Pinterest gives legal punch to 'serial cybersquatter'

Sick of a Chinese cybersquatter allegedly snatching dozens of domain names similar to Pinterest, the company files a lawsuit on charges of cyberpiracy, trademark infringement, and more.

Pinterest is sounding its battle cry -- it's had enough of one certain alleged Chinese cybersquatter.

The social network filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco last week against Qian Jin, who is from Nanjing, China. Pinterest claimed that Jin partook in cyberpiracy, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and more. According to the complaint, Jin has snatched dozens of domain names that are strikingly similar to pinterest.com, including pintesrest.com and pinterest.es.

"This action arises from Defendant's bad-faith registration and use of numerous domain names containing, or confusingly similar to, Pinterest's famous and federally registered PINTEREST trademark," the court filing states. "Defendant has no affiliation with Pinterest but has nevertheless branded his websites, and has filed baseless trademark applications, to take unlawful advantage of Pinterest's extraordinary popularity."

The virtual pin board hasn't been Jin's only target of domain nabbing, apparently he has also gone after a whole host of other online companies, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Etsy, Eventbrite, Foursquare, Hotmail, Hulu, Spotify, Quora, Square, and Zynga.

"Defendant has engaged in a similar pattern of infringing behavior against other famous web services and is well aware that his actions are in bad faith and violate others' trademark rights," the complaint says. "In short, Defendant is a serial cybersquatter who has registered and owns hundreds of infringing domain names."

Cybersquatting is nothing new, but rarely have companies been able to pinpoint one distinct person gathering up so many domains. Yahoo went to Beijing in 1998 in an effort to claim its domain name from Chinese squatters and Apple has been troubled by squatters that led users to Web sites that sell pornography instead of Apple-related products.

The fact that Jin is also trying to trademark some of the domain names is particularly worrisome to Pinterest. The social network can fight the trademark filings in the U.S., but it might not be as easy in China. In the complaint, Pinterest is asking the U.S. court to stop Jin from using its name and it's also requesting that the court tell the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to refuse any associated trademark applications.

Here's a copy of the complaint filed by Pinterest last week:

Pinterest Complaint

 

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