GoDaddy Wins Oscars Cybersquatting Case


     LOS ANGELES (CN) – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences suffered defeat in its cybersquatting case against GoDaddy after a federal judge shot down its $30 million claim against the domain giant.
     During a trial last month, the academy asked federal judge Andre Birotte to award it damages for violation of the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act claiming that the world’s largest domain registrar was profiting from a parked-pages program that allowed customers to buy domain names that infringe on academy marks.
     But in a Sept. 10 order, Birotte ruled for GoDaddy and found the Academy had offered no persuasive evidence of a bad-faith intent to profit off of the marks.
     Revenue on GoDaddy’s parked pages – temporary web pages displaying ads – is generated each time a user clicks on advertisements, which include third-party ads by Google and other partners.
     In a ruling that appeared to bode well for the Academy, the federal court previously found on summary judgment that 237 of the domain names were confusingly similar, leaving in play 56 Oscar-related names, including Oscar4re.com and Oscarcam.com.
     Perhaps the best evidence that GoDaddy did not intend to profit from the marks came in the form of financial statements related to the 293 domains, which according to court records represented 0.0005 percent of GoDaddy’s 60 million domain registrations.
     Birotte said that GoDaddy had shown that it generated a paltry $1 in revenue from Google for pop-under ads – advertisements that appear in a new window after a web browser is closed.
     GoDaddy received no ad revenue from Google at all for 221 of the domains and a little over $100 for the remaining 72. The most that any domain made was $13.67, according to Birotte’s ruling.
     “GoDaddy earned less than $400 in revenue from any of the accused domains,” Birotte added. “If GoDaddy intended to profit from any of the AMPAS marks contained in the accused domains, GoDaddy would have made specific efforts to drive relevant traffic to each of them. It did not do so.”
     GoDaddy will submit a proposed judgment this week, while Birotte gave the academy until Sept. 25 to file any objections to the domain registrar’s proposed judgment.

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