Monthly Archives: February 2006

Domain name dispute: Angé v. Templer – State court claims

Angé v. Templer
Decided February 21, 2006
No. C 05-05169 WHA, 2006 WL 436139 (N.D.Cal.)

Plaintiffs, an individual and a California corporation named Gap International, Inc., sued in state court for the conversion of the domain name Gapinternational.com. Defendants include the hosting company who took the Plaintiff’s domain name and the Pennsylvania company named Gap International, Inc. the domain was ultimately transferred to. The defendants convinced a state court judge that the action needed to be removed to Federal court by arguing that Plaintiffs claims, although couched in state law claims, really were claims for cybersquatting under the Lanham Act. Before the court was Plaintiff’s motion to remand the case back to state court.

Upon reviewing the briefs, the court agreed with plaintiffs and remanded the case back to state court. While the property at issue is a domain name, not all disputes over them constitute cybersquatting. For instance, there were no claims based on confusion between two domain names. Rather, defendants had taken an asset of the plaintiffs and interfered with a contractual relationship. Specifically, a fifty million dollar business deal had gone sour as a result of the theft and conversion of the domain name.

The court has a particularly good quote regarding the intersection of federal and state claims over domain names:

At bottom, defendant’s arguments suffer from an attempt to translate every issue relating to the Internet into a federal question. The Internet is not a talisman bestowing federal jurisdiction. There remains a place for state courts to determine the rights and responsibilities in the constantly evolving world of Internet law. Congress has not indicated an intent to strip state courts of this role. While the Lanham Act bestows federal jurisdiction, it does so only over claims that explicitly fall under its scope.

Defendants were required to pay plaintiff’s costs in bringing the remand motion, which were $2,600.00.

Analysis: This case is a reminder that state law claims can exist in the context of domain name disputes. While Federal jurisdiction may be appropriate for some claims, here it was not what the plaintiffs wanted. It seems clear that they wanted a state court to hear its claim and award it monetary damages for the domain name theft since it caused fifty million dollars in funding to fall through. Defendants clearly wanted the court to view it through the lens of cybersquatting, which particular crime they may be innocent of. Conversion, though, is a state law claim which properly should be before a state court if there is no other reason for Federal jurisdiction.

Arrogant hacker tracked down through Metadata

Here’s a funny development I’ll be watching closely.

This week, a hacker who claimed to operate a remote ‘bot network of thousands of computers was interviewed in the Washington Post. That in itself wasn’t newsworthy enough for me to blog about it, as sadly there are many users who allow this to happen to their home computers without their knowledge by following poor computing practices. This fellow was unique only in that he chose to be interviewed about his alleged violation of federal law. I say alleged only because we don’t know for sure he wasn’t bluffing about what he’d done in order to be interviewed.

Well, the hacker went so far as to have a picture appear with the article in which his face was partially obscured. Here’s a link to an eWeek article about this case. Hidden metadata in that image file was capable of identifying the small town in Oklahoma where he lives. Hopefully, federal authorities in the vicinity of Roland, Oklahoma will now be able to zero in on his location. With further clues in the article about his identity, such as his long hair down to his eyebrows, he’s described as tall and lanky, he lives with his religious parents, and he conveniently triangulates his house near readily identifiable businesses such as a “used-car lot, a gas station and convenience store and a strip club.” It shouldn’t be too hard to find him in a town of only 2,842. 🙂

Let’s see how long it takes to bring this arrogant alleged violator of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to justice! Anybody care to place a friendly non-monetary wager on the timeframe?

Domain name dispute: Digital Telemedia, Inc. vs. C. I. Host, Inc.

Digital Telemedia, Inc., d/b/a Logicworks vs. C. I. Host, Inc. and Logicworks Corporation, No. 04 Civ. 1734(CSH) – Southern District of New York 2006 WL 300465 (S.D.N.Y.) Decided February 8, 2006 The plaintiff, Digital Telemedia, Inc., does business as “Logicworks.” It alleges trademark infringement, cyberpiracy, unfair competition, and deceptive trade practices against two defendants. The… Continue Reading

Open Source: Craigslist

Christopher Lydon’s outstanding public radio show called Open Source is available as a podcast. This morning on my commute I listened to the February 7th show about Craigslist and its implications for generating community on the Internet. Here is a link to the show which you can download and listen on any MP3 player or… Continue Reading

Is Google taking a free ride?

On Monday, a Verizon executive named John Thorne spoke before a conference celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. His message? That Google is freeloading on the companies that built the Internet backbone, companies like Verizon that own the fiber, without paying their fair share. For a deeper summary of what he… Continue Reading

Trade Secrets: Hub Group, Inc. v. Clancy – Plaintiff unable to obtain preliminary injunction

The recent case of Hub Group, Inc. v. Clancy, decided by Judge Stengel of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on January 25, 2006, provides an interesting look at a trade secrets case (they’re relatively rare when compared to other forms of intellectual property) and it also provides a review of the standards needed in order… Continue Reading