Internet Trademark Case Summaries
Ticketmaster Corp. v. DeVane
2008 WL 2073914 (E.D.N.C. May 14, 2008)
Plaintiff Ticketmaster, the well-known event ticket distributor, owned the federally registered mark TICKETMASTER. Defendant Daniel DeVane registered the domain name “ticketmasterevent.com” and hosted a competing ticket sales website. Ticketmaster sued for cybersquatting, trademark infringement, unfair competition, and dilution and filed a motion for default judgment when DeVane failed to respond to Ticketmaster’s complaint. The court ruled for Ticketmaster on all claims. On the cybersquatting action, the court found the TICKETMASTER mark “distinctive or famous” and that DeVane’s “ticketmasterevent.com” domain name was confusingly similar to Ticketmaster’s mark. The court then cited DeVane’s lack of any rights or legitimate interest in the “ticketmasterevents.com” domain name, his use of the confusingly similar domain name in direct competition with Ticketmaster, and his unauthorized use of Ticketmaster’s legal name as “adequate facts to support a finding that DeVane registered the ticketmaster.com name with the bad faith intent to profit from the use of it.” Addressing the trademark infringement and unfair competition claims, the court found Ticketmaster had sufficiently alleged both claims based on its ownership of the TICKETMASTER mark and DeVane’s use of the mark in connection with the sale of goods in a manner likely to cause confusion among consumers. Finally, the court also ruled for Ticketmaster on the dilution claim, finding the TICKETMASTER mark had become sufficiently famous prior to DeVane’s registration of his infringing domain name. As the domain name “prevented [I]nternet users from accessing Ticketmaster’s service over the [I]nternet,” it “diminished the value of Ticketmaster’s marks.” Regarding remedies, the court permanently enjoined DeVane from using TICKETMASTER or any other confusingly similar marks in domain names, on any websites, in metatags, as keywords, in any email or marketing materials, or through any other conduct that is likely to cause confusion as to source, affiliation, connection, or association with Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster requested $10,000 in statutory damages. The court, however, awarded only $5,000.” Based on the circumstances of the case, and the fact that DeVane in bad faith attempted to deceive internet consumers and direct traffic to his competing ticket website,” the court found $5,000 to be “just and reasonable.” Finally, the court also determined this to be an “exceptional” case and awarded attorney’s fees in an amount to be determined, citing DeVane’s continued use of the infringing domain after receiving a cease-and-desist letter, his failure to appear in the action, and defendant’s lack of any rights or legitimate interests in the domain name.