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:
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?