August 16, 2011 |

Internet Piracy

Our client is the world-wide provider of an online game. The revenue model allows free gameplay, with players optionally purchasing certain character enhancing items, better server access, etc. This involves the free distribution of client-side software, while the server-side software remains on the client’s servers and, as such, is an unpublished work for copyright purposes. Several years ago a copy of the server side software was stolen and was being utilized by an individual from China, in conjunction with a confederate in Poland, to offer a competing version of the game. We obtained a U.S. copyright (on the unpublished work) and a U.S. trademark (on the name of the game) and we then filed suit in U.S. Federal Court. We then effected formal service in Poland, in accordance with the Hague Convention. The pirate website was closed on the day service was effective, which was already a major victory for our client. We then proceeded to obtain an award of statutory damages (for willful infringement), an award of attorney fees and costs, and an order transferring the infringing domain name to our client. [These results were non-trivial because we had to overcome the statute of limitations (applicable to published works, but not to unpublished works) and we had to overcome a number of recent decisions which circumscribe the right to obtain turnover order for a domain name.]