Policing intellectual property on the World Wide Web can seem like a daunting task. Infringers pirate copyrighted material and pillage trademark rights across the Internet. The establishment of new virtual territories creates perilous waters for intellectual property holders to navigate. With a few simple tips and tools, however, intellectual property owners can either sink or blockade the most likely online infringements.
One common concern for trademark owners is a practice known as “cybersquatting.” Cybersquatting is the bad faith registration of a domain name in order to profit from the goodwill associated with the trademark of another. The seminal example of cybersquatting involved the registration of the domain Panavision.com. Due to the bad faith registration of a cybersquatter, users visiting the Panavision.com domain encountered aerial images of Pana, Illinois, rather than the motion picture equipment goods of Panavision, Inc. The wrongful owner of Panavision.com was in the business of attempting to sell domains, including Panavision.com, to the rightful owners of the underlying trademarks for exorbitant sums, often with success. Panavision, Inc. refused to comply with the owner’s demands. A court determined that the defendant owner’s use was unlawful and awarded the domain to Panavision, Inc. The Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. §1125(d), was subsequently enacted to provide trademark owners with a statutory means to stop cybersquatters. Statutory damage awards for cybersquatting can be as high as $100,000 per infringing domain.
Article authored by McAfee & Taft Attorney: Ryan Lobato.
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