In a lawsuit filed under seal and without notice to the defendants in October -- to avoid the removal or destruction of evidence -- Dell charges Juan Pablo Vazquez of Miami, Florida, several unknown individuals, and a handful of domain name companies in Florida with violating its trademarks on more than 1,100 domain names.
The lawsuit, unsealed two weeks ago, accuses the defendants of cybersquatting, trademark infringement and dilution, counterfeiting, deceptive trade practices, and unfair competition.
Dell alleges that the defendants registered domains that contain the name "dell," or something close to it, and used the infringing domains to host "'pay-per-click' Web sites that display or displayed advertising links to various commercial Web sites" and to offer goods or services identical or similar to Dell's sites.
The lawsuit also claims the defendants set their sites up to serve pop-up and pop-under ads, and thereby earned ad revenue off Dell's trademarked names.
Cybersquatting -- using, registering, or profiting in bad faith from a domain name that's identical or similar to an established trademark -- and typosquatting -- using, registering, or profiting in bad faith from a domain name that's a deliberately misspelled version of an established trademark -- isn't only a problem for Dell.
Citizen Hawk, an online trademark protection service, provides an online search service that lists hundreds of registered domains that may be confusingly similar to trademarked domain names for most major companies. For example, it identifies 567 potential cybersquatting domains for Microsoft, 253 potential cybersquatting domains for Wachovia bank, and 415 potential cybersquatting domains for Amazon.com.
In a similar bid to protect its name, Dell filed another trademark infringement lawsuit last week against a number of resellers, including Intertech Trading Corp., for violating its Value Added Reseller contracts by selling Dell products outside the United States, by abusing promotional discounts, and by selling refurbished equipment as if it were new.
Dell claims the defendants' actions have cost the company $2 million over the past three years.