EBay Desperate To Sue For Trademark Infringement
Even though eBay isn’t always in the right, they seem to have a software robot that scours domain registrations for any that include the word ebay. Register a domain with the name ebay in it, and you may receive an email from [email protected] that looks like this:
We are writing concerning your registration of ebayXXXX.com which contains the famous eBay trademark.
As you undoubtedly know, eBay is the leading provider of online person-to-person trading services and related goods and services. eBay adopted the name and trademark eBay in September 1995 and, since that time, eBay has actively used the eBay name and trademark in connection with its online trading and related services, including maintaining the web site www.eBay.com. The coined term eBay is one of the most famous trademarks on the Internet. eBay owns exclusive trademark rights to the eBay name in the United States and internationally, including related common law rights. Accordingly, eBay enjoys broad trademark rights in its name.
eBay has made a substantial investment in developing and providing its services. As a result of eBay’s pioneering efforts and its devoting substantial effort and resources to providing only high quality services, the eBay name and trademarks are widely known among the consuming public worldwide, and the name and trademarks embody substantial and valuable goodwill.
Accordingly, we were concerned when we learned of your registration of the ebayXXXX.com. As we hope you can understand, protection of its trademarks is very important to eBay. We have filed several successful federal court actions in the United States against companies and individuals employing the famous eBay trademark in their domain names, as well as numerous proceedings before the World Intellectual Property Organization’s arbitration panel. eBay prevailed in each case and the domain names at issue were all ordered to be transferred to eBay.
In addition to the above, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has recognized the fame of the EBAY trademark and has, in the past, rejected a number of trademarks that have improperly incorporated the EBAY mark into them (such as “ebaysecurities”). Like your domain name, “ebaysecurities” incorporated the entire eBay trademark, adding only a generic term to eBay’s famous mark. The USPTO recognized that eBay is a famous trademark and denied registration of ebaysecurities. eBay is concerned that any use of the domain name in question, is likely to cause confusion as to whether you or your company’s activities are authorized, endorsed or sponsored by eBay when, in fact, they are not.
We understand that you may have registered ebayover.com without full knowledge of the law in this area. The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act provides for serious penalties (up to $100,000 per domain name) against persons who, without authorization, use, sell, or offer for sale a domain name that infringes another’s trademark.
While eBay respects your right of expression and your desire to conduct business on the Internet, eBay must enforce its own rights in order to protect its valuable and famous trademark. For these reasons, and to avoid consumer confusion, eBay must insist that you not use the domain name for any purpose, do not sell, offer to sell or transfer the domain name to a third party, and instead simply let the domain registration expire. In the meantime, the domain name should remain inactive and should not point to any content.
Just to be clear, eBay does not desire to interfere with any legitimate business you may be conducting. We are simply asking that you offer those legitimate services under a name, mark and domain name that is not likely to confuse consumers to believe that your company on one hand and eBay on the other hand are related and/or affiliated.
Please confirm in writing that you will agree to resolve this matter as requested. If we do not receive confirmation from you that you will comply with our request, we will have no choice but to pursue all available remedies against you.
eBay Legal Department
This Edith at eBay seems to be pretty busy. She’s sent out, since she started doing this (apparently in 2011 if you Google her email address), close to a half million “cease and desist” notices.
For the most part this seems to be a lot of hot air. Ebay isn’t always in the right, and there are exceptions to the general policy against registering a domain name that includes a trademarked name. There are definitely non-commercial and fair use exceptions. For example paypalsucks.com (PayPal was once an eBay company.)