Court Upholds Decision to Award Verizon Largest-Ever Judgment in a Cybersquatting Case

The largest cybersquatting judgment ever has been upheld by a federal court in the Northern District of California. The court denied the motion of the defendant - OnlineNIC, an Internet domain registration company in San Francisco - to set aside a December 2008 judgment in which Verizon was awarded $33.15 million.

The case is based on OnlineNIC's attempts to take advantage of Verizon and Verizon customers by using Internet names that are easily confused with legitimate Verizon names. 

This is the most recent decision in the case against OnlineNIC, which had unlawfully registered at least 663 domain names that were either identical to or confusingly similar to Verizon trademarks.  The court had previously found that OnlineNIC's bad faith registrations of Verizon-related domain names were designed to attract Web users who were seeking to access Verizon's legitimate Web sites, and calculated an award based on $50,000 per domain name. 

In its most recent decision, on Tuesday (Aug. 25), the court concluded that OnlineNIC is "a serial cybersquatter," that, in "blatant and willful violation" of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, registered Verizon domain names to "prey on consumer confusion."  As the court found, "OnlineNIC's intent was to divert consumers searching for Verizon's Web sites." In addition to upholding the original decision, the court also ordered OnlineNIC to pay Verizon its attorneys' fees and costs.

"We hope the court's decision goes a long way toward protecting consumers from becoming targets of Internet abuses and frauds," said Sarah Deutsch, Verizon vice president and associate general counsel. "Verizon is determined to protect our brand and consumers from cybersquatters whose businesses are based on misleading consumers."

Verizon Has Won a String of Similar Cases

In earlier cybersquatting cases, courts granted contested preliminary injunctions against four different violators.  Verizon continues to increase its enforcement activities in trademark cases as part of its broader effort to protect its brand and put its intellectual property innovations to work. 

In 2008, Verizon's intellectual property legal group was named one of the five best in the world by the International Law Office, with the support of the Association of Corporate Counsel. 

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 87 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations provide converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  Wireline also includes Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 235,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $97 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.