Yahoo! Inc. v. Yahooahtos.com, 2006 WL 2303166 (E.D. Va. Aug. 8, 2006).
Factual Background Edit
Yahoo! filed an in rem cybersquatting action under the ACPA against 1,867 domain names. Pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §1125(d)(2)(A)(ii)(II)(aa), Yahoo! sent copies of the complaints to all the registrants both at the email address and the postal address they provided to their registrars. Following these notices, the registrants of more than 700 of the domain names either voluntarily transferred the names to Yahoo! or entered into consent judgments providing for the transfer of the domain names.
Trial Court Proceedings Edit
Yahoo! then filed a motion asking the court to waive the publication requirement of 15 U.S.C. §1125(d)(2)(A)(ii)(II)(bb), which the court granted. The court began its analysis by noting that courts have reached different decisions on whether the language of subpart (bb) makes publication mandatory or whether the wording "may direct" in that section gives courts discretion to waive the publication requirement altogether. The court held the ACPA ambiguous as to whether it required publication when a plaintiff had given actual notice by email and post per subpart (aa).
The court then construed the notice provisions according to ACPA's purpose to determine the propriety of the in rem action and to notify the registrant of the dispute over his or her property. Citing Continental Airlines and Harrods, the court held that where registrants received actual notice by email and postal mail, "any further notice by publication . . . would be superfluous."
The court emphasized that in cases where a party serves actual notice pursuant to subpart (aa), "further publication of notice of this action would be excessive and wasteful." The court also granted Yahoo!'s motion to enter an Order giving the remaining defendants 30 days to make an appearance and to serve that Order by email only. The court approved service of the Order by email because email was the "customary and preferred method of communication for domain name matters, costs far less than other communication methods, and provides nearly instantaneous communications." However, to the extent Yahoo! could not provide notice to any of the registrants by email, the court required it to also send the Order by international mail.
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