Donald Trump pushes alleged cybersquatter to court challenge

An ex-Marine has become the legal target of billionaire businessman Donald Trump. Trump wants what probably amounts to pocket change — $400,000 — from a self-proclaimed “domainer” who bought up Internet addresses that employ Trump’s highly-recognized brand and name.

Los Angeles companies are familiar with the damage illegal cybersquatting can cause. Individuals purchase domain names containing well-known trademarks with the intent of making a profit, frequently by selling the domain to the trademark owner. Trump apparently would rather fund a domain dispute than buy out the website addresses from the current owner.

Trump has tried since 2011 to get the 33-year-old to turn over ownership of four domain names, which “The Donald” claims break federal cybersquatting laws. The ex-marine refuses to comply, claiming Trump uses “frivolous” legal actions to intimidate people.

The man, who serves as his own legal counsel, argues that he has the right to retain the domain names he bought in 2007. The former Marine apparently uses the four websites to post comments about Trump’s “Apprentice” television series. A disclaimer is included that disassociates the often-critical posts from the Trump Organization.

Trump alleges the current owner of domains like trumpindia.com is a blatant cybersquatter. The ex-marine denies he ever tried to make money from the sale of the names of Trump, although the man apparently has written and done plenty to provoke the billionaire’s famous fury.

Damages of $100,000 per domain name were requested in Trump’s recent counterclaim. Within days of the filing, all four of the Trump-named websites were shut down. The man still holds the ownership of about 200 other domains, some with clearly-recognizable connections like goldmansachsgroup.com.

The federal Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act is intended to keep Internet profiteers from infringing upon company trademarks. Some companies think it is easier and cheaper to pay off cybersquatters than fight them in a courtroom. Intellectual property experts say the practice only encourages illegal Internet activity.

Source: wtvr.com, “Trump seeks damages in ‘cybersquatting’ case,” Laura Ly, March 31, 2013