Domain dispute hits earth

A Massachusetts clothing company files a trademark suit over a small hobbyist site's use of earth.com.

A Massachusetts clothing company has sued the owner of a small hobbyist Web site in federal court, alleging that his domain name, earth.com, infringes the company's trademark.

In an interview, earth.com owner Tony Sanders said he was served with the complaint today, although the lawsuit was filed in federal court in Boston last November. Sanders said his site does not conduct any commercial activities and added that he's been using the domain name since 1994, long before Framingham, Massachusetts-based Mondial Trading Company used the name Earth to market a line shoes.

According to Mondial's complaint, the company acquired 1985 trademarks for the terms "Earth" and "Earth Shoe." "Without authorization from Mondial, the defendant registered earth.com as a domain name on the Internet under the name earth.com," the complaint alleged.

Sanders, who said he will be unable to afford an attorney to fight the lawsuit, contended that Mondial bought the rights to the terms only after he had registered his Web site. That factor weighs in favor of him legally using the domain name, he said. Sanders said the non-commercial purpose of his Web site also prevented Mondial from prevailing on trademark infringement claims.

Attorneys for Mondial were not immediately available for comment.

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