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A common problem is identifying culprit. In Jan Tallent- Dandridge’s case, for example, only information about perpetrator is:
offers@NameRegister.com Registrant: Dave Web (JTDBIZOPPS-COM-DOM) Buy This Domain 5 Tpagrichnery St ., # 33 Yerevan, Armenia 375010 AM 208.978.3555 208.978.3555 offers@NameRegister.com
Call me skeptical, but somehow I doubt that’s a real name and address. Fortunately, Act has anticipated this problem:
“The owner of a mark may file an in rem civil action against a domain name [an “in rem” proceeding is an action against thing rather than against a defendant - in this context, it means that court can make an order in relation to domain name itself rather than against Dave Web personally such as ordering him to surrender domain name] ... “.
And as for remedies, assuming you are able to identify your particular scumbag, these include injunctions and damages (either actual or, in a case where your individual name is at issue, statutory damages of between $1,000 and $100,000 per domain name).
=> Generic Legal Avenues
Whether or not you can pursue an action under Act, there are a number of legal avenues open to anyone in Jan’s situation (and by that, I mean, someone who is using domain name to point to a site that damages your reputation).
First off, let’s recognize this practice for what it is. Extortion. Pure and simple. It’s a crime. So is criminal defamation. Write a strongly worded cease and desist letter to offender, threatening to report them to District Attorney and/or police and Federal Trade Commission as well as instituting a civil suit. You are more likely to get a result if letter comes from your attorney.
If offender doesn’t comply, report them. As for what action will be taken, your guess is as good as mine but at least you’ve done what you can.
If you have resources to do so, you can also bring civil proceedings against offender on same grounds. The conduct in question is egregious enough that you may well get punitive damages awarded in your favor.
Finally, and I HATE to even suggest this, most cost-effective option of all may be to pay what is demanded. That at least gets domain name back under YOUR control where it belongs. And there’s nothing to stop you turning around and reporting individual in question to DA, police, FTC etc.. In fact, paying over money may be your best chance of identifying perpetrator so you can initiate a criminal prosecution.
Of course, all of this is damage control which is a VERY poor substitute for prevention. So go back to Item 1. and calendar your domain name due dates to avoid getting into this mess in first place.
Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online ... practical home business ideas for the work-from-home entrepreneur. http://www.ahbbo.com/mmp/sub.cgi?AHBBO=!FLM