Jysk Bed'N Linen operates furniture stores in Georgia, New Jersey, and North Carolina. In early 1999, it had a website developed for it and hosted that website at http://www.bydesignfurniture.com. It had asked the website developer to register the domain name and assign the domain to Jsyk. The domain name was registered, but it was never listed in the name of Jsyk.
In 2012, the domain name registration expired, and the website went down. Jsyk asked the web developer to re-register the domain name and transfer it to Jsyk. The web developer did re-register the domain, but did not transfer it. Instead, the web developer registered a handful of other domains (bydesignfurniture.org, bydesignfurnitures.com, etc...) and demanded that he be compensated for his thousands of hours of work. Jsyk sued, claiming violation of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.
The ACPA makes it unlawful to register, traffic in, or use a domain name that uses another's distinctive mark (where the accused cybersquatter has a bad faith intent to profit off of this usage). Here, the web developer argued that "re-registration" does not constitute "registration" and thus did not violate the ACPA. The Eleventh Circuit was not persuaded:
Including re-registrations under the registration hook comports with the purpose of Congress in enacting the ACPA—to prevent cybersquatting. See S. Grouts & Mortars, Inc., 575 F.3d 1235, 1246–47 (11th Cir. 2009)(“Registering a famous trademark as a domain name and then offering it for sale to the trademark owner is exactly the wrong Congress intended to remedy when it passed the ACPA.”(quotation marks omitted) (quoting Ford Motor Co. v. Catalanotte, 342 F.3d 543, 549 (6th Cir.2003))). It would be nonsensical to exempt the bad-faith re-registration of a domain name simply because the bad-faith behavior occurred during a noninitial registration, thereby allowing the exact behavior that Congress sought to prevent. We accordingly will not read additional words into the statute such as initial or creation. The plain meaning ofregister includes a re-registration.
Thus, here in the Eleventh Circuit, re-registration constitutes registration for purposes of the ACPA. This comports with the Third Circuit. See Schmidheiny v. Weber, 319 F.3d 581 (3d Cir.2003). Notably, the Ninth Circuit has reached a different conclusion. See GoPets Ltd. .v. Hise, 657 F.3d 1024 (9thCir.2011)(determining that "re-registration" was not "registration" for concern that it would limit the transferability of rights associated with domain names).
The Court went on to confirm the web developer's activities demonstrated a bad faith intent to profit off of Jsyk's trademark rights.
Issuance of preliminary injunction, affirmed.
Jysk Bed'N Linen v. Dutta-Roy, Case No. 13-15309, (11th Cir. Dec. 16, 2015)