Typo-Squatting Infringes the Anti-Cybersquatting Protection Act
On September 1, 2006, a U.S. District Court in Wisconsin, decided that the Defendants, a group of the Plaintiff’s affiliates, acted in bad faith when they used typo-squatting to generate revenue on the Plaintiff’s sales by linking to their commercial website. In the case of Lands' End, Inc. v. Remy, the Defendants were accused of acting in bad faith when they attempted to gain extra commissions from the Plaintiff’s affiliate program via its website, www.landsend.com. Lands' End sued under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, [15 U.S.C. §1125(d)] ("ACPA"). The Defendants argued that they did not act in bad faith, however, the court did not agree.
Lands' End maintains an affiliate program whereby links to their website were provided through pre-approved “affiliate” websites. Each referring affiliate would receive a commission on sales made on landsend.com in return for the referral. The Defendants were four separate affiliates, all pre-approved by the Plaintiff. In addition to the other domain names that were approved and listed as affiliates, the Defendants further registered domain names similar to landsend.com without the Plaintiff’s knowledge or permission. Allegedly, the defendants created a system that would automatically and invisibly redirect Internet uses to the official Lands' End site, generating a commission for their pre-approved domain and additional commission from the other misspelled domains. When the Plaintiffs became aware of this situation, they sued the Defendants for false advertising, breach of contract, fraud, and violations of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.
Although the Defendants claimed that they did not act in bad faith because they did not divert customers but had actually generated more sales for the Plaintiff, the court rejected the Defendants' contentions, stating that the Plaintiffs supplied the court with enough evidence to prove that the Defendants impermissibly used the Plaintiffs trademark by registering misspells of the “LANDS END” trademark to then gain additional referral commissions.
REF: Sedo News letter:
Monthly Update on Domain-Related Legal News
By Sheri Archidiacono, Esq, L.L.M Legal Counsel