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Libya loses anticybersquatting lawsuit

Libya and its embassy lose a domain name lawsuit that started well before Gaddafi’s overthrow.

A federal district court yesterday handed down a ruling in a very interesting cybersquatting case, and much of the interest lies in who the plaintiff was: Libya.

Back in 2006 The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Embassy of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya filed suit against Ahmad Miski for cybersquatting. (After the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s government, the plaintiffs names were changed to Libya and Embassy of Libya.)

The Libyan embassy was using the domain name LibyanBureau.com at the time, but now uses LibyaUSAEmbassy.com.

Defendant Ahmad Miski is an expeditor, similar to the people who help you get your passports quickly. Some of his work was expediting documents with the Embassy of Libya.

Miski registered the domains embassyoflibya.org, libyaembassy.com, libyaembassy.org, and libyanembassy.com and forwarded these to his web site, where he solicited clients for his expeditor services.

Libya alleged Miski was cybersquatting and that it had common law rights to the terms “Embassy of Libya” and “Libyan Embassy”.

The judge ruled that these marks were merely descriptive and that Miski was not guilty of cybersquatting.

Additionally, the judge noted that it was difficult for the embassy to prove continuous use of its supposed marks in the United States. In 1986 president Ronald Reagan issued executive orders prohibiting commercial trade and other transactions with Libya and its government and “blocked” Libyan government property located in the United States.

This case is interesting from the perspective of the “descriptive” ruling, but I also find it fascinating given the geopolitical circumstances.

Miski was represented by Eric Menhart of Lexero Law. You can read the court’s full decision here (pdf).

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