Court Rules in BME.com Cybersquatting Case, Could Affect Domain Owners
Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
BME.com case ruling could affect domain owners.
A United States District Court ruling in a case between Gregory Ricks and BMEZine over the domain name BME.com has some interesting implications for domain name owners. (For background on the case, see Ricks Files Lawsuit to Retain Control of BME.com)
Without getting into all the details of what was argued, here are some of the court’s decisions (large pdf) worth noting:
1. The court held that a re-registration of a domain name is a “registration” for the purposes of the Anti-Cybersquatting Protection Act. In other words, if you registered a domain in 2000 and “re-registered” it (i.e. renewed) in 2004, both dates are relevant. A domain could be registered in good faith, but renewed in bad faith.
The Act provides no exception for re-registrations by the same owner. Any registration thus may bring the registrant within the statuteâ€™s purview. Congressional intent would be undermined by Ricksâ€™ proposed interpretation. If a domain name was registered in good faith originally, but thereafter re-registered in bad faith, the cybersquatter would escape liability, a result not supportable by the statutory scheme.
2. The court re-iterates that a domain name privacy service can be held liable for cybersquatting. As I’ve noted before, providing a whois privacy service isn’t free.
3. The court said that to successfully argue reverse domain name hijacking, you must show that your use of the domain name was not unlawful under ACPA — not the Lanham Act in general.
4. The court found that you are at least partially responsible for the content of your parked domain names since you can have some control over it.
Note that this is a court ruling under U.S. laws and does not make any interpretations of UDRP.