CHANEL SCORES VICTORY IN CYBERSQUATTER CASE
Byline: Peter Braunstein
NEW YORK — Fashion house Chanel, well known for its pursuit of parties it believes are encroaching on its trademark name, won a lawsuit on Tuesday against a cybersquatter that had registered Chanel-derived domain names for two Web sites.
Cybersquatting refers to the practice of registering Web site addresses that use names and brands that are controlled by other individuals or business entities, with the intention of later selling those names back to their trademark owners at highly inflated prices.
Chanel had filed the complaint against Estco Technology Group, a Bethesda, Md.-based outfit that claimed to be planning an Internet directory for retailers of designer fashion. Estco had registered the domain names chanelstore.com and chanelfashion.com last year.
The decision was handed down by a United Nations agency, the World Intellectual Property Organization, which has resolved more than 1,300 cases of disputed domain names through a fast-track arbitration system instituted last December.
The panel of three U.N. arbitrators ruled that these site names were “confusingly similar” to the Chanel trademark name, asserting that “the respondent is deliberately using complainant’s famous trademarks with the aim of misleading the public and siphoning off the ‘Chanel’ trademark’s accumulated good will for profit.”
Estco has nine days to challenge the decision; otherwise, transfer of the two sites must take place within 45 days.
Last year, President Clinton signed the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, which imposes civil ties of up to $100,000 for anyone who in bad faith registers a domain name “identical to, confusingly similar or dilutive of” an existing trademark or personal name.