MySpace Issues Cease & Desist To MySpace Domain Sites
The MySpace legal team has sent out Cease & Desist letters to the owners of domain names and web sites which use the MySpace name. Sites such as MySpaceCity.com, MySpaceAdds.com, and MySpaceSupport.com have received such letters which are threatening legal action against those sites for use of the MySpace brand in the domain name.
This may be a case of big boy bullying and intimidation since most of these sites do a good job of differentiating themselves from Rupert Murdoch’s MySpace – in line to be the Yahoo/MTV/Google/Blinkx of News Corp. Ironically, such sites offer tools and downloads to a very loyal MySpace community including layouts, graphics and image hosting.
Here is a copy of the MySpace Cease & Desist letter as sent to MySpaceSupport.com:
MySpace, Inc. is a Delaware corporation (“MySpace”) that operates an online community under the federally registered trademark MYSPACE (Reg. No. 2,911,041).
It has come to our attention that you are operating websites under the domain names www.MySpaceSupport.com and www.MySpaceTalk.com. We are writing to demand an immediate halt to certain ongoing illegal activity.
You are illegally using the MYSPACE mark in your domain names and on your websites. Your websites offer visitors, among other things, MySpace support and discussion forums, codes, tutorials, and toolbars to allow MySpace members to personalize their member websites. MySpace has not authorized the creation of any of these features or the use of our federally registered trademark.
You are also illegally using the MySpace logo on your website.
Your activities violate various federal and state laws, including without limitation trademark and trade dress infringement and false designation of origin under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1051, et seq., and trademark dilution under the Federal Trademark Dilution Act of 1995, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c).
By this letter, MySpace demands that you and any of your affiliates, officers, employees, agents, or other persons or entities acting in concert with you or at your direction, immediately cease and desist from the activities described above in connection with your website or other products or services. Without limiting the foregoing, we hereby demand that you remove the sites www.MySpaceSupport.com and www.MySpaceTalk.com from the internet, cease using the name “MySpaceSupport” and “MySpaceTalk”, and relinquish and transfer the www.MySpaceSupport.com and www.MySpaceTalk.com domains to MySpace.
Your activities are causing and will continue to cause MySpace substantial and irreparable harm. You will be liable for the damages suffered by MySpace, and will be subject to penalties, fines and even criminal imprisonment.
If you have any questions, we can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or the below-referenced address. MySpace expects you to comply with this demand as soon as possible, but in no event later than five (5) business days after the date of this letter. Please contact us immediately regarding the mechanics of transferring the www.MySpaceSupport.com and www.MySpaceTalk.com domains to MySpace.
This letter is not a complete recitation of all the claims, issues or facts related to this matter. This letter should not be construed as a waiver of any rights by MySpace, including, without limitation, the right to seek monetary damages, equitable relief, and attorneys fees, all of which are expressly reserved.
Very truly yours,
As you may have guessed, the Cease & Desist letters from MySpace have upset owners of MySpace support and skins sites and have left some a bit confused as to their legal rights. Ryan of MySpaceCity.com writes on SitePoint Forums:
“I recieved a C&D aswell for MySpaceCity.com. They pretty much told me to shut down the site and give them the domain name. I will shut down the site and just direct the current traffic to a new domain.
I think is outrageous hense they are trying to claim damages while these sites promote MySpace so much everyday.
I am debating on either getting a lawyer and taking them to court, this will in return give me around 6 months more of my site running and collecting revenue, then just give them the domain, heh.
They have no right to take my domain name from me. They have the right to get the site shut down, that’s how I am looking at this.”
The Cease & Desist orders also come on the heels of Murdoch’s News Corp announcing some new bells & whistles to their MySpace adoptive child which they hope to be the center of their new Social Media web empire. Mike Boland writes on Local Media Journal that Rupert Murdoch has announced the integration of downloadable video, VoIP and IM to MySpace, which News Corp. acquired for $580 million in July. These moves are intended to drive use of the wildly popular social networking site and boost ad revenues (its main revenue stream).
Free video, IM and voice are hoped to create more stickiness among MySpace users, in addition to increasing traffic and driving ad revenues. The site has a total of 47 million users and is adding about a million per week. Its average user age is 20, a demographic projected to be heavy users of video, IM and voice. Indeed, MySpace users already have a proven interest in music content and social networking, which these new offerings will each address in some way.
I really like this sentence in Mike’s write up “In fact, since News Corp. acquired MySpace, I’ve been waiting to see what it will do to screw up the site.” Essentially meaning, when is News Corp going to try and sneak in some really bad advertising or co-registration plan which will p!ss off the loyal MySpace users and start a Mecca to some new service like Xanga? I wonder if the Cease & Desist and attempted shut downs of independently owned MySpace support and tool sites is a first step to doing so.