by Richard Keyt, Domain Name Law attorney

Typosquatting can be profitable, but John Zuccarini found that it comes with a high cost of doing business.  Zuccarini,  the internet’s most infamous cybersquatter, lost two lawsuits in the last year brought under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (the “Act”).  Two federal courts ordered him to pay statutory damages totaling $550,000 plus attorneys’ fees and costs of more than $60,000.  Mr. Zuccarini is single-handedly helping to make new law favorable to trade mark owners that assists them in their war against domain name cybersquatters.

On October 30, 2000, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ordered Zuccarini to pay statutory damages of $500,000 (plus $30,653 in attorneys’ fees and costs) arising from five domain names he acquired and used in violation of the Act.  See Electronics Boutique Holding Corp. v. Zuccarini.  The United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit on June 15, 2001, affirmed a trial court decision that ordered Zuccarini to pay statutory damages of $50,000 (plus attorneys’ fees of $39,109) for violating the Act in connection with five other domain names.  See Shields v. Zuccarini.

Mr. Zuccarini operated more than 3,000 web sites that earned between $800,000 – $1,000,000 a year.  Mr. Zuccarini registered hundreds of domain names that are misspellings of famous people’s names, famous brands, company names, television shows, and movies.   His cyber success, however, has not gone un-noticed.  Zuccarini or his affiliates have been involved in 33 domain name arbitration proceedings under ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.  Of the 155 domain names in dispute in the ICANN arbitrations, the arbitration panels have ordered that 139 be transferred to the complainant.  For more information about Mr. Zuccarini’s problems with trademark owners, see the list of John Zuccarini’s ICANN Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy Arbitrations.

The list of parties who have alleged that Mr. Zuccarini or his affiliates are cybersquatters is long and distinguished.  The complaining parties include Dow Jones & Company, Nicole Kidman, Microsoft, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Yahoo, Spiegel Catalog, Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, United Feature Syndicate, Budget Rent a Car Corporation, Minolta, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Saks & Company, American Airlines, FAO Schwarz, Musicmatch, WebMD Corporation, L.L. Bean, and America Online. 

In awarding statutory damages of $100,000 per domain name, the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania in Electronics Boutique Holdings Corp. v. Zuccarini said “Mr. Zuccarini boldly thumbs his nose at the rulings of this court and the laws of our country.  Therefore, I find that justice in this case requires that damages be assessed against Mr. Zuccarini in the amount of $100,000 per infringing domain name, for a total of $500,000.”

Given that Mr. Zuccarini acquired more than 3,000 domain names, we have not heard the last of him.  To learn more about John Zuccarini’s legal adventures, see Typosquatter Liable for Statutory Damages of $10,000 per Domain Name & Attorneys’ Fees of $39,109.

For a related story see Typosquatter Liable for Statutory Damages of $10,000 per Domain Name & Attorneys’ Fees of $39,109.