Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Traverse Internet Law Federal Court Report: November 2009 Domain Name Dispute Lawsuits


The facts are unproven allegations of the Plaintiff and all commentary is based upon the allegations, the truthfulness and accuracy of which are likely in dispute.


BELLAGIO, LLC AND MIRAGE RESORTS, INC. v. DOMINIC TORRINO AND GEORGIO STAMATIS MAILLIS
DISTRICT OF NEVADA (LAS VEGAS)
2:09-CV-02240
FILED: 11/23/2009

This case is a classic example of the damages that can ensue from improperly squatting on a domain name. There is no law preventing a trademark owner from suing you for cybersquatting and trademark infringement after it has prevailed in a domain name dispute. If you ever receive a “cease and desist” letter demanding that you turn over a domain name be aware that simply transferring the domain name to a trademark owner does not necessarily end your legal exposure. This case is a perfect lesson in that respect.

Bellagio is the Las Vegas casino with many registered trademarks. The Defendants registered and used “bellagiolimousines.com”. The website initially featured a photograph of the famous Bellagio fountains on its homepage. Bellagio won a domain name dispute decision and has filed this lawsuit after receiving the National Arbitration Forum decision in its favor.

The lawsuit includes claims for cybersquatting, federal trademark infringement, unfair competition, false designation of origin, federal trademark dilution, state trademark infringement, state trademark dilution, common law trademark infringement, deceptive trade practices, and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. Plaintiffs are requesting the issuance of preliminary and permanent injunctions prohibiting the use of the marks and requiring transfer of the domain names, as well as an award of compensatory damages, consequential damages, statutory damages, exemplary damages, punitive damages, and an award of interest, cost, and attorneys’ fees. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1380.


JAR GROUP, INC. AND SQUIRT GUN MARKETING, INC. v. KAREN WHITE, ET AL.
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK (BROOKLYN)
1:09-CV-05101
FILED: 11/20/2009

Qwest has apparently been pulled into this dispute under a claim for “aiding and abetting breaches of fiduciary duties”. The Plaintiffs are attempting to impute liability for damages to Qwest because its representative allegedly provided the Defendants with knowing and substantial assistance in breaching the fiduciary duty owed to the Plaintiffs to act honorably and in good faith. The lesson to be learned here is that you need to be very careful about who you deal with in the online affiliate marketing industry. Due diligence and vetting of relationships is critical. No one knows whether the Defendants did anything wrong in this case because the lawsuit is mere allegations of misconduct. But a “business divorce”, which appears to be the situation in this case, can get very ugly.

Defendant is alleged to have registered and used “squirtgunmediagroup.com”, which is confusingly similar to the Plaintiffs’ distinctive trademark of “Squirt Gun Marketing” and the Plaintiffs’ domain name, “squirtgunmedia.com”. All of the parties are involved in the online affiliate marketing industry.

The lawsuit alleges unfair competition, dilution, trademark infringement, violations of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, breaches of fiduciary duties, theft of corporate opportunities, tortious interference with contractual relations, breaches of contract, and aiding and abetting breaches of fiduciary duties. Plaintiffs request that the court declare the Plaintiffs’ website, domain name, and trade name are the property of the Plaintiffs, enter permanent injunctive relief against the Defendants, and award actual damages, compensatory damages, and costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Traverse Internet Law Cross-Reference Number 1381.

1 comment:

dd said...

Necessity is the mother of invention..........................