Hulu Distribution Partner, ShareTV.org, Wins “.com” URL

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Prior domain registration not a defense to Trademark Infringement, Virginia Court orders transfer of ShareTV.com to ShareTV.org.

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We hope that our case will pave the way for more startups

After seven years in business, ShareTV.org - a popular television fan site and Hulu distribution partner - has taken ownership of ShareTV.com. ShareTV.org currently attracts three million monthly unique users and delivers over 5,000 hours of daily video. Chris Richmond, the founder and CEO of ShareTV.org stated, “with our growing user base and numerous failed attempts to purchase the .com, we had no other choice but to take legal action.”

Sooyong Kim, the previous owner of ShareTV.com, operated the Domain Name as a parked page comprised solely of sponsored links and advertisements for the better part of a decade. In February 2013, ShareTV notified Sedo Inc., the company hosting the parked page at the time, of the unauthorized use of its SHARETV service mark. Sedo immediately recognized the confusion and promptly removed the Domain Name from its hosting service. (Dkt. No. 17, Courts Report and Recommendation, Page 6)

During negotiations to purchase the ShareTV.com domain name, Mr. Kim made additional changes to augment the corresponding website to more closely resemble that of ShareTV.org’s website, including prominently displaying the SHARETV service mark for the first time since Mr. Kim registered the Domain Name in 2004. (Dkt. No. 17, Courts Report and Recommendation, Page 6-7)

In April 2013, ShareTV filed a lawsuit against Mr. Kim in the Eastern District of Virginia. (Case No. 1:13-cv-00506, Dkt No. 1, Complaint For Trademark Infringement). The lawsuit included numerous state and federal trademark infringement allegations. However, because Mr. Kim registered ShareTV.com four years before ShareTV launched, the lawsuit did not include the more traditional Domain Name causes of action under the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) or the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

Ultimately, the Court looked past the fact that ShareTV.com was registered prior to ShareTV.org, and found that Mr. Kim’s “actions were done with the deliberate intent to deceive potential and actual users/consumers to [ShareTV’s] website.” (Dkt. No. 17, Courts Report and Recommendation, Page 17). The Court effectively concluded that a parked page or splash page could constitute trademark infringement, regardless of when the infringing domain was registered.

“We hope that our case will set a precedent and pave the way for future startups. The fact that we were able to prove trademark infringement against a domain registered four years before we began business is huge, and we hope it encourages companies faced with a similar situation to take action,” says Richmond.

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Chris Richmond - Founder/CEO
ShareTV, Inc
+1 (702) 427-7949
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Drew Schoentrup - General Counsel
@sharetv
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