We are developing a county website and have discovered several websites that look very official for our county. Some of the domain names are for sale for $1000+. Is there any way to stop these sites or help users avoid them? Should we buy up similar domain names? Other thoughts?
Years ago there was a guy who put up a website that looked a lot like an official website for one of our officials. We sent the dude a very stern letter. While we never got a direct response, the guy revamped the fake website so that it was much less likely that anyone would mistake it for an official site of ours. So -- try a stern letter. And be specific about what you think they need to change. Just a thought.
Thanks for the suggestion.
You might find the following and maybe even TPC 33.07 interesting:
TB&CC § 325.004. Creation and Use of Web Page or Domain Name for Fraudulent Purpose Prohibited
A person may not, with the intent to engage in conduct involving the fraudulent use or possession of identifying information of another person:
(1) create a web page or Internet domain name that is represented as a legitimate online business without the authorization of the registered owner of that business; and
(2) use that web page or a link to that web page, that domain name, or another site on the Internet to induce, request, or solicit another person to provide identifying information for a purpose that the other person believes is legitimate.
§ 325.006. Civil Action for Injunctive Relief or Damages
(a) Any of the following persons may bring a civil action against a person who violates this chapter:
(1) a person who is engaged in the business of providing Internet access service to the public and is adversely affected by the violation;
(2) an owner of a web page or trademark who is adversely affected by the violation; or
(3) the attorney general.
(b) A person who brings an action under this section may obtain:
(1) injunctive relief that restrains the violator from continuing the violation;
(2) subject to Subsection (c), damages in an amount equal to the greater of:
(A) actual damages arising from the violation; or
(B) $ 100,000 for each violation of the same nature; or
(3) both injunctive relief and damages.
(c) The court may increase the amount of an award of actual damages in an action brought under this section to an amount not to exceed three times the actual damages sustained if the court finds that the violation has reoccurred with sufficient frequency to constitute a pattern or practice.
(d) A plaintiff who prevails in an action brought under this section is entitled to recover reasonable attorney's fees and court costs.
(e) For purposes of this section, violations are of the same nature if the violations consist of the same course of conduct or action, regardless of the number of times the conduct or act occurred.
Critter: Thanks for this authority. Do you know if a county has standing for this cause of action?
I don't know for sure but this is a proprietary matter and statute so it would seem available to the county. It doesn't seem to exclude it. I used it privately a few years ago when someone was pretending to be a friend of mine's business. I think it mostly helped me put some teeth in a letter and perhaps to encourage that person to reasonably sell the domain. I have never heard of a governmental entity using it though. I would think that the person with the county-like domain will be concerned about the statute even if its never been used by any county.
Be careful, though. Sometimes these things can backfire.
Interesting novel issue for government entity standing. Also interesting and timely article that is very similar to our situation. Thanks for this info.
Thanks Mack, that is a great story and wise advice, I had a letter backfire several years ago and learned a fair bit about the fair debt collection act as a consequence. Good stuff.
|Powered by Social Strata|
© TDCAA, 2001. All Rights Reserved.