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Recouvreur v. Carreon

Topic(s): Internet Free Speech - Use of Brand Names in Domain Names and Metatags
Court: Select Court

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Description:

An anonymous Internet user registered the domain name charles-carreon.com, using a private registration process, and then used the domain name to post a nastily satirical web site about Charles Carreon, an Arizona lawyer whose threats of defamation litigation and pro se lawsuit against some critics had drawn stinging online criticism. The Doe purported to blog in Carreon’s name, mimicking what many critics had panned as vastly a overstated and indeed pompous writing style. Carreon threatened to sue the blogger for trademark infringement and cybersquatting, and threatened to sue the registrar for facilitating the infringement unless the registrar revealed the Doe’s name. Doe has sued for a declaratory judgment of non-infringement, arguing that her use of the lawyer’s name is fair use, non-confusing, non-commercial, and protected by the First Amendment. After the registrar placed the blogger’s real name in its public records, and Carreon created his own blog using the blogger’s name, the blogger amended his complaint to include his real name.

Carreon refused to waive service of summons, and after service was finally effected, he refused to pay the service expenses. The blogger moved for an award of service expenses and attorney fees for the time spent seeking the expenses. Carreon then agreed to have judgment taken against him. The blogger successfully sought attorney fees for having had to sue to protect his rights against frivolous threats of trademark litigation.