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Verizon vs. iREIT et al Court Documents: What Can We Learn?

Verizon filed sued against iREIT and Domain Marketplace a couple of weeks ago in a Texas court, alleging cybersquatting. David Kesmodel’s blog broke the story, and I used the PACER system to obtain the court filings, which are posted here.

Exhibit 5 makes fascinating reading, especially when point #43 in the main statement of claim says “Exhibit 5 details only one famous trademark for each letter of the alphabet.”

While no one likes lawsuits, and these allegations have yet to be proven in a court of law, I think this case demonstrates an evolution of strategies by businesses who’ve seen the shortcomings of the UDRP. Instead of filing a UDRP to only win back the relevant domain name(s) despite spending a lot in arbitration fees, filing an action in court for statutory damages might make a lot more sense. Microsoft and Neiman Marcus have been successful with that strategy too, see:

NameKing.com Suspends Domain Tasting
Microsoft Sues Maltuzi, Others
Dotster: We Halted Domain “Tasting” in November

As UDRP reform is discussed in the future within ICANN and the GNSO, I think the lessons learned from these lawsuits should be kept in mind, and be considered failures of the policy (i.e. UDRP not being strong enough to discourage large-scale trademark infringement). Ways should be considered to prevent bad actors from hiding behind the UDRP, and allow businesses to efficiently pursue these matters at low cost. For every Verizon out there, there are probably thousands of other potential damaged parties who’ve not filed UDRPs or lawsuits due to complexity and cost.

By George Kirikos, President, Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc.

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Comments

John Berryhill  –  Apr 11, 2007 3:45 AM

One mark per letter of the alphabet?

Hmmm… So Verizon wants Verisingn.com and Verisin.com.  Now there’s a conflict that’s just been waiting to happen.

George Sesterhen  –  May 3, 2007 8:48 PM

Verizon should spend more time working on their customer service and looking at their own marketing practices.  They’ve been purchasing competitors’ names as keywords for paid search marketing efforts and I’m assuming this lawsuit will backlash on them as other companies will sue them to protect their brand name.

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