Bit Rate

Verizon 'Squatter' Swatted

12/24/2008 4:43 AM

Ho ho ho! Verizon’s active legal department got a Christmas Eve stocking stuffer, in the form of a $33.15 million judgment against a "cybersquatter" that had registered domain names that were identical or similar to the telco’s trademarks.

The default ruling – which Verizon claimed is the biggest award ever in a cybersquatting case – was entered against San Francisco-based domain-name registrar OnlineNIC by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
 
The telco alleged OnlineNIC had registered at least 663 Verizon-related domain names "designed to attract Web users who were seeking to access Verizon’s legitimate Web sites." These apparently included webverizon.net and verizonfiosinfo.com, according to the DomainTools.com archive.

The court calculated an award based on $50,000 per domain name. According to Verizon neither OnlineNIC nor counsel representing the company appeared in court in OnlineNIC’s defense; OnlineNIC didn’t respond to requests for comment. 

"This case should send a clear message and serve to deter cybersquatters who continue to run businesses for the primary purpose of misleading consumers," Verizon attorney Sarah Deutsch said in a statement.

A message could be all Verizon gets, as the telco may not actually be able to collect any money from OnlineNIC.

Separately, Verizon’s patent-infringement lawsuit against Charter — alleging the MSO’s voice services employ key VoIP-related patents owned by the telco — remains pending in a Texas court. (The court earlier this month granted a motion to suspend case deadlines through Dec. 31.) Cox, however, may have set a precedent by winning a jury decision in October against Verizon in an identical suit. 

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