Academic journal article Journal of Corporation Law

The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act: Empowering Trademark Owners, but Not the Last Word on Domain Name Disputes

Academic journal article Journal of Corporation Law

The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act: Empowering Trademark Owners, but Not the Last Word on Domain Name Disputes

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION .........................................................................................................591

II. WHO ARE "CYBERSQUATTERS? ...................592

III. THE ANTICYBERSQUATTING CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT ................................595

A. Why Congress Deemed Legislative Action Necessary ..................................595

B. What Is Not New: The Anticybersquatting Cause of Action and Current Likelihood of Confusion Analysis ................ 596

1. Current Trademark Infringement Law .................596

2. The A CPA's Use of Likelihood of Confusion ............598

C. What Is New ........................................................................................................ 603

1. A Cybersquatter's Registration Alone Can Give Rise to Liability ......................................................................................................... 603

2. Protection of Personal Names ...................................................................... 604

3. In Rem Jurisdiction ..............606

4. Statutory Damages ........................................................................................ 607

D. What Is Left Unresolved ..................................................................................... 607

1. Initial-Interest Confusion .............................................................................. 607

2. Degree of Internet Users' Sophistication .........................609

IV. CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................ 611 I. INTRODUCTION

In some respects, the growth of the Internet has resembled the Wild West: individuals, governments, corporations, and other groups have dashed out to establish a presence on the electronic frontier.1 In some respects, space in this new frontier is limited, and thus can be a precious commodity.2 Not surprisingly, opportunists, legitimate or otherwise, are staking their claims. Some, anticipating another Gold Rush, have seized as much territory (i.e., domain names) as possible, not necessarily to put that territory to productive uses, but instead to profit from the late-comers who might eventually desire the now-occupied space. When a domain name has been reserved by someone with the intent of selling (at a great profit) the right to use that domain name, "cybersquatting" has occurred.3 Some businesses have found that their desired domain names have been occupied already. Thus, one encounters an intersection of the Internet and trademark law. Courts have dealt with numerous cases under the trademark infringement and dilution laws that involved uses of trademarks and service marks within domain names.

In response to the increasing frequency of domain name disputes and the harm that they are perceived to inflict upon the economy, Congress passed legislation designed both to benefit mark owners and to deter various unauthorized uses of protected marks: the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) 4 The ACPA creates a new cause of action against certain unauthorized mark users.s This cause of action is available in addition to existing actions under the trademark infringement and dilution laws.6 This Note will discuss how the ACPA defines "cybersquatting" and how that definition squares with those offered by commentators and the pre-ACPA courts7 After a brief distillation of current trademark protections, this Note will discuss what the ACPA adds to trademark law, beginning with the elements of the ACPA cause of action.8 The next section will provide an analysis of the ACPA's relationship to and effect upon the current state of trademark law, especially trademark infringement law.9 Finally, this Note discusses issues in domain name disputes that have divided the courts, but which the ACPA fails to address. …

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