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Cyber-Extortion is not a Defense to a Cybersquatting Claim

A recent case (handled by my firm) out of the Middle District of Florida involved a motion for preliminary injunction over a personal domain name. The claim was brought under both 15 USC § 1129 and 15 USC § 1125(d), but the motion for preliminary injunction sought injunctive relief under 15 USC § 1129 only due to that section’s slightly lower burden of proof.

The Defendant admitted that he bought a domain name consisting of the Plaintiff’s name and then tried to sell the domain to the Plaintiff for $9,500. The Defendant argued that he believed that the Plaintiff owed him $9,500, therefore he had no “intent to profit,” since all he wanted was the money he claimed was owed to him. Thus there was no “intent to profit” from the sale of the domain name.

From the Court’s Opinion:

Plaintiff argues that this distinction is irrelevant, particularly because the debt alleged by Defendant is actually owed by [a] Corporation, not [the] Plaintiff. However, regardless of whether Plaintiff owes Defendant $9500, cyber-extortion is not a permissible way of recovering a debt. See Salle v. Meadows (M.D. Fla., Aug. 6, 2007)

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