US court stalls Porsche domain name legal fight

Luxury car marque Porsche has hit a legal stumbling block in its attempt to enforce trademark rights against 138 Internet domain name registrants in the US.

A US district court has overruled attempts by the carmaker to force unnamed registrants to give up Porsche-related domain names. The ruling may further complicate attempts by brand owners to enforce strict ownership over Website addresses.

The court ruled that Porsche must proceed with actions against named individuals accused of breaching domain name copyright, rather than bring a class action.

The company is attempting to bring actions against domain names themselves, a so-called “in rem” action, rather than against specified individuals through “in personam” action.

Porsche, which intends to appeal against the court’s ruling, claims the regular use of false names and addresses by people registering domain names has made it virtually impossible for famous trademark holders to find and sue registrants individually.

Patricia Britton, counsel for Porsche Cars North America, says: “An ‘in rem’ lawsuit is the only feasible way Porsche can put an end to the cyberabuse and cyberpiracy it faces on the Internet.”

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