Domain Too Close to Competitor's Name

U.S. District Court, Southern Ohio, 2007: HER Inc. v. RE/MAX First Choice LLC

June 1, 2007

A federal district court has entered an injunction prohibiting a competitor of a large regional brokerage from using any of several domain names the competitor had registered. The court believes the large brokerage is likely to succeed in its lawsuit to prevent the competitor from using the domain names that bear a resemblance to the brokerage’s names and trademarks.

In the case, 700 salespeople associated with HER, which provides brokerage services under the name Real Living, received an e-mail from herbiejr@insiderealliving.com, purporting to be an inside look at the company’s operations and making claims that the company restricted the listings available on its Web site. The domain name was similar to one of the company’s registered trademarks, REAL LIVING.

The company found that the e-mail had been sent by a salesperson working for a competitor. It also found that the individual had registered the domain name insiderealliving.com as well as several other domain names that implied an association with HER and Real Living. Any visitors to the similarly named Web sites were diverted to the competing company’s site.

HER filed a lawsuit, charging cybersquatting, the practice of registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with the bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark holder.

The court decided that because HER had a valid, well-known trademark that was very similar to the ones registered by the competing sales associate and because that sales associate and his brokerage intended to profit from the confusion of the two companies, HER’s situation met the requirements for protection under the law. The court also granted an injunction because it believed the continued use of the domain names could confuse consumers and cause harm to Real Living.

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