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The computer company allegedly offered to purchase the site from Mr. Dell several years ago, but the deal was never completed

Paul Dell, owner of DellWebSites.com, an online web site design service, is being targeted by the online PC vendor Dell.  Dell is allegedly committing "an act of parasitism" and creates "a risk of confusion" for consumers, according to Dell attorneys.  Dell is being sued for $120,000 in damages to Dell America, $60,000 to Dell France, each remaining Dell company $48,000 and $600 for each time the word Dell is used on his web site.

(Paul) Dell is going to fight the charges in court, but it is obvious that his legal battle with the company will most likely be shortlived.  Several years ago a similar case occurred when Mike Rowe was served cease and desist letters for MikeRoweSoft.com.

Update 02/20/2006:  We have been informed that the computer company Dell never made an offer to purchase the domain from Paul Dell.


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Doubtless This Will Make It to Court
By Ard on 2/18/2006 3:18:58 PM , Rating: 3
There are a number of terms that ppl are throwing around that are just completely wrong and off-base. First and foremost, Dell does not have a copyright in the word "Dell" or their brand. What Dell has is a trademark in the symbol "Dell". What they're suing on is trademark dilution and cybersquatting, governed by the ACPA. The reason I say this is not going to make it to court is twofold. #1, this case will probably be settled, and #2, I don't believe a reasonable court correctly applying the law would find for Dell.

Why do I think a reasonable court wouldn't find for Dell? Simple, the law isn't in their favor. To be liable for cybersquatting, Dell has to prove a number of things:

quote:
(i) has a bad faith intent to profit from that mark...; and (ii) registers, traffics in, or uses a domain name that -- (I) in the case of a mark that is distinctive..., is identical or confusingly similar to the mark; (II) in the case of a famous mark..., is identical or confusingly similar to the mark.


There's also a bad faith determination that's factored in, which includes simply registering the domain name for the sole purpose of gaining profit from the mark's owner rather than using it for some bona fide purpose. The distinction btw famous and distinctive, for those that are wondering, is famous pertains to celebrity marks (Britney Spears name for example). Distinctive is something that has exposure as a brand (AMD, Intel, Dell, VW, etc.).

Now, if we apply the law to the facts at hand, I think it's pretty obvious that Dell can't win. If you go to Paul Dell's website, there's absolutely nothing there that would indicate that it's confusing or identical with Dell's mark. The website provides web design services by Paul Dell, hence the name "Dell Web Sites". Any idiot on the street would know that "Dellwebsites.com" has nothing to do with "Dell.com", either by going directly to the site or just by seeing a Dell commercial. Even taking the two at face value, there's nothing confusing about them, other than the fact that they both contain the word Dell, and that's simply not enough.

Well, that blows the 2nd prong out of the water, but what about the first? Did Paul Dell have a bad faith intent? Gotta say no on that count as well. He's had the website for a good number of years now and was even offered to sell it. The deal simply never went through. Some of you might argue that he was holding out for more money but I highly doubt that's the case. Why? Because Dell wouldn't have offered anymore than what they originally put on the table. Why do you think they're bringing suit now? The fact that Paul Dell tried Dell.com, found out it was taken, and came up with Dellwebsites.com also speaks to the fact that this wasn't bad faith. Oh, and there's also just the small fact that Dell happens to be the guy's last name.

Like I said, any reasonable court applying the law isn't going to find for Dell on this issue. There's absolutely no confusion btw the two marks, nor is there any dilution. And there certainly wasn't any bad faith, as Paul Dell has been using his site for a number of years to advertise his design services. Those of you who think I'm wrong are more than welcome to debate this. For more on a situation similar to this, you might want to check out Virtual Works v. Volkswagen of America, Inc., 238 F.3d 264 (2001).




By Ard on 2/18/2006 3:21:13 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, 1 other thing, Dell tried this before in 2002 but didn't bring suit. I think we know why based on what I've just discussed.


RE: Doubtless This Will Make It to Court
By cubby1223 on 2/18/2006 3:47:15 PM , Rating: 2
Dell doesn't care if they will likely loose in a court case. I'm sure the idea is to at the least force the other person to come up with hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to pay all the court & lawyer fees before a verdict is ever reached. The guy goes broke, that's a victory for Dell.


By Ard on 2/18/2006 3:58:21 PM , Rating: 2
This is undoubtedly true. However, if the Court sees this is as being something completely off-base, they could award Paul attorney's fees.


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