California company brought suit in Illinois against a California man who runs web sites devoted to the alleged misconduct of the company, as reported in various media sources and detailed in law enforcement investigations. Public Citizen moved to dismiss, arguing that there was no basis for suing in Illinois, that in any event the California anti-SLAPP statute comes to Illinois with the case, and that the defendant is entitled to use the company’s name in the domain names for his web sites.
Plaintiff agreed to have the case transferred to the Southern District of California, and the libel claims were resolved with some changes to the web site and a substantial payment of attorney fees to Public Citizen. The district court granted summary judgment rejecting the federal trademark claims and the cybersquatting claim, and granted an anti-SLAPP motion striking the state trademark claims and awarding attorney fees. On appeal, the dismissal of the federal trademark claims was upheld with a significant precedent-setting opinion, but the cybersquatting and state trademark claims were reinstated for procedural reasons.
On remand, the case was settled with the defendant keeping one of the domain names at issue and giving up the other domain name after an interval of a year.