11|17|2009 03:39 am EDT
Levinson Axelrod, a New Jersey law firm, is trying to shut down an ex-employee’s gripe site, alleging cybersquatting and trademark infringement.
Edward Heyburn, who worked for Levinson Axelrod from 1998 to 2004, started a “Levinson Axelrod Sucks” website in late September, using the domain name LevinsonAxelrod.net to post personal opinions and complaints about the firm and it’s partners.
“I thought this was a very nice way to pull them out of the clouds,” Heyburn said.
And out of the clouds they came. Levinson Axelrod has taken the case to court alleging cybersquatting, trademark infringement, and charging Heyburn with violating state laws that protect attorney-client relationships as well as breaking rules of conduct that regulate attorneys in New Jersey.
“The decision to pursue a legal remedy is based on the unlawful hijacking of the name — Levinson Axelrod,“ said Thomas Cafferty, the attorney representing the law firm. “This site attempts to damage the firm’s reputation for his financial gain.“
But is it really for his financial gain? Heyburn claims no, it is only a hobby site. And regardless of the fact that LevinsonAxelrod.net is confusingly similar to LevinsonAxelrod.com, the contents of the website are in no way confusing.
Jonathan Bick, an adjunct professor at Rutgers Law School in Newark, weighed in on the matter, stating a lack of commercial intent is a defense against cybersquatting and trademark infringement:
“If he isn’t earning any money, just posting his opinion,“ says Bick, “then it will be more difficult for the law firm to show this was trademark infringement.“
What are your thoughts? Is this trademark infringement and cybersquatting? Or simply a case of hurt feelings?