GoDaddy Kicks Contributory Cybersquatting Ass Like It Knows it Should

Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), a major oil and gas company, owns the trademark PETRONAS.  GoDaddy.com, Inc. is a domain name registrar, “Helping you kick ass in your venture. Like you always knew you could, like you told ‘em you would.”  Petronas sued GoDaddy for contributory cybersquatting when GoDaddy took no action regarding an alleged cybersquatter using GoDaddy’s registration and forwarding services in the cybersquatting activities.  A cybersquatter is someone who registers “a domain name associated with a protected trademark either to ransom the domain name to the mark holder or to divert business from the mark holder.”  (Opinion pdf page 8).  In this case, the cybersquatter registered the domain names “petronastower.net” and “petronastowers.net” and forwarded traffic to those domains names to an adult website.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:

We hold that the ACPA [Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act] does not include a cause of action for contributory cybersquatting because: (1) the text of the Act does not apply to the conduct that would be actionable under such a theory; (2) Congress did not intend to implicitly include common law doctrines applicable to trademark infringement because the ACPA created a new cause of action that is distinct from traditional trademark remedies; and (3) allowing suits against registrars for contributory cybersquatting would not advance the goals of the statute.

(Opinion pdf page 8).

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