William E. Wallace, III Intellectual Property Litigation Practice (202) 467-7752
Eleanor Kerlow Director, Marketing & Communications (202) 467-7799
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP filed a lawsuit on
behalf of leading online retailer Amazon.com against cybersquatter Greg Lloyd Smith and his affiliated companies. The suit alleges violations of the federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) statutes, trademark infringement, trademark dilution and copyright infringement, among other legal claims. The 11-count suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware on August 18, 1999. Morgan Lewis has been named lead trial counsel, with Intellectual Property litigator William E. Wallace, III steering the trial team.
The suit accuses Smith and his wife, who live in Greece, of establishing a copycat Internet site with the domain names www.amazon.gr and amazon.com.gr. The couple allegedly has held themselves out as "Amazon.gr, Greece's Biggest Bookstore," in a transparent attempt to confuse consumers by trading on Amazon.com's success. The suit also accuses Smith and his wife of demanding $1.63 million from Amazon.com to buy their operation, which Amazon.com's complaint describes as a "thinly veiled shakedown."
"The Amazon.com suit was filed because companies are saying they will no longer be the target of petty extortionists," says Wallace, who chairs the Intellectual Property Litigation practice, "This is why the case has a RICO claim and may be the first, but not the last, Internet RICO suit." He adds: "Legitimate and honest users are realizing that they have a special responsibility to protect the integrity of the Internet."
"We have acted on this matter swiftly and aggressively," says Amazon.com spokesman Bill Curry. "We are putting other copycats and cybersquatters on notice that we will go after them."
In its complaint, Amazon.com is seeking treble damages and an injunction to prevent Smith and his affiliates from using the infringing domain names and the Web site. Amazon.com filed an earlier lawsuit against Smith and his affiliates in Greece, where he operates the offending Web site. A hearing has been scheduled in that matter for September 16.
At Morgan Lewis, partner Wallace and associate William M. Bosch of the Washington office, and partner Eric Kraeutler of the Philadelphia office are representing Amazon.com. Local Delaware counsel includes partners Lewis H. Lazarus and Joseph R. Slights, III of Morris, James, Hitchens & Williams in Wilmington.