(CN) – Tiffany & Co. can use email to effect service of process on Chinese entities that it believes are selling knockoffs of its products online, a federal judge ruled.
Tiffany (NJ) LLC sued Gu Jianfang dba AAA909.com and over five dozen other websites for trademark counterfeit infringement, false designation of origin, cybersquatting and common law unfair competition.
It asked the court in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to authorize an alternate method for service of process when it could not locate the infringers.
Tiffany claims the Internet sites intentionally promoted and sold items bearing Tiffany’s trademarks on commercial websites and auction stores.
When trying to contact AAA and other sites associated with the infringement, Tiffany allegedly obtained WHOIS registration data and found invalid addresses for the first 58 domain names.
The remaining six defendants operate anonymously through the Internet and do not provide physical addresses for their online auction stores.
Tiffany said its investigators were unable to identify any physical address for service process but have reason to believe the infringers are residents of China or other foreign countries.
AAA and the other sites have, however, responded to online inquiries and chat functions.
Tiffany said it believes the defendants are operating solely through the Internet and that their email addresses are the most reliable way to communicate with them and provide a notice of action.
Service by email is not prohibited under international agreement in this case, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum noted Friday.
The court found Tiffany showed good cause to allow service of summons, complaints and all subsequent filings via email to all defendants.
Tiffany shall effectuate service of process on defendants via publication by posting a copy of the complaint and summonses on the Internet website appearing at the URL http://servingnotice.com/tiffpp5/index.html, according to the ruling.
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