Pinterest Squares Off Against Well-Known Cyber-Squatter
Recently, it seems as though new social media platforms are being adopted more and more frequently. Whereas it took years for people to transition from MySpace to Facebook, recently more varied forms of social media have been cropping up with remarkable frequency. Pinterest, a content-sharing social image site, is widely considered to be the latest of these to achieve prominence in the market.
Recently, the company filed a trademark infringement action in California federal court seeking damages and an enjoinment against Chinese national Qian Jin, who they allege is guilty of cyberpiracy, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, as well as domain squatting. Pinterest’s complaint alleges that “This action arises from Defendant’s bad-faith registration and use of numerous domain names containing, or confusingly similar to, Pinterest’s famous and federally registered PINTEREST trademark,” and that the “Defendant has no affiliation with Pinterest but has nevertheless branded his websites, and has filed baseless trademark applications, to take unlawful advantage of Pinterest’s extraordinary popularity.”
Pinterest also alleges that the defendant has a well-known history of this type of behavior, as he is a “serial cyber-squatter who has registered and owns hundreds of infringing domain names.” Examples of these include domains that appear to infringe on the marks of other well-know corporations such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Etsy, Foursquare, Hotmail, Hulu, Spotify, Scribd, Instagram, Eventbrite and Zynga.
Expert legal opinion advises that for successful startups like Pinterest, “Chinese registrations of infringing domain names and trademarks is an epidemic” and so startups “should attempt to register key trademarks in their core business categories as well as the domains most likely to be valuable to the company and potential cybersquatters.” By doing this preemptively, startups can establish a “base level of protection in the major markets like the US, EU, and Asia from a trademark perspective.” Doing so can be a way to avoid costly legal battles down the line, because these Chinese cyber-squatting efforts stand out, as they appear to systematically target newly successful Internet startups.