Meta Platforms and Namecheap settle trademark lawsuit

Lawsuit might be coming to a close after two years.

Logo for Meta, previously Facebook, with word Meta and an infinity symbol like an Oculus glasses

Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: FB) and domain name registrar Namecheap are settling their trademark lawsuit.

Meta (Facebook at the time) sued (pdf) Namecheap and its Whois privacy service in March 2020 for alleged cybersquatting and trademark infringement. It complained that Namecheap’s Whois privacy service was not disclosing the ownership details behind domains that Meta said infringed on its trademarks. Meta argued that the Whois privacy service was therefore responsible for the actions of the domain registrants. In a blog post, it said it was suing to protect people from domain name fraud.

Namecheap argued that it was simply a matter of due process and protecting its users’ privacy. In a blog post published in June 2020, Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall wrote:

…However, trademark protection is a very specialized legal field. Whether a mark is protected and whether the use of something similar to the mark violates that protection depends on a multitude of factors. This inquiry is complicated by differing laws of differing jurisdictions, both U.S. and foreign. Because it is so specialized, we believe that only a court of law is the proper forum to make a legal determination on whether there has been a trademark infringement and Namecheap (or a similarly situated company) should not have to act as the arbiter of complex facts and laws every time someone claims infringement. And, as I’ll explain later, Facebook does not need your personal information to investigate, act on, and/or enforce an alleged trademark violation in a court of law.

The parties have filed over 180 items on the docket since the lawsuit started, but it appears both sides have agreed to a settlement in principle. Meta Platforms and Namecheap filed a notice of settlement with the court today.

Meta is embroiled in a similar lawsuit with registrar OnlineNic. In that lawsuit, OnlineNic said it would cease fighting the lawsuit and shut down. But that didn’t happen; OnlineNic still operates today. The parties in that lawsuit are still fighting as Meta tries to pull 35.cn, a Chinese company that Meta argues is an alter ego of OnlineNic, into the suit.

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