Internet Trademark Case Summaries
U.S. Olympic Comm. v. 2000Olympic.com
Civ. A. No. 1:00CV1018 (E.D. Va. May 21, 2002) (Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation); (E.D. Va. Apr. 4, 2003) (Court's Order Adopting Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation).
Plaintiffs, the U.S. Olympic Committee and several other Olympic organizations, brought an in rem action under the ACPA against more than 1,800 domain names owned by registrants from 53 countries. All of the domain names contained one or more of the plaintiff's various OLYMPIC marks or variations thereof, including misspellings (e.g., “olympiks.com”) and foreign equivalents of the marks (e.g., “giochi-olimpici.com”). At issue in this decision was plaintiffs' motion for default against 818 of the names and to voluntarily dismiss 36 other names. The district court adopted the findings and recommendations that the Magistrate Judge made almost a year earlier. The court initially determined that in rem jurisdiction was proper because all of the domain-name registrants were located outside the U.S., and none of them had any known connection sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction in any judicial district in the U.S. It also found that plaintiffs perfected service under the ACPA by sending notice of the action to the registrants' postal and email addresses listed in the registration records; the court waived the ACPA's publication-of-notice requirement. The court then issued an order giving the registrants or other interested persons 30 days to answer the complaint and stating that it may order the domain names canceled, forfeited, or transferred to plaintiffs for failure to timely file an answer. No registrants or other interested persons timely filed an answer. Turning to the merits of plaintiffs' ACPA claim, the court held that the domain names were confusingly similar to plaintiffs' famous OLYMPIC marks and that the registrants had a bad-faith intent to profit from plaintiffs' marks when they registered the domain names. The evidence of bad faith included: None of the domain names demonstrated that they had trademark or intellectual property rights in the domain names; the OLYMPIC marks were not the legal name of any of the registrants; the registrants intended to divert consumers from legitimate Olympic websites to their own websites by creating a likelihood of confusion, which could tarnish or disparage the OLYMPIC marks; many of the registrants registered multiple domain names; and many of the domain names were offered for sale. The court thus entered default judgment against the 818 domain names and ordered that they be transferred to plaintiffs. It also granted plaintiffs' motion to dismiss the other 36 domain names.