Serial Cybsersquatting – A big victory for Pinterest

Pinterest, an online consumer social site which allows its users to gather images and other content and curate that content into collections called “pinboards,” won a major court battle, which included a $7.2 million judgment, against  a Chinese cybersquatter Qian Jin.  Qian Jin purchased hundreds of domain names similar to Pinterest.com (for example ptinterest.com, pinterest.de, pinterest.es, etc.)  “Cybersquatters” generally will purchase and register domains names that are identical or confusingly similar to the trademark of a rising brand in hopes to make money by advertising on, or selling products on,  web sites using these similar domain names.  The court agreed with Pinterest that Qian Jin was in fact cybsersquatting.

In 1999, the United States Congress passed the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act  (“ACPA”) to combat this type of behavior (even though the Lanham Act, which existed prior to the days of the internet, was in fact a preexisting law that trademark owners could use to protect their trademarks from exploitation by others).  Essentially, under the ACPA,  a trademark owner needed to prove that there was a bad faith intent by the infringing party to profit off the use of the similar domain names (i.e. the  intent to sell the similar domain names to the trademark holder, to keep the  trademark holder from using the domain names, to disrupt the trademark holder’s  business, or to cause consumer confusion.)  It was then up to the infringing party to show that they had a good faith reason to use the domain names (for example, a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of a domain name without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or tarnish the trademark).  If the infringing party could not establish a good faith reason on why it purchased the similar domain name, the trademark owner was entitled to take ownership of the the similar domains names, as well as the right to obtain statutory damages and reasonable  legal fees.

If you are in need of Cybersqautting Attorneys please contact Bashian & Papantoniou for a free consultation.

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