Monthly Archives: November 2007

Can Typosquatting Be Counterfeiting?

This seems to be media day. Brian Krebs quoted me in the Washingtonpost.com story Dell Takes Cybersquatters to Court.

The story there is about Dell bringing a very large and organized case against a bunch of domain tasters (people who register domain names for a very brief period then drop them, so they don't have to pay for them) who were apparently typosquatting on a grand scale.

What makes the story interesting is that Dell's lawyers threw in a counterfeiting claim into their complaint. It's artfully worded, but the essence of it is that the counterfeits are the domain names, and/or the act of putting up web sites at the domain names that have popups or pop-under ads.

Tactically, this assertion has great value for Dell: it got the judge to treat the complaint the way that courts treat claims that there's a warehouse of phony handbags somewhere; Dell got to file under seal, and to stage a raid before service to impound computers and other evidence. And the statutory damages for counterfeiting are higher than for cybersquatting.

But, and here's the rub, it seems pretty clear to me that the trademark laws don't contemplate this sort of cybersquatting/typosquatting, however heinous and massive, as being called counterfeiting. This isn't like affixing a false mark to some good to make consumers buy it. And even if one were to say that consumers “buy” web sites by “paying” their attention, I don't understand anyone to suggest that the defendants' sites looked like Dell's, just (some of) the domain names. Indeed some of the names, although they had “dell” in them, were so long and weird that you have to wonder how anyone could be confused, or how they could even be seen as diluting Dell's marks. Even so, though, if the complaint's facts are true, there were an awful lot of other names that were close enough to Dell's be actionable.

Overall, it's a very well-written complaint and makes the defendants sound very guilty of trademark infringement, cybersquatting, and various Florida state-law unfair competition claims and the like — but not of counterfeiting. The attempt to re-characterize typosquatting, even massive typosquatting, as counterfeiting seems to me to be an unusually far-fetched construction of the relevant law, but I'm open to correction from people who know counterfeiting law better than I do.

Posted in Internet, Law: Trademark Law | 1 Comment

Oregon GOP’s Idea of What Constitutes Criminals and Terrorists: Democrats

Look past the shtick in Scrubbing the Oregon GOP at Jesus' General, and you find the sort of news about my co-nationals that really creeps me.

If the story can be believed, it seems that the Oregon GOP duly passed a plank at its convention that said,

7.5 Inter-jurisdictional agency cooperation shall be improved for more effective joint action against organized crime, drug cartels, terrorist networks and the Oregon Democratic Party.

Yup. Drug dealers, terrorists and Oregon Democrats. All kind of similar in the crackpot view of the Oregon GOP.

But when called on it, someone quickly scrubbed the website. But you can see the old version at the Internet Archive's Way Back Machine.

Perhaps it was someone's idea of a joke inserted on the website? I hope. But in a world of right-wing eliminationist rhetoric (see multiple posts of David Neiwert's on this at Orcinus) there's all too much reason to fear it was for real.

Posted in Politics: The Party of Sleaze | Leave a comment

Burgers

Forgot to mention that I was on the radio yesterday, on Marketplace PM in Jeremy Hobson's entertaining story, There's only one Burger King in this town.

And, yes, it's about trademarks again.

Posted in Law: Trademark Law | Leave a comment

Read the Review

I recommend this DailyKos review of Ronald Brownstein's “The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America.” SusanG writes What Brownstein Gets Wrong: Just About Everything.

It begins as follows:

Nearly everything is wrong with this book, and every one of us should read it.

Only problem is, by the time I'm done with the review I really don't want to read the book…

Posted in Readings | 1 Comment

France Says Immunity is Forever

Contradicting a series of international law decisions by multiple national and international tribunals, and citing a missive from the French Foreign Ministry, a French court has ruled that ministerial immunity against torture charges persists past the minister's retirement.

Based on this dramatically deviant assertion by the French Foreign Ministry, the French court of first instance dismissed the torture charges filed against Donald Rumsfeld in France.

Details on what happened and how it deviates from international law as it is commonly understood at the Center for Constitutional Rights, France in Violation of Law Grants Donald Rumsfeld Immunity, Dismisses Torture Complaint.

Is this (pro-US) French President Nicolas Sarkozy's doing? It certainly seems an odd decision for Bernard Kouchner, the former socialist and co-founder of Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) turned Foreign Minister.

It also seems like the sort of decision a decent court system would overturn on appeal.

Posted in Torture | 3 Comments

Kudos (Again) to Sen. Dodd

via techPresident: Dodd Breaks the Frame, Asks YouTube Question of GOPers

Finally, a presidential candidate has seized the opportunity presented by the CNN/YouTube debates … it looks like the creative minds at Chris Dodd's campaign—which has already distinguished itself with a string of web innovations—were paying attention. A few days ago, they posted this question from Senator Dodd for this Wednesday's Republican CNN/YouTube event:

Direct link to video.

Posted in Politics: US: 2008 Elections | 1 Comment