The US district court in southern California recently granted an injunction against Navigation Catalyst (nofollow) and their bulk registrar Basic Fusion (nofollow).  Navigation Catalyst is definitely among the larger domain companies and had engaged in heavy ‘domain tasting’, the registration of domain names to test them for traffic.

This case is significant because it is the first time that a large domaining organization lost a legal battle on the grounds of ACPA. I could easily see publicly traded companies (Marchex?) in the cross hairs soon. It is also the first time that an injunction has been granted against a registrar.

Background

Navigation Catalyst has seen a few domain disputes before, but based on their testimony they do take several notable steps to avoid registering trademarks:

  • Trademark database: They maintain a black list of trademarks and do not register domains that contain these trademarks.
  • Manual scrubbing: They employ several human screeners to review the domains that they ultimately register to check if they are familiar trademarked terms.

However, it would appear that they didn’t really follow this practice closely. A look at the list of domains they own (submitted by Verizon as an exhibit) demonstrate rampant cybersquatting. I see hundreds of typos of Abercrombie, Bank of America, Cingular and Disney among many others.

Navigation Catalyst also holds a number of valuable more than just that of registrar/customer.

The injunction wasn’t all that significant. It just prevents both parties from registering typos of several of Verizon’s brand names. However, to quote Eric Goldman:

it’s clear from the strongly worded opinion that Verizon will get paid if the case gets that far