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Academy Says GoDaddy Made $100 Million from Oscar™-Related Cybersquatting

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is finally going to trial in its long-running case against GoDaddy Inc. over the registration of hundreds of domain names related to the Oscar™ telecast.

As reported by the Hollywood Reporter, the trial started August 4.

“Parking” Pages

GoDaddy claims to be the “world’s leading domain registrar” with over 13 million customers and 60 million registered domains.  The company went public in April and has a valuation of $4.5 billion. It earned $1 billion in revenues in 2014.

The Academy alleges that GoDaddy allowed users to buy domains that included the term “Oscar,” and “Academy Awards” — such as “2011oscars” — and to “park” those pages, and then to collect a portion of the pay-per-click revenue from GoDaddy’s advertising partners.

The Academy is seeking to collect damages of $30 million for the use of its OSCAR and ACADEMY AWARDS trademarks.

AMPAS already succeeded in showing that most of the 293 challenged domains are “confusingly similar” to the Academy’s marks. The case is proceeding on the issue of whether 57 additional domains are confusingly similar, and on the basis of GoDaddy’s one remaining defense – that it had no bad faith intent to profit from others’ use of the Academy trademarks.

GoDaddy has also challenged whether the term “Oscar” is actually distinctive and famous enough to merit protection under trademark law.

Damages

Damages are another issue for the jury to determine. Statutory damages can range from $1,000 to $100,000 for each domain name.

GoDaddy asserted that it made less than $350 from advertising revenues for the 239 domains. The Academy claims that GoDaddy generated at least $100 million since 2006 from the “parking” program.

The case is Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences v. GoDaddy.com Inc. et al.

Takeaway

If AMPAS is successful, other trademark owners may also want to consider bringing similar suits against domain registration services.

The firm’s Intellectual Property Group is based in Pasadena, California with a team of highly-regarded legal professionals with prosecution and litigation expertise in the fields of patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets.

Please also visit us online for more information about our services.

Photo Attribution: “81st Academy Awards Ceremony” by BDS2006 (talk). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


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