Pinterest wins $7.2M in legal battle with cybersquatter

The pinning social network wins a hefty damages award along with the control of 100 domain names such as pintesrest.com, pinterests.com, and pimterest.com.

Pinterest didn't only become $7.2 million richer on Monday -- it now also owns 100 domain names that bear a resemblance to Pinterest.com.

The social network won a judgment against alleged serial Chinese cybersquatter Qian Jin in US District Court in San Francisco today. Judge Richard Seeborg awarded Pinterest $7.2 million in damages and legal fees, while also issuing an injunction against Jin to hand over the domain names he'd been sitting on, including pintesrest.com, pinterests.com, pimterest.com, and pinterest.es.

"This is a good outcome for the people who use Pinterest," a company spokesperson told CNET. "We'll continue to work to protect pinners and our trademarks."

The social network filed its complaint against Jin in August 2012 claiming that he partook in cyberpiracy, trademark infringement, and trademark dilution. According to the complaint, Jin bought 100 domain names that were strikingly similar to Pinterest.com.

"Defendant Qin Jian [sic] is a serial cybersquatter who has registered and owns hundreds of domain names that are very similar to the marks of several large companies," Judge Seeborg's order granting judgment against Jin read. "By attracting more visitors to his Web sites, defendant can make more money from advertising revenue."

"Pinterest contends these domains directed Web traffic away from pinterest.com, harming them financially," he continued.

The pinning social network hasn't been Jin's only target of domain nabbing. According to the complaint Pinterest filed last year , he also went after other online companies, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Etsy, Eventbrite, Foursquare, Hotmail, Hulu, Spotify, Quora, Square, and Zynga.

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.

Pinterest was seeking $12 million in damages, which was the maximum allowed. In addition to the $7.2 million damages award and the transfer of domain names to Pinterest, Judge Seeborg also issued an injunction ordering Jin not to register "misleading or similar-sounding domain names or otherwise infringe upon the Pinterest mark in the future."

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About the author

Dara Kerr, a freelance journalist based in the Bay Area, is fascinated by robots, supercomputers and Internet memes. When not writing about technology and modernity, she likes to travel to far-off countries.

 

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