Eric Goldman at the Technology & Marketing Law Blog has a post about the recent ACPA injunction entered against Navigation Catalyst Systems and registrar Basic Fusion. Mr. Golman states that this is the first decisions against a "domainer" which of course raises the issue of definition. What is a domainer?
Technology & Marketing Law Blog: Domainer Loses Cybersquatting Lawsuit--Verizon v. Navigation Catalyst Systems
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). I also believe that this is the first time a domain name registrar has lost an ACPA lawsuit. Although the court wasn't asked to assess damages (it was just an injunction request), it's clear from the strongly worded opinion that Verizon will get paid if the case gets that far. As a result, this is a major loss for domainers and might very well force them to change their practices.
The defendants are Navigation Catalyst Systems, a domainer, and Basic Fusion, its registrar. Navigation Catalyst Systems engaged in some common domainer practices, including:
* high volume automated domain name tasting. Many of the registered domains have nothing to do with anyone's trademark, but some were typographical error versions of Verizon's trademarks (allegedly, nearly 1400 were variations of Verizon's trademarks)
* trademark "scrubbing" of domain names during the tasting period (both an automated blacklist and a manual review)
* disabling ads on any challenged domains and offering to transfer those domain names to the trademark owner.
All of the attributes above might be indicia of cybersquatting, but do not describe a domainer. A domainer is someone who registers generic, descriptive or even arbitrary words, to the extent they are not trademark protected, for resale, development or advertising revenue. A cybersquatter is someone who registers trademark protected domains to divert traffic from trademark holders. Most legitimate domainers I know consider Navigation Catalyst Systems to be a black hat cybersquatting company.
Technorati Tags: cybersquatting, verizon, navigation catalyst, ACPA, Domain disputes