Trump wins cybersquatting suit but not the damages he wanted

It’s not easy, even for some of the wealthiest Los Angeles residents, to identify with Donald Trump. The man’s fortune is in a financial stratosphere all its own. However, if you own or manage a business, you certainly can understand the importance of winning a domain name dispute.

Donald Trump’s recent court victory probably was more satisfying emotionally than financially. The billionaire scored $32,000 in a cybersquatting countersuit initiated by a 34-year-old domain collector. Trump was upset the man owned four domains containing his trademarked name.

Cybersquatters buy domain names that include or resemble trademarks and often use them as leverage to profit from the trademarks’ owners. Some website owners with cybersquatting intent develop trademark knock-off websites and make money through advertising or sales. Embattled businesses sometimes prefer to purchase the sites rather than incur court costs.

The “domainer,” as he calls himself, argued the websites – trumpindia.com, trumpabudhabi.com, trumpmumbai.com and trumpbeijing.com – parodied the businessman. The sites also included the site owner’s none-too-friendly comments about Trump’s “Apprentice” television shows. The sites were put together in 2007, about the same time Trump was expanding his real estate empire into Southeast Asia.

Trump’s attorneys said the website owner violated the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. Trump asked the court for $400,000, equal to $100,000 for each website. A New York Daily News report said the federal judge felt the request was unreasonable.

The newspaper said the judge agreed to force the “domainer” to turn over the websites to Trump, but ordered damages that reflected the defeated man’s financial “realities.” The judge said the lower award would be a sufficient deterrent. Trump’s lawyers complained the damages wouldn’t even cover the billionaire’s legal bill.

Businesses have options after a cybersquatting attack. You can cut a deal to claim your property or take the fight to court. In either case, an Internet law attorney’s advice can be invaluable.

Source: CNN, “Trump awarded damages in 'cybersquatting' case over domain names” Haley Draznin, Mar. 02, 2014