Re/Max, the owner of numerous trademark registrations the RE/MAX mark, offers real estate brokerage services through its numerous franchise offices located throughout the United States and in 70 countries worldwide. Re/Max has promoted its services online at http://www.remax.com/ since 1995.
According to the complaint, Re/Max became aware of the domain name http://www.remaxbrazil.com/ sometime in April 2007. The registrant was GoDaddy’s privacy service, Domains By Proxy. After threatening Domains By Proxy with liability if it didn’t reveal the name, Re/Max was contacted by Lefkowitz, a local Las Vegas real estate agent specializing in high-end Las Vegas real estate although she has not worked under or been affiliated with Re/Max (pictured below -- some locals might recognize her face as one of those agents advertising at the bus stops around town). Lefkowitz acknowledged owning the domain name as well as http://www.remaxriodejaneiro.com/. She claimed to have spoken with a Re/Max representative in Brazil about a master franchise for the country.
At first, Lefkowitz’s counsel indicated that Lefkowitz would transfer the domain names to Re/Max. However, the same counsel later indicated he no longer represented Lefkowitz. When her new counsel contacted Re/Max, Lefkowitz apparently was no longer interested in transferring the domain names. However, this counsel did indicate that she would sell them to Re/Max for $15,000. When Re/Max reiterated its cybersquatting position, Lefkowitz’s counsel, in rejecting Re/Max’s offer to reimburse Lefkowitz for the registration costs of the domain names, stated that Lefkowitz would accept a “nuisance value settlement of $6,000.”
According to the complaint, since April 207, Defendants have purportedly been registering a litany of “remax” related domain names with the names of countries worldwide including remaxfrance.com, remaxsouthkorea.com, remaxbrunei.com, remaxmontecarlo.com, remaxperu.com, and remaxsrilanka.com.
Re/Max’s causes of action are for cybersquatting, registered trademark infringement, unfair competition, Nevada state trademark infringement, common law trademark infringement, and deceptive trade practices under Nevada law (NRS §598.0915).
Re/Max seeks an injunction against the Defendants to stop them from registering any more “remax” domain names, an court order transferring any and all “remax” domain names owned by Defendants to Re/Max, as well as cybersquatting statutory damages under 1117(d) (not less than $1,000 and not more than $100,000 per domain name as the court considers just).
Of course, the above reflects Re/Max’s side of the story. Steve Green’s article provides the “other side of the story” (as reporters are so often much better at providing than attorneys). According to Lefkowitz, who was surprised by the lawsuit and denied infringing on the RE/MAX trademark [Comment: but possibly not understanding cybersquatting law], said the names were registered years ago but “never activated” (which in her mind probably means she never put up anything – possibly not realizing that GoDaddy gladly puts up a “landing page” for its customers – of course, whether or not she shared in any click-through revenue is another issue). Lefkowitz stated that all of the domain names expired except remaxbrazil.com, which will expire in a few months.
Note: A quick WHOIS check of remaxperu.com and remaxsouthkorea.com reveals that they are set to expire June 9, 2010, and still in the name of C. Rosa Inc.