Microsoft has filed a trademark infringement and cybersquatting lawsuit against a California dentist who has registered more than 40 Internet domains with names similar to the software maker's trademarks, product names and brands.This appears to be a case where an unsuspecting dentist registered infringing domains knowing nothing about cybersquatting, domain or anti-cybersquatting laws. The cybersquatting complaint is a slam dunk. The dentist registered domains which obviously infringe on Microsoft's trademarks including: aMicrosoftShop.com, aMicrosoftStore.com, XboxOutlet.info and XboxMarket.mobi.
Microsoft claims Said operates the domains in a deliberate attempt to confuse Web surfers looking for the company's products. "The person has been diverted from the Microsoft Web site he or she was seeking to visit, and Microsoft has lost the opportunity to interact with that person," the company claims in the lawsuit, which was filed in August. Said profits from the misdirection because his Web sites contain advertising for non-Microsoft products, Microsoft claims. The company has asked the court to order Said to pay it up to $100,000 per infringing domain plus additional damages. It also wants control of the domain names. Said, who operates a clinic called North Tustin Dental Associates in North Tustin, CA, did not return a telephone call seeking comment. Microsoft's lawsuit against Said is part of a larger campaign by the company to combat cybersquatting. The practice "increases the risk that consumers will be led to fraudulent Web sites," said a Microsoft spokeswoman. The company has filed several lawsuits against cybersquatters in recent years. Microsoft estimates that 24% of all .com and .net domain names are "parked" by cybersquatters. Many of the sites exist simply to redirect traffic to third parties who hawk goods -- often software -- over the Internet. Congressed passed the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act in 1999. The law makes individuals who register infringing domain names liable to civil suits from the trademark holder.[read more cybersquatting here]
Many cybersquatters are in fact people who intentionally target famous trademarks not knowing it is illegal. It will be interesting to see how heavy handed Microsoft will be against the group of non-professional cybersquatters. Recall Ford Motor company took an aggressive stance against everyone who held what they believed to be trademarked domains irrespective of circumstance. Will Microsoft do the same or simple 'settle' for return of the domains which infringe their trademarks?