Eric Goldman

Eric Goldman

Professor, Santa Clara University School of Law
Joined on September 11, 2003
Total Post Views: 433,612


Eric Goldman is a Professor of Law and Director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law.  Before he became a full-time academic in 2002, he practiced Internet law for 8 years in the Silicon Valley.  His research and teaching focuses on Internet, IP and advertising law topics, and he blogs on these topics at the Technology & Marketing Law Blog and the Tertium Quid blog at Forbes.  In 2012, Managing IP magazine named him to a shortlist of North American “IP Thought Leaders,” and in 2011, he received the “IP Vanguard” award (in the academic/public policy category) from the California State Bar’s IP Section.

Except where otherwise noted, all postings by Eric Goldman on CircleID are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Featured Blogs

Domain Name Registrar Isn’t Liable for Counterfeit Goods – InvenTel v. GoDaddy

InvenTel makes security cams for cars. It is trying to crack down on Chinese counterfeiters. It brought a prior lawsuit against a wide range of defendants, including GoDaddy. InvenTel voluntarily dismissed GoDaddy from that suit. It brought a second round of litigation involving a new counterfeit site allegedly by the same bad guys,, a domain name registered via GoDaddy. more

Global Content Removals Based on Local Legal Violations - Where are we Headed?

From the Internet's earliest days, the tension between a global communication network and local geography-based laws has been obvious. One scenario is that every jurisdiction's local laws apply to the Internet globally, meaning that the country (or sub-national regulator) with the most restrictive law for any content category sets the global standard for that content. If this scenario comes to pass, the Internet will only contain content that is legal in every jurisdiction in the world... more

Spam Arrest’s Sender Agreement Fails Because Email Marketer’s Employees Lacked Authority

People hate receiving spam, but most people stopped obsessing about spam a decade ago or more. In the interim, anti-spam filters have improved dramatically. Still, some anti-spammers hate spam so passionately -- or, perhaps, hope to put a little coin in their pockets -- that we still see a steady stream of lawsuits against email marketers. For the most part, those lawsuits don't win; in the past half-decade, repeat anti-spam plaintiffs have rarely won in court. more

Top Ten Internet Law Developments of 2012

I'm pleased to share my list of top 10 developments of 2012... I'm surprised whenever I read about a new European ruling that's adverse to a Silicon Valley company, because at this point I assume that everything Silicon Valley companies do in Europe is already illegal. Google, Facebook and other Silicon Valley players are under constant legal attack in Europe on countless fronts. Everyone might be happier if the Silicon Valley players just got out of Europe altogether. more

The Proposed “Cloud Computing Act of 2012,” and How Internet Regulation Can Go Awry

Sen. Amy Klobuchar has introduced a new bill, the "Cloud Computing Act of 2012" (S.3569), that purports to "improve the enforcement of criminal and civil law with respect to cloud computing." Given its introduction so close to the election, it's doubtful this bill will go anywhere. Still, it provides an excellent case study of how even well-meaning legislators can botch Internet regulation. more

“Can IP Be Protected in the Internet Age?” Panel Recap from Russian Economic Development Conference

In June, I attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum ("SPIEF"), organized by the Russian government's Ministry of Economic Development. This was a major event drawing thousands of participants to St. Petersburg... I participated on a panel entitled "Can IP Be Protected in the Internet Age?" Right away, I trust many of you find the titling odd... more

Wildcarding Subdomains Is OK; Reverse Domain Name Hijacking Isn’t - Goforit v. Digimedia

This is a super-interesting dispute involving two not-so-interesting litigants. The plaintiff Goforit runs a type of meta-search engine at After spending 5 minutes at the site, I couldn't identify a single reason why anyone would want to use it. Also inexplicably, Goforit appears to be quite pleased with its trademark rights in "Goforit," a term that seems more like an exhortation than a trademark. more

Funky Ninth Circuit Opinion on Domain Names and Nominative Use - Toyota v. Tabari

Every time I see a federal appellate opinion on domain names, I'm vaguely reminded of the Country Joe song I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag, whose course goes "And it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for?" Fortunately, domain name disputes do not lead to the senseless loss of life we experienced from the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, lengthy domain name litigation usually has little more strategic value. more

Google and China: Some General Thoughts

I have deferred blogging on the Google/China imbroglio for a few reasons. First, heavyweights such as Jonathan Zittrain have tracked International online censorship and online security issues more closely than I have. Second, after Google's provocative blog post, I wanted to see the facts develop rather than rely solely on Google's assertions. The spin doctors are now moving in, so the useful development of the factual record will be slowing down. more

10 Noteworthy Cyberlaw Developments of 2009

While I like John Ottaviani's perspectives on 2009's top Cyberlaw developments a lot, I independently developed my own top 10 list that has a different emphasis. You might enjoy the contrasts. My list... more

Google Confirms That Keyword Metatags Don’t Matter

Few Internet technologies have horked cyberlaw as much as keyword metatags. Back in the 1990s, some search engines indexed keyword metatags, which encouraged some websites to stuff their keyword metatags as a way of gaming the rankings. Judges took a dim view of this practice, largely because the surreptitious nature of keyword metatags seemed inherently sinister, regardless of their efficacy. In the interim, search engines wizened up. more

An End to Spam Litigation Factories? (Gordon v. Virtumundo)

When CAN-SPAM was passed in 2003, it was fairly clear that Congress wasn't trying to enable broad private enforcement. Everyone knew that rabid anti-spammers would seize any new statutory right for a litigation frenzy... Although I personally think Congress would better served all of us by omitting all private enforcement rights in CAN-SPAM, unquestionably the private rights in CAN-SPAM are drafted narrowly to prevent their abuses. That hasn't stopped some zealous anti-spammers from testing the limits of CAN-SPAM's private enforcement remedies anyway. more

Contributory Cybersquatting and the Impending Demise of Domain Name Proxy Services?

This case involves an alleged domain name theft. Solid Host is a web host and initial owner of the domain name, which it registered through eNom in 2004. Solid Host claims that in 2008, a security breach at eNom allowed an unknown interloper (Doe) to steal the domain name and move the registration to NameCheap. Doe also acquired NameCheap's "WhoisGuard" service, a domain name proxy service that masked Doe's contact information in the Whois database. Solid Host contacted Doe and sought the domain name; Doe asked for $12,000, and Solid Host took a pass... more

The Third Wave of Internet Exceptionalism

From the beginning, the Internet has been viewed as something special and "unique." For example, in 1996, a judge called the Internet "a unique and wholly new medium of worldwide human communication." The Internet's perceived novelty has prompted regulators to engage in "Internet exceptionalism," crafting Internet-specific laws that diverge from regulatory precedents in other media. Internet exceptionalism has come in three distinct waves... more

Domaining Registrar Defeats Cybersquatting Lawsuit: Philbrick v. eNom

Philbrick's Sports is a New Hampshire retailer of sporting goods. eNom's customer registered two domain name variants of Philbrick Sport's website. When the customer didn't pay eNom, eNom took the names back for itself... Each of these domain names were parked with Yahoo, who displayed sponsored ads on the domains. Philbrick's then sued eNom, claiming cybersquatting and trademark infringement. more

Outdated Whois Information Might Lead to False Light Tort: Meyerkord v. Zipatoni

It's a late entry, but this opinion may be a dark horse candidate for the most bizarre case of 2008. Meyerkord was a Zipatoni employee and listed as the registrant on domain names at Zipatoni's account. Meyerkord left in 2003. In 2006, Zipatoni ran an astroturfing viral campaign for Sony to promote the Play Station Portable at the domain Unfortunately for Sony -- and Meyerkord -- the campaign did not go well. more

Vulcan Golf v. Google Class Certification Denied

This is a complex lawsuit by trademark owners attacking domaining and the role of the Google AdSense for Domains program in funding domaining activity. When I first blogged on the case in 2007, I wrote: "the lawsuit could effectively fall apart if the judge rejects formation of a class. Trademark class action lawsuits are rare for good reason..." Last week, the court ruled on class certification, and perhaps not surprisingly, the court denied certification -- giving Google and the other defendants an early Christmas gift. more

Email Ad Network Isn’t Liable for Spam: Ferron v. Echostar

John Ferron is one of several "repeat" plaintiffs around the country suing over unsolicited email (perhaps not coincidentally, he's also an attorney). In this case, Ferron sued a variety of defendants associated with unsolicited email promoting dish satellite offerings for violations of Ohio's consumer protection law and the Electronic Mail Advertising Act (EMAA). more

Delayed Enforcement Blocks Domain Name Lawsuit: Southern Grouts v. 3M

I'm often baffled by lawsuits over domain names and keywords because they just don't seem to make any economic sense. This lawsuit is especially perplexing given the plaintiff's delays and the seeming impossibility of the plaintiff reaching a profitable outcome, even if it won in court. What was the plaintiff thinking? more

June Court Decision Detrimental to Domaining Practices

In a June court ruling, domainer Navigation Catalyst and registrar Basic Fusion lost a cybersquatting lawsuit to Verizon... This is an extremely interesting and potentially precedent-setting case regarding domaining and domain name tasting. The court condemns both practices, leading to a preliminary injunction against the domainer and its registrar based on the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). As far as I can recall, this is the first time that a domainer has lost an ACPA lawsuit in court, and it provides an important data point confirming that domaining can be cybersquatting (a previously unresolved issue)... more

CAN-SPAM Defendant Awarded $111k in Fees/Costs: Gordon v. Virtumundo

I believe this ruling represents the first time that a CAN-SPAM plaintiff has been ordered to pay attorneys' fees and costs to a defendant. As a result, it's a leading example that courts can and do grow tired of bogus anti-marketing lawsuits, and perhaps it will serve as an expensive warning to CAN-SPAM plaintiffs to ensure the merits of their lawsuit. Gordon is an uber anti-spam plaintiff, leading countless CAN-SPAM lawsuits. As the court describes, Gordon runs a "spam business"--basically, a for-profit plaintiff litigation shop to go after spammers (the court also calls it a "litigation factory")... more

Google Sued in Domainer Lawsuit: Vulcan Golf v. Google

Domainer litigation is heating up, and this lawsuit may be the most ambitious anti-domainer lawsuit to date. First, it is a putative class action lawsuit. Second, in addition to naming four leading domainer firms, the plaintiffs provocatively go after Google for providing ads to domainer sites. I believe this is the first lawsuit against Google for its domainer relationships. The complaint itself is a 121 page, 638 paragraph (with one paragraph enumerating 47 defined terms), 4.3MB behemoth alleging trademark infringement and dilution, ACPA violations, RICO and other claims. more

Domain Names Can’t Be Trespassed: v. YouTube

Boy, this case got a lot of attention when it was first filed (which isn't surprising; YouTube lawsuits usually do). You may remember the story: the plaintiff is a dealer of used tube mills, used pipe mills and used pollforming machines. The plaintiff operated a website at As you might expect, like most other industrial B2B vendors' websites, had a small but targeted audience. With the phenomenal and quick rise in popularity of YouTube, a lot of web users mistyped and entered instead, causing to suddenly experience disproportionate popularity. Unfortunately for the plaintiff, few of these visitors were interested in pollforming machines... The plaintiff sued YouTube for trademark infringement... more

Google Sued for Trademark Infringement Based on Third-Level Subdomain

It's no surprise that Google has been sued again for trademark infringement, but the basis of this lawsuit is surprising. Rather than another lawsuit over the sale of trademarked keywords to deliver ads (along the lines of the GEICO, American Blinds, Rescuecom and JTH Tax cases, or the dozens of international lawsuits), this lawsuit is based on a Blogspot blog URL. Because of its comparative novelty, this lawsuit raises some complex and unsettled legal issues. more

Does Online Privacy ‘Really’ Matter? ‘No’ According to Consumers

In introducing yet another online privacy bill, Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) claimed that "privacy fears are stifling the development and expansion of the Internet as an engine of economic growth." Certainly, surveys consistently show that consumers express concern about Internet privacy. But what do these surveys really prove? If consumers are really concerned about their online privacy, their behavior doesn't show it. Here's why... more