issue? AMPAS felt that GoDaddy – via its Paid Parking Program – was unfairly profiting off the Academy’s name.

Domain Marketer Bought Oscar-Related URLs

An enterprising domain marketer purchased several URLs that incorporated the “Oscar” trademark, including oscarliveblogging.com and Oscarlist.com. Instead of putting a website on the URLs, the marketer opted to take advantage of GoDaddy’s Cash Parking Program – a program that financially benefited both GoDaddy and the would-be cybersquatter.

As you may have already guessed, during Oscar season, the domain name entrepreneur made a cash killing via the ads that appeared on the sites.

AMPAS brass wasn’t impressed with someone profiting off its brand. So, the Academy decided to move forward with a cybersquatting lawsuit.

Violations of the Anticybersquatting Consumer protection Act

In 1995, U.S. Federal officials passed the Godfather of domain dispute laws. Entitled the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, the statute protects the domain names of trademark owners. Essentially, it illegalized the practice of buying another party’s trademarked domain with bad faith intent to profit. It’s the law that disallows you or me from, say, buying Nike.com and then holding it ransom for $1 billion (spoken in Dr. Evil’s voice, thank you very much!).

Why The Court Sided With AMPAS In The GoDaddy Cybersquatting Case

AMPAS’ lawsuit alleged that GoDaddy monetized 115 domains infringing on the Oscar trademark. After reviewing the facts of the case, the court rejected the registrar’s safe harbor defense because the law only shelters parties that don’t profit – in any way – from the infringing URL of a customer. Since GoDaddy made money off the cybersquatter via advertising, the safe harbor argument didn’t work.

Other Legal Remedies for Trademark Domain Disputes

Lawsuits aren’t the only remedy for domain disputes. The Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) is an international ICANN program where trademark holders, with URL grievances, can petition to regain control of disputed domains. What is the drawback of UDRP rulings? They’re nonbinding.

In the event that a UDRP ruling does not land in petitioners’ favors, they can pursue lawsuits claiming violations of section 43(d) the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. $ 1125(d)).

Speak with An Internet Trademark Attorney

Kelly / Warner Law helps hundreds of businesses and trademark holders with various types of domain disputes – from resolving cybersquatting issues to simple registration needs. A top-rated legal practice, Kelly / Warner maintains a 10-out-of-10 rating with venerated lawyer review group, Martindale-Hubbell. To learn more about our online intellectual property practice, click here. To speak with a domain dispute lawyer, get in touch. We can remedy your issue quickly, and at a competitive price.

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Cybersquatting Cases: Criminal Domain Seizure On The Rise

cybersquatting cases
Cybersquatting is on the rise across the country and around the world.

Cybersquatting cases are making a comeback! And this time around, the stakes are higher. Instead of holding domains ransom for a big pay day, today’s cybersquatters are using stolen domains for more nefarious means.

Is Cybersquatting Legal?

To set the record straight: cybersquatting is not legal. Back during the dawn of the Web, a class of enterprising early adopters and out-of-the-box thinkers made a killing by buying up, then selling back, trademarked and common phrase domains.

But corporations quickly called their representatives – and K Street connections – which resulted in the homologation of the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. An extension of the Lanham Act, and passed in 1999, the ACPA essentially extended trademark rights to domain names. To wit, it’s the bill that made nike.com the automatic property of Nike, Inc.

Why is there an uptick in the amount of cybersquatting cases in recent months?

Both the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the FBI have noted an increase in criminal cybersquatting cases over the past two years.

Why?

For starters, over the last decade, the price of domain names has increased. As such, it’s not cost effective, for criminals, to purchase URLs. Couple that with the insatiable desire to deploy malware and other viruses – and you’ve got a perfect storm for malicious cybersquatting.

What are the new generation of cybersquatters doing with the stolen domains?

In the past, most cybersquatters were merely looking to make money. These days, many of them are looking to wreak havoc. Victims have reported acts of:

  • Ransom;
  • Domain reselling;
  • Portal manipulation;
  • Malware Distribution; and
  • PPC Schemes.

Advanced cybersquatters are also hijacking domains and re-routing URLS to china, Russia, and Eastern Europe, where they are then used for nefarious financial transactions and other types of cyber criminality. There have even been reports that overseas “organized crime” organizations are hiring cybersquatters.

Authority Squabbles: Who Has Authority?

This new wave of cybersquatting may last quite some time. Why? Because nobody can agree on who is responsible for combating the problem. Law enforcement officials say that the Internet Company of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has the international authority to combat this type of cybersquatting, but ICANN disagrees. Basically, officials are playing a game of hot potato when it comes to enforcement.

Speak with a cybersquatting Attorney

Cybersquatting can take a huge toll on a business and cause considerable financial strain for attacked companies.

Kelly / Warner has successfully handled all manners of cybersquatting cases. As an Internet law firm, our attorneys are well versed in domain dispute law. To learn more about the firm, please go here. To set up a consultation, click here. To send a message, head here.

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Cybersquatting Laws & Lawsuits: The Case of the London Playboy

cybersquatting laws and case study
Playboy Inc. won agTLD dispute with a London real estate agent.

In an effort to steal business, has a competitor bought a domain name similar to your company name? Has a person rival created an unflattering website under your name? Are you trying to wrestle control of a trademarked domain name? Kelly / Warner attorneys are well versed in cybersquatting laws and can quickly resolve your situation. Contact us.

Self-Identified Playboy Loses Domain Dispute With Heff’s Bunny Empire

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) flogged the online dreams of a property peddling London bloke.

In 2013, regional generic top-level domains (gTLDs) became available. At the time, Michael Ross, a seemingly enterprising Londoner, snatched the domain PLAYBOY.LONDON.

But as you’d imagine, Playboy Enterprises International Inc. – Hugh Heffner’s adult entertainment company – was not about to let that URL slide. But when Playboy approached Ross about handing over the domain, he refused, claiming to be a “London-based playboy with every right to use the domain.”

So, Playboy Inc. – not our self-styled playboy with a lower case “p” — opted to file a review request with the World Intellectual Property Organization via the Uniform Domain Resolution Dispute process.

Unfortunately for Mr. Ross, the international cybersquatting laws officials sided with the magazine.

The Anticybersquatting Protection Act

In the beginning, few rules governed the Internet. It was infamously known as the “Wild West”, and a few lucky early adopters made a fortune by purchasing, then selling, trademarked domains. But the unregulated wonderland didn’t last long.

In 1999, federal lawmakers passed the Anticybersquatting Protection Act, which states that trademark holders are the rightful owners of their corresponding domain names. For example, Nike, Inc. automatically has the rights to Nike.com, Nike.London, et cetera.

Contact A Cybersquatting Laws Attorney

Kelly Warner handles all types of online intellectual property matters. A pioneer in Internet law, our firm has successfully rectified hundreds of Internet trademark and copyright disagreements.

To learn more about our domain dispute legal practice and read more about other domain dispute cases, head over here. To learn more about our Internet law practice, go here. To set up a consultation with an attorney well-versed in cybersquatting laws, get in touch.

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Domain Law: You Can’t Hold A Domain Hostage

Domain Name Trademark Law
Domain Name Trademark Law Case Study: WWE v. Cybersquatter

What happens when you own a domain name trademarked by someone else, and that someone wants it back? Do you have to give it up? Can you demand money for the prized URL?

We’ll answer these questions by reviewing a domain name trademark law case involving the WWE and an Internet entrepreneur.

WWE: A Brief History of Intellectual Property Disputes

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) has a few intellectual property scuffles under its gaudy belt.

  • In 2002, the organization locked horns with World Wild Fund over the “WWF” acronym, and lost.
  • In 2007, the WWE entrusted a domain trademark claim to an arbitration panel, and won.

The WWE’s Domain Name Trademark Law Smackdown

A domain name dispute anchors the WWE’s latest online intellectual property showdown. And with proper wrestling panache, the opponent, Emad Ibrahim, is vowing domain vengeance.

Emad Ibrahim: Domain Name Marketer

Ibrahim owned (and may still own) several clever URLs including www.wwe.org. One day, a representative from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) contacted him and asked for the domain. Ibrahim agreed to give it up under one condition: he wanted $50,000.

WWE To Domain Name Owner: We Refuse To Pay You That Much For OUR Domain!

WWE refused, arguing that $50,000 was way over the “fair market value” for the URL. So, instead of throwing some dollars Ibrahim’s way, the WWE took the matter to the National Arbitration Forum, who, in-turn, sided with the wrestling association. Ibrahim was forced to give up wwe.org, for nothing.

“Cybersquatter” Vows Revenge Against Trademark Holder

Ibrahim did not accept the ruling with aplomb. Instead, before handing back his prized domain possession, he posted the following on wwe.org:

“You said I was threatening and blackmailing you; no I was not. This time I am. And I am not afraid of your stupid multi-billion dollar corporation.

“You will be fighting with your trademark to claim the upcoming thousands of WWE-related domains. You will also be fighting for your business welfare, which will be destroyed by these domains’ websites that will be identical to your wwe.com website.”

Can The Cybersquatter Reverse The Arbitration Decision And Prevail Against WWE?

You’re wondering: Does Ibrahim he have a legal leg to stand on? Was wwe.org wrongfully stripped from his domain arsenal by “the man”?

Well…….

UDRP and Arbitration Decisions Can and Have Been Overturned

On one hand, it’s possible to win a domain name trademark lawsuit after striking out with the Uniform Domain Dispute Resolution (UDRP) or arbitration processes. But a legal win is only possible if the UDRP or arbitration panel decisions were flat-out wrong, like in a recent case involving a medical facility.

So, theoretically, yes, Ibrahim may be able to wrestle back his domain via a lawsuit.

But……..

The Anti-Cybersquatting Act

In order to do so, Ibrahim would have to overcome protections in the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, which, essentially, gives trademark holders exclusive rights to the URLs donning their trademarks. As such, Ibrahim’s legal leg, in this instance, is exceptionally precarious.

It’s never wise to say never, but in this scenario, it’s suitable to say: Our domain protagonist has almost no shot at winning this domain name trademark law battle against the WWE.

Do you have a domain dispute trademark law issue? Get in touch with Kelly / Warner law.

UDRP Law: It’s Possible To Win A Federal Lawsuit After A Failed UDRP Ruling

UDRP law attorney
Even if a “UDRP law” ruling goes against you, it’s still possible to win a domain dispute lawsuit.

A recent UDRP settlement proves that it pays to pursue domain dispute lawsuits — even if an initial Uniform Domain Name Dispute panel ruling doesn’t go your way.

Before You Explain This Domain Dispute Case, Please Explain the UDRP Process

Established by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) is an international, quasi-judicial procedure through which parties can challenge ownership of  URLs. Decisions are based on applicable intellectual property statutes and common law guidelines.

Under the UDRP process, claimants pay to convene case review panels comprised of intellectual property and legal experts. The more panelists requested, the more money it costs.

UDRP law analysts consider trademark issues, evidence of bad faith intent and the legitimate interests of each party in respect to the domain name under review.

In most cases, both parties agree to the UDRP decision, but a defendant can move forward with a federal lawsuit if that panel sides with the claimant.

More UDRP Law: Can You Get A Domain Name Back If It Lapses? Click here to find out.

Domain Registrar Lost UDRP Complaint, But Won In Federal Court

Austin Pain Associates – a pain management medical practice in Texas — filed a UDRP claim review request over AustinPain.com – a URL owned by Hughes Domains. In a surprise decision, the UDRP panel sided with the medical practice and ordered Hughes to hand over the URL.

Legal watchers widely condemned the UDRP decision in favor of Austin Pain Associates. So, Hughes filed a federal domain dispute lawsuit.

In the end, the federal court sided with Hughes, and Austin Pain handed over $25,000.

But AustinPain.com now forwards to the APA’s website, which must mean Hughes and the medical group made an additional deal outside of the lawsuit settlement.

It just goes to show that even if you lose an ICANN UDRP ruling, it’s sometimes worth it to move forward with an intellectual property lawsuit.

Speak With A Domain Dispute UDRP Law Attorney

Are you facing a domain dispute legal challenge? Consult an experienced UDRP attorney about your situation.

We’ll solve your domain dispute or UDRP law issue quicker and more efficiently than a mega-firm – but for a fraction of the price.

Business Competition: Can I Get A Domain Back If It Lapses?

business competition cybersquatting
Is it possible to get a domain name back after you let the registration lapse and a competitor picks it up?

All businesses compete. Some companies and people just cross the legality line when doing so.

And when it comes to cybersquatting, sometimes the legality line isn’t crystal clear.

The Domain Name Scuffle That Started A Business Competition Legal Skirmish

Two roofing companies, the Hatfields and McCoys of the Washington State roofing industry, are suiting up to do battle over a domain name.

The URL at issue is SpokaneCommercialRoofing.com. In 2012,  Les Ludtke, of Spokane Commercial Roofing (Roofer A), registered SpokaneCommercialRoofing.com, for one year, and put a website on it. 2013 rolled around, and Roofer A forgot to renew the domain. Jeffrey Sitton, of Spokane Roofing Co. (Roofer B), noticed Roofer A’s domain name registration lapse, scooped it up, and then forwarded it to his website, Spokaneroofing.com.

My competitor “cybersquatted” on my domain, capitalized off my intellectual property, and by doing so engaged in unfair business competition.

Upon realizing that Roofer B had snagged his old domain name, Roofer A sent a letter to Roofer B, outlining possible legal consequences for “stealing” his URL and re-directing it. When Roofer B got the letter, he stopped the re-direction. At the time of this writing, the website at issue is a blank white page.

Roofer A now wants the domain, SpokaneCommercialRoofing.com, back. So, he opted to file a lawsuit, arguing violations of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

Roofer A’s reasoning simmered down into a single sentence:

My competitor “cybersquatted” on my domain, capitalized off my intellectual property, and by doing so engaged in unfair business competition.

If Someone Buys Your Domain Name After You Let The Registration Lapse, Can You Get It Back?

For starters, domain names are not thrown back into the public pool the second a registration expires. It usually takes between 40 – 50 days before another entity can purchase your expired URL.

For starters, domain names are not thrown back into the public pool the second a registration expires. It usually takes between 40 – 50 days before another entity can purchase your expired URL.

But what if those 50 odd days pass? Can you still get your domain name back?

Holding an official trademark or copyright matters most when determining the likelihood of wrestling back a lapsed domain name. But, even if you haven’t registered your domain with the U.S. Trademark office, all goodbyes aren’t gone.

Legal Tactics Available To Get A Lapsed Domain Back

Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy

Individuals and businesses caught in the middle of domain disputes can take their case to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (think: Guardians of the Galaxy, Domain Name Department). ICANN reviews cases using the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy, and the panel’s rulings are usually (not always) upheld in a court of law.

You must pay ICANN a fee to review your case; the cost is dependent on how many “judges” weigh in on the issue.

Proper Paperwork Matters When Filing UDRP Review Requests

UDRP filings are complicated; one wrong check-mark will land you in the rejection pile. So, if you plan to go the ICANN/UDRP route to deal with your business competition cybersquatting scenario, enlist a lawyer who has dealt with ICANN in the past and knows the ropes.

File A Lawsuit Using The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act

Federal Law For Registered and Common-Law Trademarks

Enacted in 1999, the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act protects trademarked domain names. Businesses with trademark-registered URLs and companies with established reputations in their industries (common-law trademark), can use the act (in most cases) to prevent other parties from “stealing domain names” — even if the URL registration has lapsed.

In most cases, in order to win Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act claims, plaintiffs must prove that defendants profited from their actions.

Generic Keyword Domain Names Requires Experienced Representation

If your domain name is also a generic keyword (like in our Roofer lawsuit above), the decision may come down to the quality of each side’s arguments. After all, is it fair to trademark a keyword phrase that every business, in a given industry and region, must “use” to rank well in search engines? If you decide to go the domain dispute lawsuit route, find a lawyer who has successfully handled business competition cybersquatting cases in the past.

After all, is it fair to trademark a keyword phrase that every business, in a given industry and region, must “use” to rank well in search engines?

Contact A Business Competition Attorney With Cybersquatting Law Experience

Kelly / Warner Law is an AV-rated legal practice, with a 10-out-of-10 AVVO rating.

A law firm for today’s marketplace, all Kelly / Warner attorneys have a strong Internet law background.

Kelly / Warner’s litigation record is exemplary; moreover, we’re a practice of straight-shooters who will tell you the quickest, and least costly, path to take.

It’s time to get it done. It’s time to solve your cybersquatting problem. Give us a call or send an email, today.

History of Copyright Law In 60 Seconds

history of copyright law

A Brief History of Copyright Law

While the protection of physical property is as old as human history, protection of intellectual property — indeed, the very concept of such a thing — is a recent idea.

Copyrights didn’t exist in the days of Shakespeare, whose plays have come to us from pirated quartos published without permission. And after the development of the printing press, laws were passed granting exclusive rights to print books; but this form of protection applied to printers, rather than authors.

It was not until 1710, in the history of copyright law, that officials created the first statute to prohibit certain uses of another person’s intellectual property, the Statute of Anne. And over the next three centuries, copyright laws spread like wildfire across the globe.

In the 1900s, International copyright treaties went into force.

Today’s Confusing Digital Copyright Laws

Today, the very laws that were originally passed to protect infringement of intellectual property have become a source of confusion. Many folks find themselves under indictment for unwittingly violating them.

Some jurisdictions hold that making copies of copyrighted material for personal use does not constitute a violation. But new issues have popped up thanks to the Web, smartphones and other portable computer devices. For instance, many people assume that any photograph posted online is automatically in the public domain and, therefore, can be used by anyone for any purpose. But in fact, online photos may be covered by copyright law no matter where they’re posted. For that reason, double-check to make sure the rights for any images you want to use aren’t owned by someone else. It’s also a good idea to keep a file of license owners in the event an issue arises.

Contact A Digital Copyright Lawyer

As a general rule, unless you are the actual creator of an image, to play it safe, take the view that every image, article and video could be copyrighted.

That said, the U.S. courts have ruled that using low-quality thumbnail images does not constitute digital copyright infringement. Moreover, fair use standards exist.

Hope you enjoyed this brief history of copyright law. For more of our legal blog, go here.  If you need to speak with a digital copyright lawyer, contact Kelly Warner today.

Internet Business Litigation: Cybersquatting and Injunctions

business litigation
When things go off-track, a business litigation attorney can negotiate on your behalf to set things straight again.

Business litigation is a wide-ranging area of law. Let’s take a few minutes to review what a business litigation attorney does and how they can help small- and medium-sized startups and companies.

Business Litigation Practice Area: Contract Disputes

Contracts are the backbone of most business transactions. They outline partnerships, affiliate relationships, crowd sourcing agreements, and use-terms for apps, websites and cloud-based networks. A strong contract can save you headaches down the road and a bad one will elicit the opposite effect.

The other thing with contracts is that they can be interpreted in a myriad of ways (and that’s why lawyers have a way of being overly verbose at times). As such, a great business litigation lawyer for Internet companies is one that knows the industry inside and out. That way they can take full advantage of their nuanced knowledge of the digital world to make the most cogent, convincing arguments.

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Business Litigation Practice Area: Debt Recovery

Let’s be blunt, debt collection is no fun, for anyone. But when the bills are due, the bills are due. And for many tech startups, outstanding invoices can be the difference of making it through the next month or not.

Having a law firm deal with your debt collection needs is often more successful than having a debt collection agency. Why? Simply stated, attorneys are professional negotiators, whereas debt collection agents are often at best disgruntled phone jockeys or at worst automated messages.

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Business Litigation Practice Area: Trade Secret Protection

Business litigators often deal with clients involved in trade secret squabbles. Again, many of these cases involve a lot of negotiating between the two parties and many don’t even reach the trial stage.

Business Litigation Practice Area: Injunctions and Temporary Restraining Orders

Since the time of Henry VII, injunctions have been used in legal confrontations. Considered to be equitable remedies, injunctions compel a party to act or stop acting. For example, if you want a former partner to stop accessing certain data, you can file to get an injunction to get them to stop. If you want a former co-worker to turn over certain information, you can petition for an injunction that forces them to do so.

Temporary restraining orders – known as TROs – are stop-gap court orders, usually only issued for no longer than 14 days, prevent an adversary from engaging in certain behavior between the time of your injunction filing and the hearing date. What’s convenient about TROs is that they can be granted ex parte, which means the accused does not have to be notified of the order ahead of time.

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Business Litigation Practice Area: Intellectual Property Litigation

It’s often easy to forget that back in the early days of this country, intellectual property law was basically nonexistent. After all, they were trying to build a new country and economy, so it made perfect sense to allow the copying of foreign works for sale and profit in the “New World.”

But now that that economy is well established (albeit struggling at times), copyright and trademark legislation has grown much stricter. The advent of the Internet added another level of complication to intellectual property legislation and litigation.

An Internet business litigation attorney can help companies sort through the ever-changing maze of intellectual property – whether it be complicated registrations, dispute negotiations,  or even a cybersquatting issue.

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A Few More Basics About Internet Business Litigation

Here are a few more factoids about the business litigation process you may find useful to know .

  1. In business litigation cases, the party which is being accused of an unlawful act or breach is referred to as the litigant. The person filing the claim is the complainant or movant.
  2. Business litigation lawsuits can be of the class action or individual variety.
  3. A good business litigation lawyer will be a stupendous mediator, well-versed in your industry.

If you are in need of an Internet business litigation lawyer, contact us today. Our legal practice concentrates on Internet law and technology issues, making us the ideal option for startups, online businesses, gaming companies, app development firms, hosting firms and affiliate marketers.

Domain Dispute Legal Advice

domain dispute lawyer
A newly published reports says established brands spend $1 million on domain disputes and cybersquatting legal issues annually.

Big brands spend big bucks on cybersquatting and typosquatting pevention — so says a whitepaper commissioned by NetNames.

The study asserts that 1 in 28 webpages illegally infringes in some way — and that 5% of typosquatting domains are bought by cyber-criminals and adult content providers.

So the questions become: how can small business owners protect their online intellectual property and what legal avenues are available to deal with domain disputes?

Legals Options If Someone Is Cybersquatting On Your Domain

If someone is illegally cybersquatting on your rightful domain, legal options are available.

  1. Politely ask the owner to give up the domain. It’s tough to imagine, but many people solve their cybersquatting challenges with a KIND email.
  2. Aggressively ask the owner to give up the domain. If the person infringing is nasty, he or she may ignore your initial request. A strongly worded letter from an online copyright lawyer may do the trick.
  3. File a complaint using the Uniform Domain Dispute Resolution Policy. The UDRP is a domain dispute resolution process developed by ICANN. You can read more about how the UDRP process works here.
  4. File a copyright infringement lawsuit. If you’ve exhausted all other options, or decide not to go the UDRP route, you can always file a domain dispute claim.

Defensive Domain Buying

To protect against cybersquatting and typosquatting legal issues, do some “defensive registration buying” when launching a startup or online business. You don’t have to do anything with the “defensive” urls, but the two hundred dollars a year they cost could save you a lot of legal headaches down the road.

Contact A Domain Dispute, Cybersquatting Lawyer

“With consumers often willing to sacrifice quality in order to get certain products at reduced prices, the growth of counterfeiting, cybersquatting and digital piracy is growing at an astounding rate,”

explained a NetNames spokesman, and continued:

“We now live in a world where the average consumer owns more than one internet-enabled device. This has led to the creation of a constantly-connected environment in which we rely more and more on online products and services. The inevitable consequence of this evolution is that the number and sophistication of cyber-attacks that consumers and brands are exposed to has also dramatically increased.”

Our Internet law attorneys deal regularly deal with domain dispute and online intellectual property issues. If you’re in startup mode or you’re an established business — with a nagging domain issue — give us a call. We have flat rates for most domain dispute fixes.