Here’s an update from a story I picked up back in May involving a Pittsburgh-based plumbing company that was sued for cybersquatting.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Fagnelli Plumbing Co. in Oakland filed a lawsuit against Gillece in May, claiming the company had improperly registered the Internet domain name fagnelli.com and then redirected Web traffic from that site to the Gillece home page. Though Fagnelli sent a cease and desist letter, demanding that Gillece turn over the domain name, that never happened.

Gillece did, however, stop redirecting traffic to its own site, and instead listed fagnelli.com on GoDaddy.com, which is a parking site for domain names that are registered but contain no content.

The case was supposed to have been settled following mediation at the end of September, but the settlement fell through when the parties couldn’t agree on the confidentiality clause.

The case is now headed for a bench trial before U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab on April 11. Fagnelli, which characterizes Gillece’s behavior as “unscrupulous and unethical,” is seeking damages of $100,000 plus costs and attorney fees.

Does Gillece’s conduct amount to “cybersquatting”?

The elements of cybersquatting under the UDRP, requires that plaintiff show: (1) that the domain is confusingly similar to its trademark; (2) that the registrant does not have a legitimate interest in the domain name; and (3) that the registrant registered and is now using the domain in “bad faith.”

One of the classic cybersquatting cases (Kremen v. Cohen) that I mentioned in my previous post involved, among other picaresque details, a cybersquatting dispute over the domain “Sex.com.”

Let’s look now at factor (2).  Although there’s room for argument about who “owns” “Sex.com,” it’s hard to see who, other than Mark Nix, a plumber in the Brentwood section of Pittsburgh, “owns” “marknixplumbing.com.”  Again, from the P-G:

Mark Nix, who has operated Mark Nix Plumbing in Brentwood for more than 25 years, said he didn’t know a domain name similar to his business had been registered until lawyers for Fagnelli told him.

Even so, he doesn’t like that Gillece registered the name marknixplumbing.com.

“I think it’s the wrong thing to do for Gillece — to go take my website and put his name over top of mine,” Mr. Nix said. “He’s a big enough company, he really doesn’t need to do something like that.

“He should have his own customers.”

Paul Robinson, an attorney for Gillece, said Tuesday afternoon that he had not yet read the affidavits filed by Fagnelli and could therefore not comment on them. A response to the filing is due by Feb. 10.

As we always must do in litigation (and in blogging about other people’s litigation), we’ll have to wait and see– whether Gillece will prevail in this matter or whether it has simply flushed a good deal of GoDaddy domain fees down the drain.

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