Infamous Cybersquatter Shut Down by Judge
Apr 14, 2000 12:00 AM PT
A federal court judge in Boston, Massachusetts has ordered a notorious Canadian cybersquatter to close down a site that infringes upon the copyright of search engine Northern Light.com.
In issuing an indefinite injunction, U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock ordered Jeff Burgar of Alberta, Canada to shut down Northernlights.com and to provide a link to the home page of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based search engine.
Burgar had unsuccessfully claimed that the U.S. court had no jurisdiction in Canada.
New Cybersquatting Law Invoked
The judge ruled that the Canadian site did, in fact, infringe upon the firm's copyright, and that Burgar was in violation of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act passed by the U.S. Congress last year.
Some observers believe that Burgar will appeal the injunction and force a trial, basing his defense on the assertion that Congress passed an unconstitutional law and that free speech rights are at stake.
The next court date is set for June 5th.
Defendant No Stranger to Lawsuits
This episode is not Burgar's first run-in with cybersquatting laws. Last December, a group calling itself the Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports Logos (CAPS) -- representing four of the major sports leagues in the U.S. and Canada -- sued him for poaching domain names just weeks after the law was passed. That case is still pending in New York courts.
Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard won an injunction against Burgar, and pop superstar Mariah Carey recently took legal action against him as well.
Burgar has reportedly registered at least 1,500 domain names with Network Solutions, including such names as yankees1.com, redsox1.com, mets1.com and loislane.com. He claims to have registered those sites for use in connection with his e-mail service, but the judge was not convinced.
The judge also cast doubt on Burgar's argument that Northern Lights is a common phrase, referring to the Aurora Borealis.
The Northernlights.com site was still in operation as of early Friday, carrying a disclaimer that it is not affiliated with the search engine and offering background on the Northern Light legal dispute -- including a copy of Burgar's affidavit in the case.
Founded by Librarians
Northern Light, which launched a major advertising campaign late last year in a bid to capture audience share in the crowded search engine market, touts itself as the most powerful Internet search engine with 220 million Web pages indexed and more than 20 million articles.
In the past, Northern Light itself has run into legal troubles of its own over the re-use of trade and scholarly articles, many of which it charges users to access through its Special Collection.