Facebook wins $2.8 million cybersquatting lawsuit

01-05-2013

Facebook wins $2.8 million cybersquatting lawsuit

Social network Facebook has won damages worth about $2.8 million in a cybersquatting lawsuit in California. 

On April 30, the US District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the transfer of more than 100 domain names, many of which were typosquatted (misspelt trademarks).

Damages against the 11 defendants ranged from $5,000 to $1.34 million. Judge Kandis Westmore granted Facebook injunctive relief, meaning the defendants are barred from registering or using any domain that is identical or confusingly similar to its trademarks.

The domains included either the name Facebook or misspelt versions of it, and many redirected Internet users to lookalike sites that generated click-through revenue.

Facebook sued 11 individuals and companies in 2011 under the US Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act 1999, which allows courts to issue between $1,000 and $100,000 per infringing domain.

The social network wanted maximum damages but the court said the defendants’ behaviour was not egregious enough for such a large award, as some had acted more maliciously than others. Registering domains that include trademarks is seen as a more serious offence than using those that are typosquatted, for example.  

Examples of the domains include facebookfreezer.com, facebooll.com and facegbook.com. One defendant, who registered 28 domains but later admitted registering 100 more, landed a $705,000 bill. That amount covers only the 28 domains, but the court recommended all 128 be transferred to Facebook.  

In an emailed statement, Craig Clark, associate general counsel, Facebook, said: “We are pleased with the court’s recommendation.  We will continue to use all the tools at our disposal to enforce against those who attempt to take advantage of the people who use our service.” 

US courts have handed out large damages awards in the past to cybersquatting victims. In one case, ruled on in March, a company called Navigation Catalyst Systems was told to pay Weather Undergound $3.5 million for registering about 250 typosquatted domain names. 

This article was first published on 02 May 2013 in World IP Review

facebook, acpa, Kandis Westmore, cybersquatting

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