Verizon wins $450k cybersquatting judgment

Company gets $50,000 in statutory damages per domain.

An image of justice with scales and the words "lawsuits"

Telecommunications company Verizon, through its Verizon Trademark Services LLC affiliate, has been awarded $450,000 in statutory damages against a cybersquatter.

The company filed the case in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. against Verizon Trademark Services LLC and Matt McMan.

If the corporate name of the defendant sounds confusing, it’s because the defendant took a rather interesting approach to cybersquatting. According to the court’s opinion, issued yesterday:

Per the Complaint, VTS LLC—under the exclusive control of its “sole organizer and contact,” Co-Defendant Matt McMan—registered multiple infringing domain names and trade names as part of a scheme to mislead consumers, damage the VERIZON mark, and extort Verizon. Id. ¶¶ 10, 67–68, 96–100. As early as April 2023, the various named Defendants (including VTS LLC), through McMan, began registering domains that derived from or incorporated trademarks owned by Verizon, which prompted Verizon to send cease-and-desist letters objecting to the unauthorized use of its trademarks. Id. ¶¶ 41, 44, 72. In response, Defendants doubled down, registering additional domain names (as well as trade names) incorporating the entirety of the VERIZON mark or other marks owned by Plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 45, 73–74, 77, 83–84. When registering the domains at issue, Defendants often did so anonymously, using “a popular domain privacy service” known as “Domains By Proxy.” Id. ¶¶ 42, 103.

At the height of this misconduct, VTS LLC drafted a “Complaint” alleging that Plaintiff was misleading consumers. Id. ¶ 94. This same document also boasted that Plaintiff “Can’t Even Get a DBA in Washington, DC for ‘Verizon Trademark Services’ LLC because . . . Verizon Trademark Services LLC Owned By Matt McMan Will NOT Grant ‘Verizon’ written Consent.” ECF 1-10 at 4. On multiple occasions, Defendant sent versions of this “Complaint” to Plaintiff and government officials in a coercive attempt to sell or license these marks to Verizon. See ECF 1 ¶¶ 88, 94, 100; ECF 1-11; ECF 1-12; ECF 1-13. When Verizon resisted those efforts, Defendants promptly registered even more domains incorporating the VERIZON mark.

The defendant didn’t show up in court and Verizon won a default judgment.

Verizon asked for $50,000 statutory damages for nine domain registrations, including VerizonTrademark .com and Verizon The court awarded (pdf) this amount and ordered the domains transferred to Verizon.

This appears to be the defendant’s website.

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