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Academy Sues Go Daddy for Alleged Cybersquatting

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Best Actress Academy Award by cliff1066™ on Flickr

Photo by cliff1066™ on Flickr

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has filed a 134-page lawsuit against Go Daddy, the web hosting company and domain registrar, alleging rampant cybersquatting.

“Cybersquatting” occurs when someone purchases, registers, trafficks, or otherwise uses a domain name confusingly similar to a personal name or trademark; the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA),” passed in 1999, established a cause of action for cybersquatting.

In its complaint, the Academy alleges cybersquatting for over 100 names, including the following:

  • AcademyAwardz.com
  • OscarsUnplugged.com
  • OscarsTravel.com
  • OscarsLiveBlogging.com
  • 2011Oscars.com

The request for damages is $100,000 per domain infringement, so the suit could be worth up to $10 million.

Why sue GoDaddy.com?

The Academy’s main complaint against Go Daddy involves their “CashParking” program, which allows those who register domains to collect revenue on “parked” domains; that is, those domains whose names are registered but for which there is no website content, e-mail, etc.

The Academy notes that in a patent application, Go Daddy recognizes the need to filter unscrupulous potential cybersquatters, but has not developed such a system.

Go Daddy has not commented on the suit, but does “take exception to anyone calling Go Daddy a cybersquatter,” according to the The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.

What should you do if you’re the victim of cybersquatting?

If you think you may be the victim of a cybersquatter, you generally have two lines of attack:

  • Bring a lawsuit under the ACPA; or
  • Go through the international arbitration system of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The ICANN system can be faster and easier to navigate for non-attorneys, but be sure to explore all your options before proceeding.

How can getting a trademark help?

In any event, a great way to help protect your name and brand is to think about getting a trademark to prohibit your name, logo, or other symbol that identifies your product from being used by anyone else in a way that may confuse your customers.

If you’re ready to register a trademark, LegalZoom can help.

Have you ever been the victim of cybersquatting?

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May 24th, 2010 at 10:43 am