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Office Depot v. Zuccarini

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Citation Edit

Office Depot, Inc. v. Zuccarini, 596 F.3d 696 (9th Cir. 2010) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

Zuccarini registered the domain name “officdepo.com” and Office Depot subsequently brought, and won, an action against Zuccarini under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999 (ACPA). Office Depot obtained a judgment against appellant, which it assigned to DSH. DSH sought to levy upon some of the other 248 domains owned by appellant and registered the judgment in the district court for the Northern District of California.

District Court Proceedings Edit

The district court denied DSH’s request to compel the domain registrars to transfer Zuccarini’s property, holding that under California Code of Civil Procedure §699.040, it could not order a third party to turn over property. DSH then moved for the appointment of a receiver who would obtain and sell the domains to satisfy the judgment. The district court granted the motion and Zuccarini appealed.

Appellate Court Proceedings Edit

A district court can obtain quasi in rem jurisdiction over property held within its geographical borders, including intangible property. Under §§695.010(a) and 699.710 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, all property of a judgment debtor can be used to satisfy a writ of execution. The applicable state and federal provisions declare that if the domain names are property subject to execution, and if they are located in the Northern District of California, then the district court is an appropriate location to execute judgment on them through the appointment of a receiver.

[A]ttaching a situs to intangible property is necessarily a legal fiction; therefore, the selection of a situs for intangibles must be context-specific, embodying a "common sense appraisal of the requirements of justice and convenience in particular conditions."[1] While California law does not specifically address the location of domain names, the ACPA states that a trademark owner in a cybersquatting action can proceed in rem against a cybersquatter "in the judicial district in which the domain name registrar, domain name registry, or other domain name authority that registered or assigned the domain is located. . . ."[2]

The court found the language of the ACPA persuasive and concluded that under California law, domain names are located where the registry is located for the purpose of asserting quasi in rem jurisdiction. Additionally, while the question was not directly before the court, the holding added that domain names are not also located where the relevant registrar is located.

References Edit

  1. Af-Cap Inc. v. Republic of Congo, 383 F.3d 361 (5th Cir. 2004) (full-text).
  2. 15 U.S.C. §1125(d)(2)(A).

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