Parody web site declared illegal after six year name dispute

Out-Law News | 27 Aug 2001 | 12:00 am |

A US Federal Appeals Court has ruled that internet entrepreneur Michael Doughney’s use of the domain name peta.org, which he registered in 1995, illegally infringed the trade mark of the pressure group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The case is said to be the longest running domain name dispute, stretching back over six years.

Mr Doughney’s parody site at peta.org was entitled “People Eating Tasty Animals” and it linked to mink and leather merchants, taxidermists, a poultry information service and cattle breeders. PETA won the domain name from Doughney in June last year, but Doughney fought to get it back.

Despite ruling that Mr Doughney was guilty of trade mark infringement under federal law, the court held that his actions were not intended as malicious. Accordingly, he was ordered to pay PETA the sum of $28,671 in legal costs, but escaped payment of the $300,000 damages claimed by PETA.

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