Arbitrators Decide 'Pornosquatting' Operator Must Give Up Site

Jun 7, 2010 3:00 PM PST
GENEVA — Calling it a case of "pornosquatting," arbitrators for the World Intellectual Property Organization have ruled that the operator of CafeInternet.com must hand over its domain name to the owner of a Washington business.

The plaintiff in the case, David Green, contended that while the operators of CafeInternet.com have owned the site since November 1997, they shouldn't be allowed to use it for their adult businesses because he owns a trademark for the words "cafe Internet." Green owns franchise company Cafe Internet of Port Townsend, Wash.

While the actual identity of the operator behind the domain name wasn't revealed before, during or even after the arbitrators' ruling, CafeInternet.com's content redirects to the home page of AdultFriendFinder.com. In years' past, it also has been home to Amigos.com and GermanAdultFriendFinder.com — all owned by Boca Raton, Fla.-based FriendFinder, which did not participate before arbitrators.

FriendFinder officials did not immediately respond to XBIZ for comment.

Green, through his attorneys, claimed that the CafeInternet's operator used the website as “bait” for Internet users seeking "Cafe Internet.”

He also contended that the domain name was registered and is being used in bad faith after operators provided phony or insufficient contact information with its Internet service provider.

Arbitrators, ruling 2-1, ordered that the domain name be transferred to Green.

"For the majority of this panel, the provision of false contact details and the operation of an adult-oriented website in connection with a domain name registered (as the record before this panel suggests) after complainant’s first use of the mark in commerce tips the finely balanced scale under this element in complainant’s favor," WIPO arbitrators ruled.

"The panel considers the present case as an example of 'pornosquatting,' where linking the domain name at issue to adult-oriented websites is a widely accepted evidence of use in bad faith."

Arbitrator Robert Badgley, who wrote the lone dissenting opinion in the case, said that he wasn't convinced Green should be entitled to the domain name.

"The term 'Internet cafe' is in such common generic usage that the inversion of the term, 'cafe Internet,' can hardly be viewed as deeply original," he wrote. "I am also troubled by the fact that it took complainant 13 years to bring a complaint under the policy while someone was out there using the .com verbatim version of its mark.

"Fortunately, I need not enter the thicket of laches to reach my conclusion, but I mark it as another issue that could have contributed to the defeat of this complaint."

The case is David Green vs. CafeInternet.com Email Services, D2010-0425.

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