Florida Court Awards $400,000 in Domain Name Dispute
According to reporting from the Florida Record, Palace Resorts — a Caribbean vacation company — has been granted $400,000 in financial compensation in a trademark infringement lawsuit over “confusingly similar domain names”. In the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Judge Federico Moreno found the plaintiff’s claim to be well-supported by the evidence. Here, our Miami, FL business litigation lawyers provide an overview of this decision and we highlight some of the most important things that business owners need to know about domain names and trademark law rights.
The Dispute: Use of Confusingly Similar Domain Names
Palace Resorts filed their claim against a company that was doing business under the name ‘Vacation Store’. Essentially, Vacation Store is a wholesaler that works to book rooms at resorts, hotels, and at other similar locations — routing the process through their own websites. According to court records, Vacation Store purchased and operated dozens of domain names that were very close to the names of actual Palace Resorts properties.
As a representative example, Palace Resorts owns and operates a vacation spot called Isla Mujeres Palace Hotel. It is located on an island just off the tip of Cancun, Mexico. According to court documents, Vacation Store purchased and used the domain name ‘islemujerespalace.com’ to facilitate bookings to the location. Previously, this domain name was unowned — Palace Resorts uses its core website, PalaceResorts.com for bookings to all of its properties.
The court determined that Vacation Store violated elements of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. As the domain names it used were reasonably likely to confuse ordinary consumers, its conduct amounted to a trademark violation. The plaintiff was granted $10,000 per offending domain name ($400,000 in total) and they were also was issued injunctive relief — including being given the possession of all offending domain names.
Domain Names and Trademark Protection
With so much consumer business being conducted over the internet, a domain name is increasingly an important part of any company’s intellectual property. Domain names that are intentionally or negligently designed to confuse consumers may amount to an intellectual property violation. In assessing these types of cases, United States courts will consider three main factors:
- Whether the domain name is confusingly similar;
- Whether the defendant has a legitimate basis to use the name; and
- Whether the name was registered in bad faith.
If all three of these elements are met, the plaintiff may be entitled to recover financial compensation for any losses and they may be entitled to receive possession of the offending domain name.
Speak to Our Miami Business Litigation Attorneys Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Miami business litigation lawyers are standing by, ready to protect the rights and interests of your business. If you are involved in a dispute over a domain dispute or any other type of intellectual property, we are here to help. To set up a fully private initial consultation, please call us at 561-291-8298 (West Palm Beach) or at 305-985-5281 (Miami).