×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Judge Rules for GoDaddy in Academy’s Lawsuit Over Oscar Trademarks

A federal judge ruled that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences failed to show that GoDaddy acted in “bad faith” with an intent to profit off of Academy trademarks, including ones for the annual Oscar telecast.

U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr., in a ruling made public on Thursday, wrote that GoDaddy had met its affirmative good faith safe harbor defense in a surprising turn in the five-year-old litigation.

The Academy had sued GoDaddy in 2010, contending that it was liable as it allowed customers to buy Academy- and Oscar-related domain names, and then share in revenue from ads on those pages.

The court had already determined that 237 of 293 domain names are “confusingly similar” to the Academy trademarks, and that GoDaddy used or trafficked in those domains by enrolling them in its parked pages program as the licensee. GoDaddy itself did not register any of the domains in question, Birotte wrote.

He wrote that “unique findings” show that GoDaddy did not have a bad faith intent to profit from the Academy trademarks.

“GoDaddy reasonably relied in good faith on the representations made by the registrants of the Accused Domains stating that the registration of those domains did not violate any third party trademark rights,” he wrote. “As a result, GoDaddy could not have used or trafficked in any of the Accused Domains with a subjective bad faith intent to profit from the AMPAS Marks until such time as GoDaddy received notice by a third party of a potential issue.”

He also wrote that every registrant represents that the domain name does not violate third party rights.

Birotte’s decision came in a 128-page findings of fact and conclusions of law. A trial in the case was held last month.

“The evidence is undisputed that once AMPAS or any other trademark-holder called GoDaddy’s good faith belief into question by filing a takedown request, GoDaddy always responded by immediately (sometimes within a matter of minutes) reassigning the domain to an advertisement-free template,” he wrote.

He also noted that “it is difficult to see how AMPAS could complain or be harmed if a visitor to domains like ‘oscar360.com,’ ‘oscarcomedy.com,’ ‘theoscarteam.com,’ or ‘makingtheroundswithoscar.com’ visited a web page that displayed only GoDaddy banner ads and contained no reference to the AMPAS Marks.”

He did write that some ads appeared that did reference Academy trademarks, but they were third party ads controlled by Google, and that there was no evidence that GoDaddy “subjectively intended” for them to appear.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported on the decision.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Weinstein Can Get a Fair Trial in Manhattan, Says D.A.

    The Manhattan District Attorney’s office argued on Friday that Harvey Weinstein can get a fair trial in Manhattan, and blamed the producer’s defense team for much of the pre-trial publicity in the case. Weinstein’s attorneys have asked an appellate court to transfer the case — which is set to begin on Sept. 9 — to [...]

  • Leonardo DiCaprio Madonna

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna Call for Action on Amazon Wildfires

    As wildfires rage at an alarming rate in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest, celebrities are using their platforms to bring awareness to the deforestation’s impact and to call for action. In the past week, stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna, Cara Delevingne and Ariana Grande have taken to Instagram to express their frustration with the lack of [...]

  • 'The Durrells' TV Show

    Greece Sweetens Production Incentives as Struggling Country's Economy Rebounds

    It’s taken the better part of a decade for Greece to show signs of recovery from the crippling crisis that almost pushed it out of the Eurozone. Now, with the economy slowly on the mend, the government is doubling down on efforts to jump-start the local film industry, giving a dramatic overhaul to the incentive [...]

  • Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group announced it has entered a partnership with the music streaming and discovery service Audiomack, marking the platform’s first licensing deal with a major label. According to the announcement, the two companies will work together on content concepts and explore ways to break emerging artists, connecting music fans with rising talent before they [...]

  • Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on

    Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on ‘Brilliant’ Album and Campaign

    Two days after Taylor Swift fired off the latest salvo in her battle with Scooter Braun, the manager congratulated the singer on the campaign around her “brilliant” new album, “Lover,” which arrived last night. The message came after Swift said she will be re-recording songs from her first six albums, which are now owned by [...]

  • David Koch Obit

    David Koch, Libertarian Activist and Billionaire Philanthropist, Dies at 79

    David Koch, brother of Charles Koch and one of the owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the U.S., has died at 79. According to the New York Times, Charles Koch announced the news of his brother’s death in a statement. Though he did not attribute to David’s death to a particular cause, [...]

  • Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing

    Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing From Usher, Adam Lambert

    A Beverly Hills real estate agent has been arrested on charges of stealing from the homes of celebrities, including Usher, Adam Lambert and “Real Housewives” star Dorit Kemsley. Jason Emil Yaselli, 32, is accused of encouraging an accomplice, Benjamin Ackerman, to enter homes during open houses in order to steal from them. Ackerman allegedly sold [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content