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Career Agents Network v. White

Topic(s): Internet Free Speech - Right To Speak Anonymously
Internet Free Speech - Use of Brand Names in Domain Names and Metatags

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Description:

Career Agents Network, a company that provides assistance in creating health care employee recruiting business (for a steep entry fee), sued the anonymous host of a web site at careeragentsnetwork.biz in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, claiming that the domain name infringed its trademark and constituted cybersquatting. Despite the fact Sixth Circuit precedent foreclosed both causes of action, plaintiff filed an ex parte motion for a temporary restraining order and obtained relief by concealing the controlling authorities from the Court. The defendant got summary judgment (represented by private counsel) by citing the controlling cases; but it cost the defendant nearly $20,000 to defend his rights. Public Citizen filed a motion for an award of attorney fees, arguing that defendants who stand up for their free speech rights, involving web sites from which they can derive no financial benefit, need to have a leg up in getting fees to that they (and their lawyers) have an incentive to defend themselves. The trial court agreed and awarded $22,000 in fees, $18,000 for the main case and $4000 for the fee application.