The US District Court for the District of Minnesota recently issued a preliminary injunction that required a registrar to redirect all traffic from three defendant-owned websites displaying plaintiff’s logo without authorization to the plaintiff copyright owner’s website. The plaintiff, Nadia Wood, a lawyer, represented individuals in a separate matter who were looking to reclaim funds paid to G Auto Sales, Inc. for an automobile they never received. After being alerted to several other similar fraudulent transactions, Wood started a website at KapustinCars.com to collect information from other potential victims of defendant Sergey Kapustin (on behalf of G Auto Sales and other supposed auto sales companies). Kasputin issued a DMCA takedown notice for Ms. Wood’s website KapustinCars.com, but the registrar found no copyright violation and declined to take further action.
In retaliation, the defendant registered the domains NadiaWoodBlackmailer.com, NadiaWoodLaw.com, and NadiaWood.net (the latter registered anonymously), and posted on these websites a copy of Ms. Wood’s professional logo – including her name and likeness, for which Ms. Wood has a copyright application pending – and accusations that Ms. Wood engaged in blackmail. Ms. Wood filed suit alleging, among other things, copyright, trade dress, and service mark infringement (Wood vs. Kapustin). Ms. Wood sought a preliminary injunction ordering that the infringing websites be redirected to her own legitimate website (NadiaWood.com) pending trial.
In granting Ms. Wood’s motion for preliminary injunction, the Court concluded that Ms. Wood was likely to succeed on her claim for copyright infringement, given that she had a pending copyright application and the alleged infringing logo was identical to the copyrighted logo, and that Ms. Wood had demonstrated a likelihood of irreparable harm to her professional reputation stemming from the unauthorized use of her professional logo. The Court thus ordered the registrar to redirect the likely infringing websites to the plaintiff/copyright owner's legitimate website. The injunction also required the registrar to place the domains in Registry-Hold status to prevent future modification or deletion by defendants or registrar. Based on our experience, this is a rather exceptional remedy to be issued at this stage of a trial.