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Verizon Wins $33.2 Million In Largest Cybersquatting Award
Default judgment against OnlineNIC
encyclo

WebmasterWorld Senior Member encyclo us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 1:53 am on Dec 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Article [online.wsj.com]
Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) said it has been awarded $33.2 million in what it called the largest cybersquatting case, as a San Francisco firm registered Internet domain names Verizon said could be confused with ones held by the telecommunications giant. (...) The default ruling said the firm "unlawfully registered at least 663 domain names that were either identical to or confusingly similar to Verizon trademarks," according to Verizon. The company was awarded $50,000 per name for OnlineNIC's "bad-faith registrations" that were intended to steer traffic away from Verizon's sites, the company said.

 

Quadrille

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 8:38 am on Dec 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

Verizon, however, may not see any money, as registrar OnlineNIC never appeared in federal court in California to defend itself.

The US seems to have a legal system that does absolutely nothing except make lawyers rich(er).

What's the point?

Excuse the cynicism - I've just finished reading Grisham's "The Appeal"

rocker

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 1:57 pm on Dec 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

The practice was barred in the U.S. in 1999. After declining for several years, incidents began to rise in 2004 and have been climbing in recent years.

What a coincidence. It was January of 2004 when Google, through parking companies, allowed individuals to monetize from parked domains.

draggar

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 4:42 pm on Dec 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I wonder if anyone is ever going to go after the Golliaths in this (Google and Yahoo) since most "squatted" domains are parked with ads from these two entities (it would be funny to see Google sue itself :) ) - or would the next step be go after the parking companies?

I think onlineNIC is based in China so it will be nearly impossible for VZ to get the money

Chico_Loco

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 6:13 pm on Dec 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm not clear on why $50,000 per instance. Wouldn't Verizon have needed to prove that they were damaged sufficiently to warrant such compensation?

I doubt very much that such damage was done because if someone landed on those domains, they would probably quickly realize that they weren't at the real Verizon and so back-up and continue searching. Verizon would have ended up with the business anyway (unless these domains were offering phone/communications services).

I agree that they should have to hand over all domains containing "verizon", and perhaps even send all monetary gains yielded from the domains (the ad dollars), and maybe even cover attorney fees... but $33.2m doesn't sound like a fair judgement.

Of course, we've likely got a serious bout of inflation coming over the next 5-10 years or so thanks to the central bank's bail-out Bernanke and the treasury... so $33m will be the equivalent of about $5 in a few years - maybe they can pay it off plus interest if they just hold out a while :)

The tossers should have at least shown up to defend themselves though!

Quadrille

WebmasterWorld Senior Member quadrille us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 7:10 pm on Dec 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I wonder if anyone is ever going to go after the Golliaths in this (Google and Yahoo) since most "squatted" domains are parked with ads from these two entities

Are you sure?

I keep no scores, but my experience is that whenever I end up stranded on a crap parked domain, I also get crap 'search results' and crap 'sponsored listings' that are niether Y! or G - or anything of any quality whatsoever - I'd not be half so frustrated if I had Adsense, with at least a chance of a non-criminal advertiser.

Mind you, if I'm honest, I *never* click on ads on crap sites. Ever.

ispy



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 7:52 pm on Dec 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm not clear on why $50,000 per instance. Wouldn't Verizon have needed to prove that they were damaged sufficiently to warrant such compensation?

Unless is was punitive damages. The registrar earning off further search links on the landing page in bad faith or even links to the correct Verizon site.

The tossers should have at least shown up to defend themselves though!

It's possible the judge may have taken them into custody or otherwise secured some sort of payment arrangement, they do have a lot of leeway once you are in the courtroom. Showing up would have been a foolish decision without a defense.

signor_john



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 11:32 pm on Dec 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I wonder if anyone is ever going to go after the Golliaths in this (Google and Yahoo]

Google and Yahoo aren't responsible for the defendants' trademark infringement.

iThink

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 4:48 pm on Dec 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google and Yahoo aren't responsible for the defendants' trademark infringement.

Google and Yahoo do retain a part of the money made from clicks on from parking pages. If they are making money, then they can't claim ignorance or innocence.

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 4:57 pm on Dec 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm not clear on why $50,000 per instance. Wouldn't Verizon have needed to prove that they were damaged sufficiently to warrant such compensation?

That's pocket change compared to what some of those domains are/were making. That whole space is rife with this type of stuff. In fact I've seen companies like Verizon approve the use of a domain at one level and then disapprove it after the domain becomes highly visible. I work in this space and can tell you from experience that $50,000 per instance is nothing! Before all the package deals came into the picture, that space was the wild west and highly competitive and lucrative. It still is from what I hear. ;)

Wouldn't Verizon have needed to prove that they were damaged sufficiently to warrant such compensation?

I think that would be easy for them to do. They have affiliate statistics for reference. All they need to see are the metrics and they could easily come up with a flat sum across the board figure. They probably left a bunch of money on the table too.

Chico_Loco

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 5:04 pm on Dec 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Good stuff pageone, thanks for the insight!

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 5:24 pm on Dec 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

You're quite welcome! Let me add a bit more for those who may be dabbling in this space.

If you have a hostname (sub-domain) named after one of the high speed providers, you may receive a notification from someone like a Verizon to discontinue use of that hostname. If you start appearing in the first 30-50 results for name searches, you will most likely be served with either a brief email notification to discontinue or it could be a bit more harsh than that.

If you are appearing in the top ten for name searches, you are definitely on the radar and under review by the provider(s). I just did a search for the name Verizon as an example. The writing is on the wall as to what they are up to. There are multiple strategies at play and smart ones on their part. They are slowly weeding out the stuff they don't want in the SERPs. They need to protect their brand as it "was" getting way out of hand with the affiliate space. I'm sure it still is but this lawsuit surely tightens the reigns. When you do Verizon name searches, you'll most likely find Verizon properties and/or top Verizon affiliates.

This same process applies to the PPC side of things. They are also cracking down on the use of their brand(s) in PPC ads. That whole high speed internet space is being consolidated at the moment. The package deals offered by the providers themselves have allowed them to take control and now dictate what some of the affiliates can do. Heck, I've heard from someone who heard from someone else that they (the providers) may restrict bidding on certain keyword phrases. ;)

Chico_Loco

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 5:46 pm on Dec 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Interesting, now this may be off topic... but, I have to wonder what the ramifications would be if a Website were to rank highly in SERPS for a term such as "Verizon" purely as a consequence of inbound links only, where the offending term was not used on the page or in the domain. Not likely for such a competitive phrase,perhaps! Although, would Google's subjective view of relevance for the phrase be a basis for legal or other action?

Not sure I need an answer really - just thinking aloud!

kneukm03

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 6:36 pm on Dec 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

"Interesting, now this may be off topic... but, I have to wonder what the ramifications would be if a Website were to rank highly in SERPS for a term such as "Verizon" purely as a consequence of inbound links only, where the offending term was not used on the page or in the domain."

If you were directing the inbound links somehow (i.e., convincing people to link to your site using a trademarked term), you could probably be successfully sued. The general test in the U.S. is whether there is a likelihood of confusion - i.e., could consumers think that the person using the trademark is actually the trademark owner. If you have on-page stuff, you're probably fine - i.e. your "Verizon Cell Phone Service Review Page" isn't going to be mistaken by anyone for something by Verizon.

If you're convincing someone to link to your site using "Verizon," though, they have a decent argument: the person on the linking page only sees the word "Verizon." They can't see your page until they get to it, so they don't know it's not the actual Verizon page until they arrive there. I personally never use trademarks in any of the links I'm asking people to get, just because the risk is too high.

np2003

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 1:36 pm on Dec 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't understand why they went after OnlineNIC and not GoDaddy, or countless other domain registrars. Basically, when a domain name expires, these domain registrars re-point the nameserver/NS back to them and just show random ads to make money off them. Many of these domains are registered on behalf of their customers?

ogletree

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ogletree us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 10:11 pm on Jan 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

This pretty much means nothing. They will never get the money from China and no judge can force a domain to be shut down or transferred. I'm pretty sure the only way to get a domain is to go through the ICANN process.

davezan

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 9:37 am on Jan 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

no judge can force a domain to be shut down or transferred.

Ogletree, that's happened a few times. Look up the Wikileaks and Kentucky cases,
albeit one was resolved while the other is pending.

David

IanTurner

WebmasterWorld Administrator ianturner us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 3:17 pm on Jan 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

The tossers should have at least shown up to defend themselves though!

I think onlineNIC is based in China so it will be nearly impossible for VZ to get the money

Why should a company which is acting legally under their own countries jurisdiction take any notice of a court case in a foreign country - when they have no operations in that country.

In this case it is a registrar that is not based in the US so I too think that the case would need to be taken through ICANN. And if the US legal system puts pressure on ICANN then ICANN should move its operations out of the US.

Chico_Loco

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3814163 posted 3:27 pm on Jan 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

Why should a company which is acting legally under their own countries jurisdiction take any notice of a court case in a foreign country - when they have no operations in that country.

I thought the defendant was from San Fran? And I know Verizon is in the US.

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