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Virtual Works, Inc. v. Volkswagen of America, Inc.

238 F.3d 264 (4th Cir. 2001)

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Virtual Works, Inc. v. Volkswagen of America, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

238 F.3d 264 (4th Cir. 2001)

Facts

Christopher Grimes and James Anderson were principals of the company Virtual Works, Inc. (defendant). Grimes and Anderson registered the internet domain name vw.net as the domain name for Virtual Works. In addition to representing the initials of the company name, they chose to register that domain name because they believed consumers would think vw.net was a site affiliated with Volkswagen, Inc. (plaintiff), and hoped that in the future they would be able to sell the domain name to Volkswagen for a large profit. Two years after Grimes and Anderson registered the domain name, certain Volkswagen dealerships contacted them to express interest in purchasing the name. Anderson then contacted Volkswagen’s trademark department with an offer to sell vw.net. Anderson said that Volkswagen had 24 hours to respond to his offer, after which Virtual Works would auction vw.net off to the highest bidder. Volkswagen brought suit to challenge Virtual Works’s use of the domain name under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), 15 U.S.C. § 1125. The district court held that Virtual Works had violated the ACPA with its use of vw.net and ordered Virtual Works to relinquish the rights to the domain name to Volkswagen. Virtual Works appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wilkinson, C.J.)

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