Malta Intellectual Property & Internet Lawyers

(First Hall, Civil Court)
CYBER SQUATTING (29/03/2004)

FACTS: The defendant registered the domain name Clamus in his own name. The plaintiff company is the owner of the brand name Clamus.

JUDGEMENT: The court held that the registration of a domain name by the defendant with the intent to sell such domain name to the legitimate holder of the mark at a later stage, amounts to unfair competition.

The court held that even though the site had no content, the mere fact that the consumer could access the website and associate it it with the plaintiff company, would amount to unfair competition. Moreover, the consumer could even get a bad impression of the plaintiff company when he accedes the site and finds no content and conclude that the plaintiff company is not as reputable as it might seem.

The court ordered the defendant not to make use of the domain name and to cancel the registration within a month from the date of the judgement, failing which a daily penalty would have to be paid.

COMMENTS: This judgement is important in two aspects:

(1) It is the first landmark case decided by Maltese Courts in relation to cyber squatting
(2) The court chose not to accept the plaintiffs claims on the quantification and payment of damages and did not sentence the defendant for the payment of such damages.

Not imposing payment of damages on the defendant might somewhat diminish the effect of this case. However, one still has to concede that this case is still very important in that at last Maltese courts have faced the problem of cyber squatting and are addressing it directly.