Chanel just filed a massive lawsuit against 399 defendants holding over 450 domain names some of which contain a trademark of owned by one of Chanel company and others sites which sell what Chanel alleges are counterfeit products.
Chanel is asking the court for many remedies including injunctive relief, transfer or cancellation of the domain names, as well as attorney fees and other damages against all the defendants, many of which live outside the US or have registered addresses outside of the US including China and the Bahamas.
This is not a traditional CyberSquatting suit and from what I can tell is not looking for the $100K statutory damages
The 32 page complaint is entitled Chanel, Inc. Vs. The Partnerships and John Does 1-1000
The lawsuit was filed yesterday September 20th in the Federal District Court in Nevada.
Here are the domain names subject to the suit:
Many of these domains are unarguable generic, must be about the domain owners use of the domain. Perhaps from automatic adsense ads for Chanel products appearing on domains. So should we all go into adsense now and ban chanel ads from appearing on our domains? Should all parking companies request to ther upstream providers that they don’t want any Chanel ads syndicated to their parked pages? At what point should google advertisers be held responsible for where their ads appear? They have just as much the ability to control where there ads show (if not more) than we do. And wouldn’t Chanel want their ads to show on a relevant domain if it is making sales for them? Business must be hurting and they dont know where to go to fix it so they will try and make money this way. I hope all these generics aren’t under attack for syndicated ppc ads. That would’ve ridiculous.
 ALT PAD  not all tablets will be sold by Apple  says
but they can’t sue the owners of domain-typos with “chanNel” in the name (and the list posted here suggests many names to register…) since a too common and not TM word 🙂
The domain “j12channel.com” may be generic but it is being blatantly misused.
The page says : Chanel official Website and list their watches.
Similarly worldbrandhandbags.com is selling fake/replica Chanel Bags amongst others.
they are all selling counterfeit knockoffs, still live and doing it as of now…
most seem interconnected as well.
this has nothing to do with ad keywords, these guys are selling hard goods.
Danny Pryor says
There are a great number of these that are, as JP observed, clearly generic. So the issue becomes the use of the domain, the content thereon. The issue I would have, if these generics are taken offline, is that no new, dangerous precedent is set that impacts the use of the generic domain name, itself. For instance, weekendbuy.com clearly is selling knock-off items from Chanel, Juice Couture, Gucci, and many other highly desired brands. These brands are not as affordable among lower income and lower-middle income buyers.
There are actually two groups of victims here, and a potential third. First is the trademark holders, the manufacturers, the purveyor of the high-quality goods. These are the Guccis, the Chanels, the Louis Vuittons. This group has every right to be deeply concerned about the dilution of their brand.
The second group are the people who are desperate enough to own something with the brand name on it, who may be ignorant or willing to “suspend their disbelief” in order to own the products sold on these sites.
The problem with cultural lag (This is a term to describe social, judicial or religious progress that falls behind technological of mechanized advances) is that courts may not have the judicial moxie to avoid the trap a suit like this may inadvertently or deliberately lay. This leads us to the third group: Domain Investors.
This will be worth watching, I believe, since the Chanel brand is so well known. So are the Juicy Couture, Fendi, Gucci, and the myriad other high-end product labels displayed.
The court will have to consider so many factors, because at least weekendbuy.com is well developed. The coding used on the site is not shoddy. I checked another generic, thevoguelady.com, and it is also very well developed. The people at work here are more sophisticated than your average scam artist. These are professional people at work.
I would be concerned about the potential blowback for domain investors and developers. Tough case.
Why file in Nevada?
That list is a bit confusing it shows a205.com*
What does that mean. It’s very misleading.
I own a205.com and it is redirected to a406.com.
There has never been anything on that site relating to chanel that I am aware of. There are three adsense banners on the site.
Already because of this I am probably being defamed by Cartoonz
“they are all selling counterfeit knockoffs, still live and doing it as of now… most seem interconnected as well. & this has nothing to do with ad keywords, these guys are selling hard goods.”
Please look for yourselves see what my content is.
If its adsense its a complete nonsense. Adsence displays ads based on what you have been looking at. If the researcher has been looking for knockoff channel then adsense will show all the paid for channel stuff it can find.
I just looked back at the complaint
The site could be a2o5.com which means the letter ‘O’ and not the number “0” its pretty hard to tell but i’m assuming after your comment that its the letter one not the domain you own
Domain Time Machine says
So many of these folks that sell fake merchandise are from China, so taking a domain away means nothing.
For eight bucks they are back up on a new site.
If they were smart they would have broken the lawsuit up into domains with TM issues and domains without TM issues but are selling fake goods. This is way to hodgepodged and is mixing two different legal issues.
Danny Pryor says
@Brady: Exactly my worries with this action.
And this is why you have to be licenced / authorized by manufacturers to sell their NFL jerseys, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, etc. brands – yes
Should Manufacturers and brands be obligated to post a website of the authorized websites that can sell their products – in order to enforce an infringement ?
Sue Media says
how are these domain infringing on any brand name? they seem very generic
the problem here is with counterfeit goods moving in commerce across borders. that is where the failure of i.p. enforcement is occuring. this is hardly a new problem. it predates computers.
but i guess some people believe that shutting down websites will help stop the flow of these goods. that’s why ice (usa) does what it does, seizing domains. it’s a reasonable idea.
and now that ice has shown the usa-based com registry will follow orders to remove domains, chanel might as well give that go.
but then we’ve got many more registries, and if icann has it way, many more new ones on the way. they are not all going to be usa-based.
what’s troubling is that, according to what i’ve read, ice has only a relatively small of staff who even barely understand how computers and the internet work. the vast majority of staff working on stopping counterfeit goods are not computer-oriented at all. that’s understandable. but one wonders if this operation whatever is consequently a doomed effort.
if they really wanted to take on counterfeiters who are using the web, they must at least have as much knowledge about the internet as the people they’re trying to stop.
if you want to transcend “whack-a-mole” you’re going to have to THINK.
Stephen Douglas says
I’m surprised none of the domain legal experts have chimed in here.
In 1999, Porsche Inc. tried to sue hundreds of domain owners who used the word “porsche” in their domains. I was one of them.
HERE’S THE IMPORTANT PART: Although I released the domain name, within a few months it was reported that Porsche’s lawsuit was thrown out of court because it was rightfully determined that each domain name and its owner had a specific meaning and purpose for the domain which judicially had to be tested on its own merits, and was required by law to be judged singularly on whether it infringed on Porsche’s TM.
Porsche lawyers could not simply “challenge” hundreds of different domains and their owners in a “group lawsuit”. The court determined that Porsche could only sue for TM infringement regarding a domain name on an individual basis.
I wish I had the time to look up the case records to provide them to you here, but sorry, I don’t. Just check it out.
Porsche dropped the lawsuit, and decide to go only after a few egregious TM infringers on a singular lawsuit basis.
This case with Chanel will be thrown out based on that precedent. As a TM holder, you can’t “gang sue” hundreds of domain owners with domains that may or may not be TM infringements.
RANT: What blows my mind is how uneducated and subsequently ridiculous most companies, large and small, appear when they file these types of actions regarding domains they “just discovered might be valuable to their company”. Really? No shit? Ya think you should have registered these domains back when?. Or how they try to come back to gather up all those domains by suing or filing UDRP’s on domains they’ve forgot about or didn’t understand they should have purchased back when they first obtained their TM?
There should be a penalty for TM holders who don’t try to protect their TM at the domain level. Just because you’re a TM holder shouldn’t give you a free pass to sue all the people who “found” prodservs domains that now you figured out could be valuable to you.
My understanding of the TM laws (*I’m no attorney, but have had experience here) is that if you are a company that has a TM, you better be vigilant regarding that TM you have, especially if you’re doing ecommerce. Don’t come back years later to try and get domains you feel are infringing your TM and take up the court’s time while you whine about your stupidity and lack of due diligence that caused you to fail in BUYING YOUR TM DOMAIN PRODSERVS IN A TIMELY MANNER.
If you obtain a TM on a term, cover your ass. A year should be enough time for any TM holder to do this. Don’t wait a decade and then sue someone who owns a domain that “might” be infringing on your TM. In a perfect world, you’d have to prove to the court that the owner of the domain significantly damaged your TM and your business. The rest is just “oops, we were too stupid or lazy or cocky to actually check for domain names that might be infringing on our business. Heh heh, judge, we just didn’t think back then that these domains might be VALUABLE.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be the first to defend TM rights, and if I can help it, not buy domains with TM’s. If I mistakenly get a TM domain, I release it, no problem.
However, no company should be allowed to wait five years to “back search” for their TM domains, with no evidence or proof of damages to their TM by someone who owns a domain they think is “confusing” their TM, and demand those domains to be released to them. At best, anyone who has a TM and doesn’t grab all their generic prodserv domains with that TM phrase within the domain, can be revealed as being “negligent” in protecting their TM.
This should be a warning to all businesses that it’s time to educate themselves on the power of domain names. No more whiny excuses and late lawsuits on domains they should have known to buy when they obtained their TM.
I’m just sick of seeing through all the bullshit, the abuse, the corporate arrogance that has put not only the U.S., but the world, in the state it’s in today.
Other than that, isn’t it a nice day? Look at the trees and the beaches and your friends and family.
It’s a legit argument. Look what happened to Lady Gaga on her attempt to get Ladygaga.org.
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When they had been wise they’d possess damaged the actual suit upward in to domain names along with TM problems as well as domain names without having TM problems however can sell phony products. This really is method to hodgepodged and it is combining 2 various legalities.
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The website might be a2o5.com which means the letter ‘O’ and not the number “0″ its pretty hard to tell but i’m assuming after your comment that its the letter one not the domain you own.
These websites have now all been either taken down completely or replaced with the official complained filed by Chanel – http://valiablogs.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/chanel-inc-shuts-down-hundreds-of-replica-handbag-websites/
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