Anti-CyberSquatting

Are you a business that is just getting around to setting up your website, only to learn that the name of your company is already being used as a domain name by someone else? Are you surprised? Annoyed? Is there anything you can do about this?

Or perhaps after setting up your website, you receive a cease & desist letter from another company threatening to sue you for violation of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. How should you respond? Do you have to release your website to them?

Many of these questions can be answered by the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). The term “cybersquatting” refers to the registering, selling or using a domain name with the intent of profiting from the goodwill of someone else’s trademark. It generally refers to the practice of buying up domain names that use the names of existing businesses with the intent to sell the names for a profit to those businesses.

The ACPA is a federal law that took effect in 1999, in order to prevent bad faith registration of domain names. For example, if Mercedes Benz did not have a website and you registered www.Mercedesbenz.com with the intent of selling the site to Mercedes Benz for a lucrative ransom, you could be liable under the ACPA for bad faith registration of a domain name. Many people are surprised that this practice is illegal and believe that since the registrars, such as Network Solutions, and others allowed them to register the domain name, it must be legal. In reality, the only thing that registrars require registrants to do is to affirm that, by registering the domain name, they are not interfering with someone else’s legitimate trademark rights.

The ACPA does not deal with registration of generic domain names, such as www.luxurycars.com, which is perfectly legal. The ACPA comes into play when someone registers a domain name which includes a trademark, for example www.bmwluxurycars.com, and if the registration is done in bad faith. Although holding a domain name for ransom is one of the ways “bad faith” can be shown under the ACPA, it is not the only one. Bad faith can also be shown by using a domain name to divert customers from a trademark owner’s website to another for commercial gain. This is often seen by a competitor registering a variation of trademark, for example a photography equipment retail store may register www.nicon.com, hoping to steal camera buyers from customers looking for Nikon cameras, but who may be hurried or unsure of the spelling for Nikon.

Bad faith can also be shown by an attempt to damage the trademark by harming the goodwill associated with the trademark. Damaging or tarnishing a trademark can arise if a domain name is similar to another’s trademark and leads to a site, such as a pornographic website, that tends to damage the goodwill of the trademark by creating an unpleasant association with the trademark.

The primary purpose of the ACPA is to reduce consumers’ confusion about the source and sponsorship of Internet web pages. This helps provide consumers with a degree of certainty as to the quality of the goods associated with the trademark. Thus, when consumers visit a website of a trusted product, they will actually find the product they are looking for and not something entirely different.

Trademarks are a source of pride for many businesses and can represent years, if not decades, of dedication to their customers. Continuing a tradition and association with quality is the cornerstone of developing a successful business and ensuring customer loyalty. For this reason, business owners are vulnerable to predators who understand the link between a trademark and a successful business. Knowledge of the law is the key to protecting your business and your trademark.

Laura Hagan is an attorney practicing with the firm of Kerrick Stivers Coyle, PLC with offices in Bowling Green and Elizabethtown. She is registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and her practice consists of assisting individuals with their intellectual property needs, such as patents, trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights.

Personal injury lawsuits

A personal injury is defined as any harm caused to a person, such as a broken bone, a cut, a bruise or slander. Any type of bodily injury as a result of an attack, negligence or accident can also be categorized as the same, and you can file a lawsuit to recover damages from whoever is responsible for your injuries.

Personal injury lawsuits are filed because of auto accidents and other vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, workplace accidents, products liability, dangerous drugs, airplane accidents, wrongful deaths and other personal injuries. Accidents do occur, and over time laws and safety regulations have been created so that exposure to potentially deadly or harmful events could be reduced to protect citizens. Since it is impossible to prevent all accidents from occurring, victims of personal injury cases have rights supported by the government to file claims to recover damages suffered.

Examples of personal injury cases include the following:

Injuries of the Head and Spine – brain injuries, concussions, spinal cord injury, back and neck injuries, traumatic brain injury, paraplegia, quadriplegia
Transportation Accidents – auto accidents, trucking accidents, train accidents, motorcycle accidents, school bus accidents, boating accidents
Work Related Injuries – construction accidents, industrial accidents
Negligence – wrongful death claims, dog bite injury, toxic molds, toxic torn litigation, slip and fall, burns
Abuse – nursing home abuse
Product Liability – harmful or defective products that companies and individuals manufacture for general sale that are involved in accidents due to some malfunction of the products’ purpose.
Defective Drugs – prescription drugs that cause serious or deadly side effects.
Medical Malpractice – injuries due to the carelessness or wrongdoing of a medical professional
Libel – written “defamation of character” in which a living person’s reputation is falsely and negatively reflected. For radio and television broadcasts, defamatory remarks are generally considered libel due to the written scripts from which they originate
Bad Faith – Direct action against insurance company for failure to pay medical bills due under a policy. Direct action against insurance company for failure to pay Uninsured Motorists Benefits.

How long do I have to file a personal injury case?
Personal injury cases must be brought within a specific period of time after the accident, after which they become ‘statute barred’ and will not succeed. The length of this strict time limit varies from state to state, but is shorter than most other types of cases and is usually around 3 years.

What is my personal injury case worth?
Determining how much your accident injuries are worth is a critical aspect of any personal injury case, and it’s the part of a claim that is most difficult to determine; the amount varies depending on your very particular circumstances. To determine what your claim is worth, insurance companies consider the types of damages for which you may be compensated. These damages include:

Medical care and related expenses
Income lost because of the accident, because of time spent unable to work or undergoing treatment for injuries
Permanent physical disability or disfigurement
Loss of family, social, and educational experiences, including missed school or training, vacation or recreation, or a special event
Emotional damages, such as stress, embarrassment, depression, or strains on family relationships – for example, the inability to take care of children, anxiety over the effects of an accident on an unborn child, or interference with sexual relations
Damaged property
Punitive damages which are monies awarded, in addition to economic damages and other non-economic damages, to punish a manufacturer for willful or wanton conduct.
What happens if I file a lawsuit?
You become the plaintiff in the case and the person who injured you becomes the defendant. Personal Injury Lawyers for each side (and for the insurer) typically begin gathering facts through exchange of documents, written questions (interrogatories) or deposition (questions that are asked in person and answered under oath). This process is call discovery. After discovery, many cases get settled before trial. Only a small percentage of personal injury actions ever go to trial.

What does it mean to settle a case?
Settling a personal injury case means that you agree to accept money in return for dropping your action against the person who injured you. You’ll actually sign a release absolving the other side of any further liability. To help you decide whether to accept the settlement offer, your lawyer will be able to provide a realistic assessment of whether a lawsuit based on your claim will be successful. (Settlement also can take place at any point in a lawsuit once it is filed, including before trial or even after a case has been tried but before a jury reaches a verdict.) The decision to accept a settlement offer is yours, not the attorney’s.

A Guide to Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
Hiring an attorney is like hiring an employee. You should always remember you are hiring someone to work for you. The attorney you choose can affect the amount of time you spend on your case and the amount of compensation you receive for your injury. You should consider the following questions when meeting with or interviewing a prospective attorney:

How much experience does the personal injury attorney have with cases like yours?
How many years has the personal injury attorney practiced law?
How would the personal injury attorney represent your point of view?
How much does the personal injury attorney charge?
Are you comfortable with the personal injury attorney? Can you share the personal aspects of your personal injury case with this person?
Do you have confidence in the personal injury attorney to resolve your legal situation?
The Personal Injury Attorney’s Responsibilities

Represent you competently. Your personal injury attorney should have the legal expertise to handle your case. The personal injury attorney should know the legal process and the law as it relates to your case.
Keep you involved in your case. You, not your personal injury attorney, must live with the outcome of your case. Your personal injury attorney’s role is to advise and recommend. Remember, you must make the final decision.
Remain available. Your personal injury attorney should regularly inform you of your personal injury cases progress. The personal injury attorney should return phone calls within a reasonable time.
Make progress toward resolving your personal injury case. Your personal injury attorney is employed by you to resolve your legal problems. You should expect your personal injury attorney to be making progress on your personal injury case.
Practice law in an ethical manner. If you have questions or believe your personal injury attorney is acting unethically, you should contact the bar association in your state.
Be realistic. Attorney cannot work miracles. They can only argue the facts as they exist. Ask your personal injury attorney what is a reasonable outcome of your legal situation.
Be honest. Tell your personal injury attorney every important fact. Your personal injury attorney cannot help you if you are not honest. If you withhold facts you waste your money and your attorney’s time.
Be a part of your personal injury case. You have to live with the outcome of your personal injury case. Let your personal injury attorney know what is an acceptable outcome. Ask questions so that you understand the legal aspects of your case and the legal process.
Respect your personal injury attorney’s time. Your personal injury attorney’s time is your money – use both wisely. If you must cancel an appointment, notify your attorney in advance. Put your questions in writing so the personal injury attorney can prepare answers ahead of time.
Communicate with your personal injury attorney. If you are not happy with your personal injury attorney, voice your concerns. Remember, this person is work for you. If a disagreement arises, first speak directly with your personal injury attorney to see if the matter can be resolved.
Understanding Attorney Fees and Legal Costs
Cost is an important factor to many individuals who are looking for a lawyer. The following should help you understand the fees involved in hiring an attorney.

Flat Fees: The attorney provides a specific service for a specified fee. This arrangement is most common in simple cases like the purchase of property or the preparation of a will or trust.
Contingency Fees: The attorney is paid only when money is collected for you, usually a percentage of the amount recovered. This fee method is most common in personal injury cases. You will be expected to pay any “advanced expenses” such as filing fees, deposition costs, etc. from your percentage of the amount received.
Retainers and Hourly Fees: the attorney often will ask for a retainer, or advance payment, before working for you. The attorney will then subtract hourly fees from this retainer. You should receive itemized statements listing services provided and fees charged. You should sign a retainer agreement when authorizing the attorney to work for you. The retainer agreement is your contract with the attorney. it should specify the hourly rate and the cost of various legal services (research, drafting of documents, filing fees, court hearings, etc.). Read your contract carefully and keep a copy.
Attorneys at KSC have received the AV rating by Martindale Hubbell and have been recognized in various publications such as Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers of Kentucky and ATLA Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

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