The former owner of Pru.com has appealed after a court determined that he was cybersquatting on Pru.com.
A man in China has appealed a summary judgment ruling that forced him to transfer the domain Pru.com to the insurance and financial company Prudential.
Frank Zhang, a Chinese citizen, said he bought the domain from a Texas company in 2017 for about $100,000.
Prudential filed an in rem anti-cybersquatting and trademark infringement case against Pru.com last year. The company has trademarks for pru.
At the end of June, the judge found in favor (pdf) of Prudential’s request for summary judgment on the issue of cybersquatting. The domain was subsequently transferred to Prudential.
The judge found that the facts favored Prudential on all nine of the factors in the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA).
While there was certainly some evidence against Zhang, GoDaddy’s default landing page also hurt. The judge pointed to links on the landing page pointing to Prudential’s competitors and a message asking people, “Would you like to buy this domain name?”.
The links were default pay-per-click links that GoDaddy profits from, but the judge said he had the option to have them removed. And the “buy this domain?” link is a promo for GoDaddy’s domain buying service.
Making matters worse, the links didn’t show to visitors in China, so it would have been difficult for Zhang to know about them.
The case was appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
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Author: Andrew Allemann