Company wants control of CoolMathGames.com, which Vertical Axis might have leased to another party.
If you’ve ever stumbled upon a site in the CoolMath.com network of websites, you probably thought you had taken a trip back to the 1990s. With black backgrounds and neon graphics, all that’s missing are spinning logos.
But the network is big. Really big. Coolmath-Games.com alone had 677 million visits between June 2013 and June 2014.
Now CoolMath.com, LLC is suing to get control of Vertical Axis’ domain name CoolMathGames.com, citing the Anticybersquatting Protection Act.
The facts aren’t as simple as they originally seem, and the case should serve as a warning to those that lease domain names.
CoolMath.com originally sued (pdf) Michael Gargiulo and “John Doe” in June. It believed they owned the site. Gargiulo responded that he was a member of A Aron LLC, and said that A Aron LLC merely leased and developed the domain name.
While CoolMath.com LLC negotiates with Gargiulo, it has filed an in rem suit (pdf) against the domain name itself.
According to the complaint filed earlier this month, Vertical Axis (a company owned by domain investor Kevin Ham) registered the domain name in 2001. That’s after CoolMath.com existed, but before it started its CoolMath-Games.com site. (I suspect the reason the company chose the hyphenated domain name was because Vertical Axis already owned the unhyphenated version).
CoolMath.com alleges that Vertical Axis merely parked the domain name for more than 12 years. That changed this year, which is why the company is now suing to get the domain name.
According to the suit, Vertical Axis launched a site at the domain in early February that mimicked the look and feel of CoolMath.com sites. Indeed, there’s at least a passing resemblance between the colors, logo and style of the pages.
From the first suit against Gargiulo, it appears that it was his company behind the site’s development, not Vertical Axis. In an affidavit (pdf), he defended the choice of colors and style as being similar to other popular sites.
CoolMath.com says that consumers, including the children that visit its site, are confused. It also alleges that the site (since taken down) includes “gun games and others which promote violence”.
A developer told CoolMath.com about the site in May, saying he had been contacted by an individual at CoolMathGames.com. Who that individual is, and whether he was with A Aron LLC or Vertical Axis, is unclear.
The company tried to get the site taken down. In response, it alleges that Vertical Axis offered to lease the domain name for $20,000 per month. It’s unclear at this point whether the lessee made that offer or it it was Vertical Axis itself.
The second lawsuit is an in rem suit against just the domain name, so CoolMath.com isn’t requesting any damages in that suit. It just wants the domain name.