In a pretty unusual case, Directors Advantage, Inc., of Clinton NC, owner of the domain name Cremation.com filed a federal lawsuit yesterday against Cremations.com, for cybersquatting under the Federal Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d), “stemming from wide-ranging aggressive, unethical, and unlawful sales practices and bad faith actions of the registrant of CREMATIONS.COM seeking transfer of the Defendant domain name.”
In the Complaint the owner of Cremation.com alleges that the domain Cremations.com “is registered in the name of “VRE Group Ltd.” of “46 Peel Street, Hull, Great Britain HU31QR.”
Upon information and belief, and based upon Directors Advantage’s research and due diligence, there is no active registered company in the United Kingdom under the name “VRE Group Ltd.
The domain Cremations.com was owned by Future Media Architects, Inc (FMA)., so those in the domain business knows that the domain didn’t sell cheap and maybe surprised to find out that the domain sold at all as FMA had a long policy of not selling any domain names.
However it looks like they did sell the domain name in January 2014 to City Advertising, LLC of Delray Beach, Florida which was one of only 11 companies in the entire state to receive the ‘Governor’s Innovators Under 40 Award’, in 2012, which recognizes Florida residents under 40 who own or lead a Florida company with annual revenue of $1M or more and who have created at least 10 jobs since January 2011.
It looks like the domain Cremations.com was transferred to the VRE Group, LTD at the end of October 2014.
Cremations.com and Cremation.com both appear to be a listing type of site for those in the cremation business.
The company that owns Cremation.com alleged “it has owned the domain name and trademark since 2000 and that “over the last few years alone, Directors Advantage’s CREMAT10N.COM site and service has received over 500,000 visitors who have conducted over 1,000,000 searches for products and services.”
However my check of the USPTO only found a recent registration for Cremation.com which was filed on July 23, 2013 and granted on May 20, 2014.
Moreover the trademark appears to be on the design of the logo and the company specifically stated in its trademark application that “NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO USE “CREMATION.COM” APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN”.
The owner of Creamtion.com alleged ince the registrant of the domain VRE Group, LTD was not registered in the UK, they are asking the court for “in rem jurisdiction over the Defendant domain name pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § i 125(d)(2)(A). in rem jurisdiction is appropriate under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d)(2)(A)(i)(I) because the registration for the Defendant domain name appears to identify a fictitious entity and therefore the true identity of the registrant cannot be determined.”
“Alternatively, in rem jurisdiction is also appropriate under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d)(2)(A)(i)(II) because the registration for the Defendant domain name identifies an entity that is purportedly located in the United Kingdom and therefore Directors Advantage cannot obtain in personal jurisdiction over a person who would have been a defendant in a civil action under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d)(1)(A).”
The suit was filed in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virgina, Alexandria Division
The suit goes on to allege that:
“The registrant ofCREMATIONS.COM and/or its agents or representatives have engaged in a wide range of aggressive, unethical, and unlawful sales practices while soliciting potential customers to pay foradvertisements on CREMATIONS.COM. Among other things, these practices include the following:
“The registrant of CREMATIONS.COM and/or its agents or representatives have misrepresented to potential customers that the sales solicitations were being made on behalf of Directors Advantage’s legitimate CREMATION.COM site as opposed to CREMATIONS.COM.”
The registrant of CREMAT10NS.COM and/or its agents or representatives have fraudulently requested and accepted payments for advertisements on Directors Advantage’s legitimate CREMATION.COM site when in fact such persons have no affiliation with Directors Advantage or CREMATlON.COM.
“The registrant of Cremations.Com and/or its agents or representatives have engaged in sales tactics such as swearing at potential customers after advising and/or implying that they were acting on behalf of on Directors Advantage’s legitimate CREMATION.COM site.
“The registrant of CREMATIONS.COM and/or its agents or representatives have misrepresented to potential customers that Directors Advantage’s legitimate CREMATION.COM site was going out of business.”
“The registrant of CREMATIONS.COM and/or its agents or representatives have purchased the CREMAT10N.COM trademark as a search engine keyword though Google so that a Google search for CREMATION.COM will result in display of a hyperlinked advertisement for Defendant CREMATIONS.COM.”
“The actions of the registrant of CREMATIONS.COM and/or its agents or representatives have resulted in actual confusion and deception in the marketplace in that Directors Advantage has received numerous inquiries from consumers who mistakenly believe that there is some affiliation between Directors Advantage and Defendant CREMATIONS.COM and/or who mistakenly believe that they have purchased services from Directors Advantage”
The owner of Cremation.com is asking the court for to order the Cremations.com be transferred to Directors
Advantage by directing VeriSign, Inc. to change the registrar of the CREMATIONS.COM domain name from Moniker Online Services LLC to Godaddy.com, LLC and directing Godaddy.com, LLC to change the registrant of the domain name to Directors Advantage; that any other domain names registered by the registrant of the Defendant domain name that resemble or include the CREMATION.COM mark be transferred to Directors Advantage and the Court order an award of costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.