Suit claims registrar parked trademarked domain names for the period between expiration and deletion.
Verizon has a filed a lawsuit (pdf) against domain name registrar DirectNIC and related companies, alleging that the defendants parked expired domain names infringing on Verizon’s trademarks in the period between expiration and deletion.
The lawsuit also names directors of DirectNIC and related companies as defendants, and uses a gripe site and UDRP decisions as part of the basis for linking together the company with a number of other entities, which the suit calls “shell companies”.
Verizon claims that the defendants have registered 288 domain names that infringe on its marks. But the crux of its argument is that DirectNIC became, in effect, the registrant of these domain names for the period between when the domain names expired and were deleted. The Verizon lawsuit also claims that the defendants then transferred some of these expired domains to other entities for a fee prior to deletion.
Most major registrars replace the whois information for expired domain names with their own information or domain privacy, and often times display some sort of message about the domain being expired. During this period, the registrar places a parked page on the domain name. The domains are later auctioned off or transferred to other entities.
For example, Network Solutions places a notice and parked page on expired domain names. It then sends the domain name to an auction on NameJet. If there’s a buyer, the domain is then transferred to the new owner. Some domain registrars also have deals with buyers to sell domains to them outside of the auction process.
It’s not clear why Verizon sued DirectNIC and related other companies rather than a competitor. Verizon makes a lot of allegations in the lawsuit linking the defendants together, even though the point of the lawsuit doesn’t seem to address these linked entities and instead goes after the practice of parking expired domain names.
Depending on the outcome, this suit could have ramifications for most major domain name registrars and their expired domain parking practices, let alone “coming soon” placeholder pages.