Court Orders Cybersquatting Company To Pay Verizon $33 Million

    August 27, 2009

A federal court in the Northern District of California has upheld a December 2008 judgment which awarded Verizon $33.15 million in a cybersquatting case against OnlineNIC, an Internet domain registration company.

The case is based on OnlineNIC’s attempts to take advantage of Verizon and its customers by using names that are easily confused with legitimate Verizon names.

OnlineNIC had illegally registered at least 663 domain names that were either identical to or confusingly similar to Verizon trademarks. The court had previously ruled that OnlineNIC’s registrations of Verizon-related domain names were designed to attract Internet users who were looking to access Verizon’s legitimate websites, and calculated the award based on $50,000 per domain.

Sarah Deutsch, Verizon VP and Associate General Counsel
Sarah Deutsch, Verizon VP
Associate General Counsel

In its most recent decision, the court ruled that OnlineNIC is "a serial cybersquatter," that, in "blatant and willful violation" of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, registered Verizon domain names to "prey on consumer confusion."

The court found "OnlineNIC’s intent was to divert consumers searching for Verizon’s websites." In addtion to upholding the original decision, the court also ordered OnlineNIC to pay Verizon its attorneys’ fees and costs.

"We hope the court’s decision goes a long way toward protecting consumers from becoming targets of Internet abuses and frauds," said Sarah Deutsch, Verizon vice president and associate general counsel.

"Verizon is determined to protect our brand and consumers from cybersquatters whose businesses are based on misleading consumers."