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I purchased a domain name of familyguyonfox.com. Is this copyright infringement if I try to sell it?

Phoenix, AZ |
Attorney answers 3

Posted

NO. It's not copyright infringement. It does, however, appear to be cybersquatting, trademark infringement, servicemark infringement, fraud, trademark dilution and unfair competition if you try to sell it. You are seriously illegal and need to get an attorney's advice. You should abandon the domain to mitigate your damages before before FOX gets wind of this and tracks you down. What a dumb stunt!

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

$100K or more in damages is already in your future unless you drop this pronto. See as a for instances http://blog.internetcases.com/2009/03/10/cybersquatter-hit-with-maximum-penalty/

Posted

By itself, a domain name registration is unlikely to result in a claim of copyright infringement. However, it may give rise to the claim of cybersquatting, regardless of whether you try to sell it or not. Cybersquatting under the ACPA requires a showing that the offending domain name was registered or trafficked or used in bad faith. Registering a domain name simply to park it rather than use it could be considered bad faith, but using the domain name for a website that comments on the Family Guy TV show could be considered a good-faith use. It depends on the specific facts. In addition to cybersquatting suit under federal law, there may also be unfair competition violations under state law, or an arbitration to have ICANN transfer the domain name in a UDRP action filed with WIPO. You need to consult with a trademark attorney if you are concerned about your domain name registration.

This answer is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as specific legal advice regarding your question. The answer could be different if all of the facts were known. This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

I think this asker is going to be hearing from Mei-lan Stark at Fox after the holidays.

James Juo

James Juo

Posted

Maybe not. A whois search suggests that the domain name registration was purchased on Dec 27, 2012, and has since been dropped. The last update was on Dec 30, 2012, presumably the date the registration was dropped. This suggests that the registrant was a cybersquatter who got the message and got scared straight.

Posted

Your purchase of this infringing domain name constitutes a violation of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, § 43(d) of the Lanham Act. This domain names appears on its face to be confusingly similar to the FOX mark and the Family Guy mark, to create a false association with the same, and to have been registered as a domain name long after those marks became famous and distinctive. Assuming as much, your purchase and use of this domain would therefore constitute trademark infringement, willful false designation of origin and unfair competition under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C §§1114 and 1125(a), entitling FOX to (1) injunctive relief pursuant to 15 U.S.C §1116, Section 34 of Lanham Act; and (2) monetary relief pursuant to 15 U.S.C §1117, Section 35 of the Lanham Act equal to three times the amount of your profits or their damages, whichever is greater, plus their reasonable attorney’s fees. You need to consult counsel and obtain advice.

The information that is placed in this response is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship with Thomas P. Howard, Esq., nor is it intended to be relied upon as a replacement for legal advice from an attorney.

James Juo

James Juo

Posted

In a recent 9th Circuit decision, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. v. Tabari, 610 F.3d 1171 (9th Cir. 2010), the court suggested that buy-a-lexus.com was nominative fair use so long as it’s unlikely to cause confusion as to sponsorship or endorsement. Although I suspect that the asker has gone over the line for cybersquatting, the limited facts in the question are insufficient to reach any conclusion that there has been a violation of the Lanham Act.

Thomas Porter Howard

Thomas Porter Howard

Posted

James - I agree with you that the facts provided are extremely limited. That said, we seem to be looking at the attempted purchase and sale of a famous mark for the purpose of making a profit. It would seem to be difficult to argue the fair use exemption under those facts. Also, while it seems unlikely on its face that FOX and this asker would be confused by the public, the risk of search engine confusion created by this particular domain -- which incorporates two separate well known marks -- strikes me as very high.

James Juo

James Juo

Posted

To clarify, my suspicion is that the asker has engaged in cybersquatting. Luckily for the asker, no smoking gun admissions were made in his/her public posting (and the asker should keep it that way). If I represented the producers of the Family Guy or Fox, however, I would assume the asker is guilty until I see evidence to the contrary. As a disinterested observer, although I can imagine plausible scenarios that would past muster, I am doubtful that the domain name was registered in good faith (but I am willing to keep an open mind and not jump to conclusions).

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

I have no difficulty jumping to the conclusion of cybersquatting. The asker is dumb enough to broadcast what he did here on Avvo. That tells me he (or she) is dumb enough to think cybersquatting is OK. Perhaps the asker will get the message before Attorney Stark as Fox Entertainment gets wind of it, but I have my doubts.

James Juo

James Juo

Posted

It's the holidays, and I am trying not to be cynical and to give the benefit of the doubt (whether deserved or not). I'm tryin' ... I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd...

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