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Court tosses out Porsche domain-name suit

Company's attempt to sue domain names, not people, rejected by U.S. district court

© Computerworld (IDG)

By Kathleen Ohlson - FRAMINGHAM

Porsche Cars North America Inc. was hit with a legal setback this week when a federal court threw out Porsche's lawsuit against the holder of the and Internet domains.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that the sports car maker can only sue "the persons or entities individually who registered the Internet domain names, but cannot sue just the domain names," Porsche said in a statement.

In response, Porsche officials were "disappointed" with the decision. "An in rem lawsuit is the only feasible way Porsche can put an end to the cyberabuse and cyberpiracy it faces on the Internet," said Patricia Britton, general counsel for Porsche Cars North America, in the statement. The company plans to appeal the ruling, asking the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the "in rem" lawsuit. In an in rem suit, the plaintiff sues property or things instead of people or organizations.

Porsche filed the lawsuit in January, charging 135 Internet domain names used incorporate variations of its name. Soon after, 71 of the registrants voluntarily surrendered their domain names and an additional 63 relinquished their claims to the names by not responding to the suit.

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