Friday, May 25, 2012

Internet litigators need to be aware of an often overlooked California domain name statute.  California Business and Professions Code section 17525 states that "It is unlawful for a person, with a bad faith intent to register, traffic in, or use a domain name, that is identical or confusingly similar to the personal name of another living person or deceased personality, without regard to the goods or services of the parties."

This statute may offer relief for plaintiffs where there is no federally registered trademark and thus, the Anti-Cybersquatting statute and Lanham Act are inapplicable.  Often that is the case when domain names for individual legal names are at issue.  Frequently, such registrations are used by tortfeasors to defame a particular individual on special purpose websites.  Bad faith factors are set forth in section 17526, some closely track UDRP and Anti-Cybersquatting standards.

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