Rigsby, et al v. GoDaddy Inc., et al

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Trademarks
  • Date Filed: 08-09-2022
  • Case #: 21-16182
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: McKeown, CJ. for the Court; Thomas, CJ.; Clifton, CJ.
  • Full Text Opinion

"Where domain names are used to infringe, the infringement does not result from a registrar's registration activities, but from the registrant's use... in connection with goods and services." Lockheed Martin Corp. v. Network Solutions, Inc. 194 F.3d 980, 985 (9th Cir. 1999). “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” 47 USC §230(c)(1).

Scott Rigsby challenged the trial court’s dismissal of his claims under the Lanham Act 15 USC §1125, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and the transfer of venue per appellee’s forum selection clause. The Rigsby Foundation failed to renew their online domain registered with GoDaddy, Inc., which was acquired by a third party and sought to reinstate themselves as the owner of the domain. To state a claim under § 1125(a), a party must plausibly allege that another party “use[d]” the claimant's domain name “in commerce.” 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1).  The Court affirmed the lower court’s decision because the “use in commerce” requirement of the Lanham Act was not satisfied as the “use” was carried out by a third party. Additionally, because the Rigsby Foundation was not “using” the domain for its own purposes, the third party was shielded from liability. Lockheed Martin Corp. v. Network Solutions, Inc.194 F.3d 980 (9th Cir. 1999).  As a domain registrar and not an information content provider the GoDaddy, Inc., was not liable for content created by third parties and could not be treated as the content publisher. 47 USC § 230. The Court dismissed the challenge to the transfer order for lack of jurisdiction. AFFIRMED in part, DISMISSED in part.

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