Facebook wins $2.8 million in California cybersquatting case

Facebook lawyers recently walked away from a California courtroom with a $2.8 million dollar victory. All of the named parties in the cybersquatting case were default defendants; they didn’t respond to legal actions or show up in court.

The judge in the domain name dispute chided the social media giant’s lawyers for failing to sort the 11 defendants’ misconduct into bad, worse and egregious categories.

The court designed a formula to break down violations according to the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and award damages. Facebook had requested $100,000 for each of the 105 infringing domain names.

The judge said each defendant willfully acted in bad faith to take advantage of Facebook’s trademark. Damages were dependent upon actions: the number of infringing registries, domain activity, concealed registration, the direct or indirect rip off of the Facebook name, and evidence of “serial” cybersquatting.

Damages ranged from as little as $5,000 per domain for ownership of up to nine infringing domains. Violators with 40 to 49 registries, the highest among defendants, were liable for $25,000 per domain.

Damages were doubled for defendants with histories of repeated cybersquatting. Double damages also applied to defendants who deceived Internet users by redirecting them to landing sites that appeared to be Facebook owned.

The court also made damage distinctions between infringers who registered domains with the correct and incorrect spellings of “Facebook.” All defendants apparently engaged in typosquatting. Added damages were tacked on to infringers who used the correct spellings of “Facebook” and other domain name words.

Damages totals for individual defendants varied, from $5,000 for a single violation up to $1.3 million for multiple infringing offenses. The biggest violator was Newgate with 47 infringing registries and four domains that sent unwitting users to a Cleanser Product site.

Intellectual property attorneys advise businesses on method cybersquatters use to steal profits. The knowledge helps California businesses design effective strategies to protect themselves.

Source:  thedomains.com, “Facebook CyberSquatting Judgement: 105 Domains; 10 Domain Holders; $2.8 Million in Damages – Draft” Michael Berkens, May. 01, 2013