When can registering a domain potentially violate the Anti-Cyber Squatting Act and/or infringe another’s trademark rights?

Registering domains that are common misspellings or derivatives of an established trademark, such as: www.ccoke.com, www.coca-cola.com, and www.coke-cola.com is a recipe for liability.  In the internet context, an individual’s intentional registration of www.ccoke.com, www.coca-cola.com, and www.coke-cola.com, knowing that they are another individual’s valuable trademark weighs in favor of finding bad faith and trademark infringement.  Trans Union LLC v. Credit Research Inc., 142 F. Supp.2d 1029, (7th Cir. 2001); and PACCAR, 115 F. Supp.2d at 779. 

These domains contain all the same characters and give off the same commercial impression as “Coke” and “Coca-Cola.”  This is an indication that the domains were acquired to either divert traffic and customers, or to try and sell the domains to the owner of the mark.  See  Mastercard International Corporation Inc., 629 F. Supp.2d 824, 831-32, (N.D. Ill. 2009); Nike Inc., 318 F. Supp.2d 688, 691-2, (N.D. Ill. 2004) and 15 USC 1125 (D) (B) (1).

Moreover, registering multiple sets of domains that are derivatives of another’s trademarks is a venture fraught with significant risk.  Registering multiple domains that violate another’s trademarks is indicative of bad faith, and can result in liability under the Anti-Cyber Squatting provision of the Lanham Act. See Mastercard International Corporation Inc., 629 F. Supp.2d 824, 831-2, (N.D. Ill. 2009); Nike Inc., 318 F. Supp.2d 688, 691-2, (N.D. Ill. 2004) and 15 USC 1125 (D) (B) (i) (VIII). 

If you have any concerns or questions regarding whether or not someone has infringed your trademark rights, is a Cyber Squatter, or whether or not you will infringe the trademark rights of another by acquiring and registering an internet domain; then please feel free to contact me.

Also see: TransUnion Case and MasterCard Case.

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