Note: No Free Parking: Obtaining Relief from Trademark-Infringing Domain Name Parking
By Elizabeth M. Flanagan. Full text here.
Trademarks are indispensable tools for businesses and consumers. Although the Internet serves as an efficient means for distributing trademark-related information, it nevertheless provides a platform that can reduce the value of trademarks. In particular, commercial domain name parking—the practice of registering domain names and setting up placeholder websites filled with advertisers’ hyperlinks—often impermissibly exploits trademarks, resulting in trademark infringement and consumer confusion. This Note advocates taking action, on behalf of both trademark owners and consumers, against those who commit this Internet-based harm. This Note first presents the purposes underlying trademark law and develops the concept of domain name parking. It then discusses the statutory framework available to contest trademark infringement. This Note suggests that the current federal statutory framework may adequately address individual trademark owners’ complaints of infringement via domain name parking. However, current law fails to provide a comprehensive remedy against the activity as a whole and does not sufficiently protect consumers from the consequences of trademark misuse. Finally, this Note proposes that the Federal Trade Commission investigate this activity and initiate suits against entities involved in domain name parking schemes.