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Spacey v. Burgar

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Citation Edit

Spacey v. Burgar, 207 F.Supp.2d 1037 (C.D. Cal. 2002) (full-text); Spacey v. Alberta Hot Rods, Claim No. FA 0205000114437 (2002) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

The "kevinspacey.com" domain name was registered in 1996 by Canadian resident Jeffrey Burgar, without Spacey's consent. It was, indeed, one of many celebrity names Burgar registered without consent, all of which pointed to his main site "celebrity1000.com."

Spacey sued Burgar in federal District Court in California, complaining that Burgar's use of the "kevinspacey.com" domain name violated Spacey's intellectual property rights under federal and state law.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

At first, Spacey was not successful. District Judge Gary Feess dismissed the case on the grounds that "the Due Process Clause of the Constitution precludes the exercise of personal jurisdiction over . . . nonresident [Burgar] in the instant action." Though Burgar's website contained advertising for California businesses, Burgar had not selected those ads and had no control over them. Instead, Burgar had sold advertising space to another company which in turn sold the California-related ads.

Domain Name Arbitration Edit

After the federal lawsuit was dismissed, Spacey brought a proceeding before the National Arbitration Forum, pursuant to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. There, he was successful. The National Arbitration Forum panelists ruled that Spacey satisfied all three of the Policy's requirements for transferring a domain name.

First, they held that "a celebrity's name can serve as a trademark when used to identify the celebrity's performance services," and they agreed with Spacey that the public associates his name with his acting services. Second, the panelists found that Burgar had

no right or legitimate interest in Spacey's name and was not making a fair use of it.

Finally, the panelists ruled that Burgar had registered the domain in bad faith, because he had no permission to use Spacey's name. As a result, the panelists ordered the "kevinspacey.com" domain to be transferred to Spacey.

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