California cybersquatting suit filed by ex-‘Jersey Shore’ star

California businesses outsource website development and maintenance, because owners lack the time or knowledge to do the jobs themselves. A third party may have full control of a client’s online presence, from purchasing domains to the design and content of a website. The strength of a business contract keeps one party from taking advantage of another.

Painted Nail is a salon in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Sherman Oaks. The nail business is owned by a former MTV reality show personality, Katie Cazorla of “Jersey Shore.” Cazorla and her record-producer boyfriend made a deal with the Canadian-born owner of Digital Welders.

In a 2012 trade deal, the website design company promised to obtain and create websites for the couple’s business interests. In exchange, Cazorla’s boyfriend agreed to produce demos for the daughter of Digital Welders’ owner. Last summer, the couple also handed over $13,000 to the website designer for maintenance and the work he had done, including the purchase of five domains.

The relationship between the website administrator and the couple soured in March. According to a $100,000 cybersquatting lawsuit, the owner of Digital Welders altered the couple’s websites and refused to release Cazorla’s domains to her. The federal complaint claims the website designer is holding the nail salon domains hostage and plans to flee the country to avoid litigation.

The website for Cazorla’s Paint Nail, featured on the TV Guide Network’s show “Nail Files,” was emptied of content. The reality show actress has no administrative access to the site, which contains new contact data and links to KatieCazorla.com. The plaintiff’s domain dispute includes a request for a permanent injunction.

A domain name dispute may allege the owner of a website profited from a plaintiff’s trademark. A court must be convinced the defendant acted in bad faith to award damages. One consideration is whether the property within the domain belonged to a registrant.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “'Jersey Shore' Folks Can't Stay out of Court” Matt Reynolds, Mar. 24, 2014

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