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04|15|2008 12:29 pm EDT

Vulcan Case Moves Forward

by Adam Strong in Categories: Miscellaneous

The Vulcan Golf vs Google et al (including IREIT, Dotster, Sedo and Oversee) case has been green-lighted by the court to move forward. However the court has ruled in favor of the defendants to dismiss some of the other charges including the conspiracy, consumer fraud and RICO charges

The court has made a ruling that will potentially have a great impact on all domain name owners, parking companies and search engines. According to the judges ruling :

It is plausible that the [plaintiffs’] allegations fall under the ACPA prohibition of “trafficking in,” which is defined by the ACPA as engaging in ‘transactions that include, but are not limited to, sales, purchases, loans, pledges, licenses, exchanges of currency, and any other transfer for consideration or receipt in exchange for consideration.” 15 USC(d)(1)(E)

This means that the Anit-Cybersquatting Protection Act is being interpreted to apply not only to those who own the domain names and engage in cybersquatting but also anyone that would be profiting (trafficking) from the domains. The case is proceeding because the court was not compelled by the defense arguments that their processes were automated and that their involvement in the alleged cybersquatting was minimal.

“Google pays registrants for its use of the purportedly deceptive domain names, provides domain performance reporting, participates in the tasting of domain names, uses semantics technology to analyze the meaning of domain names and select revenue maximizing advertisements and controls and maintains that advertising.”

Sarah Bird has written a great analysis of the case at SEOMoz and discusses what’s next and what the case could mean to domainers and the domain monetization business.It’s well worth the read.

The bottom line: You don’t have to own or register the domain to have potential liability for cybersquatting under ACPA. As far as I know, this is the first case to make such a ruling. In every other ACPA case that I know of, the defendant owned or registered the domain, usually in addition to trafficking in it.

Sarah’s most important point is that the plaintiffs in this case have “an uphill battle” and a “long way to go” in proving that Google and the parking companies acted in bad faith and knowingly were infringing on the trademarks. This case will surely change the strategies and monetization of domain names at search engines, especially when pertaining to potentially infringing domains, but it will also radically redefine what the scope of cybersquatting.

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1 Comment


April 16, 2008 @ 12:35 pm EDT

Sigh. Some days, I feel like I picked the worst possible time to enter this business. Every day, it seems like there is more bad news for domainers.

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