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Cybersquatting in Gap jeans

21 November 2011 No Comment

I can’t tell you how many times I have to remind businesses, young and old, that they must purchase any confusingly similar domains which  bad faith competitors may use to take away their traffic. Known as, cybersquatting, this is a legal violation where someone with bad faith creates a domain in order profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. The cybersquatter then offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price.(wiki) Fashion and Entertainment Lawyers must become familiar with this area of Internet law since it greatly effects the success of brand identity/management.

Real life example: Gap owns WWW.GAP.COM but does not own WWW.THEGAP.COM.

Earlier this month, The Gap Inc. filed a cybersquatting (see complaint below) against the Mumbai-based owners of the domain name thegap.com (can’t infringers in Mumbia cybersquat on Bollywood movie names instead gosh!).  Gap actually owns the “The” in its trademarked name since 1972, according to the complaint, however it only registered Internet domain names for gap.com, gapkids.com and babygap.com when the company established its online presence in the 1990s.

Mumbai based company called The Gap Entertainment got there first, registering the domain name in question in 1994, according to the complaint. When you visit www.thegap.com users are taken to what appears to be a gift card deal site (see below). The lawsuit claims that the site uses fraudulent promises of high-value gift cards to lure consumers into entering personal information.

The domain registration is set to expire in March 2012. The plaintiffs argue that the use of thegap.com “is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake or to deceive consumers” about whether Gap is linked to the unaffiliated site, the company alleges in its complaint. Gap is represented by John Margiotta and Alexander Greenberg of New York-based IP firm Frost Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu. John Jennison of Jennison & Schultz in Arlington, Va., is serving as local counsel. (source Legal Times)

Do you know of any other companies that suffer from a similar problem?

Gap Cyber Squatting

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