In December of 2008, Verizon won a default judgment of $33 million against domain registrar OnlineNic. OnlineNic didn’t present arguments in the case, leaving many to assume that the registrar was simply hiding from the ruling or using it’s location in China as a shield. The Register reports today that the judge in the case has heard further arguements from OnlineNic and ruled with an order for OnlineNic to pay the $33.15 million dollars to Verizon.
OnlineNic was given an opportunity to be heard in the case months after the defaulat decision was handed down. The company argued that the amount awarded was vastly disproportionate to the harm suffered and requested a jury trial. Judge Jeremy Fogel rejected both requests.
The part about this case that seems amazing is the amount awarded to Verizon. OnlineNic claims that only $1468.60 was derived from the offending 683 cited domain names. The judge in the case however notes that regardless of the paltry amount OnlineNic made using the domains this “fails to take any account of the damages suffered by Verizon in the form of a likelihood of confusing surrounding Verizon’s marks and the diversion of internet traffic to websites selling rival products”
Verizon attorney Sarah Deutsch is quoted in the article claiming that this is decision is the “the largest cybersquatting judgment ever.” She further explains “We hope the court’s decision goes a long way toward protecting consumers from becoming targets of Internet abuses and frauds.”
Verizon has come under much criticism for apparent hypocricy in their aggressiveness toward cybersquatters while running a ’service’ that essentially makes them a squatter as well. Verizon internet customers are redirected to a ppc page when a domain name does not resolve. Non-resolving domains include many likely trademark infringing domains. Hypothetically, a user on Verizon landing on a domain like timewarer.com (a typo of TimeWarner.com) could be seeing a “rival products” advertisements. Other companies also have similar “services” including Time Warner and the recently introduced Comcast’s Domain Helper. Maybe these companies will start suing one another for squatting each others typos.