A U.S. district court has granted Verizon a $33.15 million judgment against domain registrar OnlineNIC for bad faith registrations of Verizon-related domains. OnlineNIC, based in San Francisco, registered 663 domain names that were identical or similar to Verizon trademarks.
In a Dec. 24 decision, Judge Jeremy Fogel of the California Northern District Court ordered OnlineNIC to pay $50,000 per violation.
"[OnlineNIC] has registered hundreds of domain names that are designed to attract users seeking to access Verizon's legitimate Web sites," Fogel wrote in his decision. "[OnlineNIC] has refused to alter its behavior, and its bad faith is further evidenced by its machinations to avoid detection through the use of fictitious business entities, shell corporations and kiting of its domain names."
The decision ordered OnlineNIC, which did not appear in court to defend itself, to transfer all of the offending domain names to Verizon. In addition, Fogel issued an injunction barring OnlineNIC from registering any other domain names similar to Verizon's.
Verizon contended in a June lawsuit that OnlineNIC profited from fraudulent domain names such as myverizonwireless.com, verizoncellularphone.com and iphoneverizonplans.com by serving ads offered by Verizon rivals.
"This case should send a clear message and serve to deter cybersquatters who continue to run businesses for the primary purpose of misleading consumers," Sarah Deutsch, Verizon vice president and associate general counsel, said in a statement. "Verizon intends to continue to take all steps necessary to protect our brand and consumers from Internet frauds and abuses."
According to Verizon, OnlineNIC has registered more than 900,000 domain names similar to those of Web sites maintained by Google, MySpace, Yahoo and retailers such as Wal-Mart. Verizon said in its lawsuit that OnlineNIC uses an automated process to register the names and then employs "numerous means to conceal its true identity."