November 11, 2013 8:14am PT by Eriq Gardner
Academy Wins Domain Name Ruling in GoDaddy Lawsuit
GoDaddy appears to be on the verge of losing a big cybersquatting lawsuit over a program that allowed its customers to buy domain names like BetAcademyAwards.com and 2013Oscars.com.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, responsible for the annual Oscars awards ceremony, sued GoDaddy in May 2010 over the "CashParking" program that allowed customers to buy a domain, "park" that page and collect a portion of revenue from GoDaddy's advertising partners on a pay-per-click basis. This past June, Judge Audrey Collins ruled that GoDaddy "uses" and "traffics" in domain names in its Parked Pages program and denied safe harbor protection to the defendant.
Now, Judge Collins has given AMPAS another big victory by determining on summary judgment that 177 domain names used were "confusingly similar" to the Academy's trademarks.
Among the domain names that GoDaddy is facing trouble on are FutureOscarWinner.net, CollegiateAcadamyAwards.com, OscarAtTheMovies.com and more. Here's a full list from the judge's ruling last week.
The domain registrar giant attempted several arguments to preclude Judge Collins' summary determination. The defendant said that the "sheer number of domain names" at issue -- ones that strung together the Oscar term with something else -- was evidence of the plaintiff's "bad faith" given the Academy's acknowledgement that Oscar "has a multitude of meanings, including as a common first name."
GoDaddy also said that some of the domains were not "similar in sound, sight, or meaning," including the use of proper names like OscarandEmmy.com and Oscardom.com.
In the judge's ruling, GoDaddy is able to escape liability on just 13 domain names including Oscar-Mike.com, SaysOscar.com and OscarTravelWeb.com. The judge also has reserved judgment on GoDaddy's own summary judgment motion that argues the domain names are not "dilutive of" the Academy's marks.
At a trial now scheduled for next July, GoDaddy is also expected to argue that the Academy's "Oscars" marks aren't really famous.