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Internet Trademark Case Summaries

Deleo and Internet Yellow Pages Network, Inc. v. ZConnex Corp.

2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15712 (W.D.N.Y. Oct. 25, 2000)

Plaintiffs provided various online services, including an online telephone directory, under the name Internet Yellow Pages Network, Inc. (“Internet Yellow Pages”).  Plaintiffs’ website was located at the domain name “yellowpage.net,” which was registered on September 17, 1997.  Internet Yellow Pages was co-owned by Michael Tinari, who was also associated with defendants Yellow Pages Network (“YPN”) and Z-Canada.  According to NSI’s records, nearly two years after plaintiffs registered “yellowpage.net,” defendant Z-Canada somehow became listed as the registered owner of “yellowpage.net,” by way of a transfer from YPN.  Plaintiffs alleged that they never sold or transferred “yellowpage.net,” that YPN never owned the domain name, and that Z-Canada claimed registration “by way of a transfer from a party [YPN] that never owned it.”  Claiming that defendants conspired to take plaintiffs’ “yellowpage.net” domain name, plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction, alleging trademark infringement and dilution and violations of the ACPA.  The court denied plaintiffs’ motion on several grounds.  First, because it was unclear whether plaintiffs were actually the original owner of the “yellowpage.net” domain name, plaintiffs were unable to establish a likelihood of success regarding its trademark and ACPA claims.  Second, plaintiffs were also unable to prove that an injunction would prevent irreparable harm because fifteen months had elapsed since plaintiffs last used the contested domain name.  Despite plaintiffs’ argument that this delay was the result of ongoing negotiations between the parties, the court held that the extended nature of the negotiations “belie[d] any assertion of imminent and irreparable injury such that emergency relief [was] required.”  Finally, noting that an injunction would radically alter the status quo, the court stated that “[g]iven the fact that all domain names are of necessity [sic] unique and that all web traffic directed at the “yellowpage.net” domain name has gone through [defendants’] servers since May 1999, enjoining the defendants’ use thereof would effectively end [the business] associated with such domain name and would . . . cause significant hardship.”