Pro-life cybersquatter fined for contempt

In Coca-Cola Co v Purdy, the US District Court for the District of Minnesota has found cybersquatter William Purdy in contempt of court for not ceasing to use domain names incorporating famous marks for anti-abortion websites. Judge Ann Montgomery ruled that Purdy must pay a $500 fine for each day he continued to use the domain names in defiance of the court's original preliminary injunction.

Purdy had registered several domain names incorporating the famous marks of the Coca-Cola Company, Pepsico Inc, McDonald's Corporation and the Washington Post Company in order to direct internet users to anti-abortion websites. In July 2002 the district court issued a preliminary injunction against Purdy on the basis of a threat of irreparable harm to the plaintiffs. The order preliminarily enjoined Purdy from (i) using the disputed domain names, or (ii) registering any other domain names incorporating the plaintiffs' marks.

When Purdy continued to use the disputed domain names, Montgomery (i) ruled that he must transfer ownership of the disputed domain names to the appropriate plaintiff pursuant to the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, and (ii) fined him $500 for each day he continued to use the domain names in defiance of the court's July 2002 injunction.

Montgomery's decision sends a strong message that while Purdy is free to criticize the plaintiffs online, he cannot lead others to believe these companies support or sponsor his views on abortion.

Jeffrey Van Hoosear and Mika Fukuwa, Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP, Newport Beach

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