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Google Wins Trademark Dispute Against ‘Cybersquatter’

Friday May 18, 2012 at 12:17pm
The United States National Arbitration Foundation (NAF) recently ruled in Google’s favour regarding over 750 internet domain names that were deemed to be in violation of their internationally recognised trademark.

The respondent to Google’s complaints, Chris Gillespie, spent over £6,000 buying up names that involved the word “Google” and other trademarks, celebrity names, and keywords. His aim was to drum up traffic for his own websites, which are a soon-to-be online “gay network.” The result of the NAF’s rulings has given Google ownership of domains such as googlehonda.com, googleprophetmuhammad.com, googledonaldtrump.com, and googlecoors.com, and hundreds more.

Cybersquatting

Gillespie has been branded as a ‘cybersquatter,’ which is anyone who buys up domains containing company names with the hopes of profiting from the goodwill of the firm’s trademark. International car rental company Hertz, makeup company Avon, and even electronics giant Panasonic have all been ‘victims’ of cybersquatting in the past, as they didn’t register their Internet domain names before other enterprising individuals got to them first.

These companies were forced to buy the domain names back from their cybersquatters, but Google has managed to get a victory over what they called “one of the most aggressive campaigns of domain name infringement” that they had ever encountered.

Retaliation

All 750 websites pushed traffic towards an adults-only website, tgn.xxx, prompting Google to argue that their trademark was being used to promote pornographic material. However, Gillespie argued that he only redirected traffic to his .xxx site in order to measure traffic for his burgeoning online enterprise.

In retaliation, Chris Gillespie has filed for the registered trademark “Google” to be stricken from the books, as he argues that the term has now come to mean a generic word for “online search.”

Despite his protests, the NAF panel ruled that Google has sought and won trademark rights in many more nations than just the US. They also looked at the criteria for cybersquatting and ruled that all three pertained to Gillespie:

  1. The domains bought and registered by Gillespie are “identical or confusingly similar to a trademark” for which Google has exclusive legal rights.
  2. He had no “rights or legitimate interests” in the domain names.
  3. Gillespie registered and used the domain names in “bad faith.”

These three criteria caused the NAF to rule in Google’s favour, showing how important it is for all firms to seek out legal protection against “bad faith” entrepreneurs with trademark registration.
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