PETA v. Doughney case brief summary
a. Dougney, a serial cybersquatter internet executive that owned 50-60 domain names, had a particular interest in making fun of PETA. PETA failed to register peta.org and Doughney registered the domain name and ran a site, which was allegedly a PETA parody. The site stated that it was a “resource for those who enjoy eating meat, wearing fur and leather, hunting, and the fruits of scientific research.” It contained links to various research materials and other organizations that were anti-PETA in belief. The top of the site clearly read “People Eating Tasty Animals.” PETA sues for trademark infringement and unfair competition.
b. Applying TM factors to peta.orgà Peta owns the peta mark; Doughney used the mark; Doughney used the mark “in commerce;” Doughney used the mark “in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, or advertising” of goods or services
1. With respect to connection with sale/advertising à court held that he need not have actually sold/advertised goods/services on peta.org. – he “need only have prevented users from obtaining or using PETA’s goods or services, or need only have connected the website to other’s goods or services.” Plus, peta.org linked to more than 30 commercial websites offering goods and services.
c. Court finds likelihood of confusion in the domain name b/c the domain name does not convey the parody.
1. Doughney argues that his domain name must be analyzed in conjunction with his website – the website, plus the domain name, is a parody of PETA.
2. The court declines to treat the domain name and the content of the website as one. Instead, the court treats them independently of one another.
i. The domain name conveys no parody and does not convey the message of the underlying site. People who see the url will not be aware of the parody until they see the site – b/c it is not simultaneous, no dice.
d. Cyber-squatting note – these cases, especially this one, bring up the question of cyberspace and cyersquatting. The real world analogy is getting there first and staking a claim… But the argument against cybersquatting is that you’re allowing the squatter to trade on the goodwill of the TM owner and preventing the owner from using his own goodwill on the internet.
1. Solution? The Uniform Dispute Resolution Protocol – as a registrant for a top-level domain name, you agree to forfeit it if you registered in bad faith.