Monday, March 22, 2010

Facebook, Twitter go after domain names containing their "character strings"


Jesse Stay has a story on the site “Stay ‘N’ Alive” (remember how John Travolta looked in that 1983 movie?) about Facebook’s recent campaign against some (but maybe not all) domain names that incorporate the character string “Facebook” in the name. Mari Smith’s “Whyfacebook.com” was surrendered and now that domain (if you try it) takes you to facebook. Jesse writes that protection of trademarks is a “common and perhaps necessary” practice. The story is here.

Twitter has gone after names including Tweet and Twit. It makes it hard to check online at USPTO with the beginning of a character string.

Friday, March 12, 2010

ICANN announces it will develop a trademark clearinghouse for domain name issues


ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), in a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, announced March 12 that it had approved creating a “trademark clearinghouse”, that is, “an extensive database of trademarks for their protection on the Internet”. The link for the press release in PDF format is here and it was sent to email subscribers today.

The Board rejected a pre-registration process called “Expression of Interest” or EOI, for setting up new gTLD’s, or the last node of a domain name (“.com”).

It appears that ICANN is interested in assisting parties that believe that legitimate trademarks are threatened by new domain names, but another part of the press release appears to distance it from concerns over the main node of the domain name, often perceived by many people as indicative of branding.

Stay tuned as more clarifications come about.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) does have limits: important case in Michigan with a personnel business


In a case in Michigan, a federal court ruled that a defendant could register a domain name(s) with the purpose of criticizing another business, when the original business (the plaintiff) had minimal presence on the web. Doing so did not constitute trademark dilution, even prospectively. The case is “Career Agents Network, Inc.” vs. “careeragentsnetwork.biz, careeragentnetwork.biz, Lawrence R. White and Aeromedia Marketing”. The order granted a defendant’s motion for a summary judgment and denied the plaintiff’s motion. The papers can be read on the Scribd website here. The opinion was linked on Mixx under trademark law.

Apparently the case involved a “Career Agents Network” and another company in Missouri called “Health Career Agents” which offered franchise opportunity to set up recruiting businesses under these names.

The opinion does discuss the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) (1999). An ACPA lawsuit is more costly that an administrative mediation with ICANN under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Policy (UDRP). The ACPA had been intended to supplement the original Federal Trademark Dilution Act. Wikipedia’s entry with the “nine tests” is here.

Here is an FAQ on the ACPA at Keytlaw (link).

The Cornell University Law School Text for USC 15-1125 is here.