|For immediate use||
Sept. 16, 2002 -- No. 483
UNC wins federal court case against pornographic Web site
CHAPEL HILL -- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has won a judgment against the operator of a pornographic Web site – UNCGirls.com – that featured UNC’s trademarks on the site as well as in part of the domain name.
A federal district court judge for the Middle District of North Carolina recently awarded UNC damages in the case totaling $325,521, which included statutory damages, attorney’s fees and other legal costs. The court ruling prohibited the Web site operator from operating the UNCGirls.com site and registering, using or trafficking the UNCGirls.com domain name or any other domain name containing "UNC" or any similar mark.
"This action illustrates our commitment to protecting the university’s image, as symbolized by its valuable trademarks," said Rutledge Tufts, UNC’s director of trademarks and licensing.
Added N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, "The Internet is an important tool when used for positive purposes, but sometimes it is used illegally, to exploit. With this action, we’re sending the message that we will stop people from using UNC’s name for their own gain."
UNC worked closely with the state attorney general’s office and the Collegiate Licensing Co. (CLC), which serves as the university’s licensing agent, in the federal lawsuit against the defendants and domain registrant, identified as Jack R. Erickson, individually, and The Value Companies, and Eric Draven, individually, and Universal Nude College Girls Sites.
The defendants, located in Arizona, ignored demand letters and continually attempted to evade the judicial process, officials said. They were difficult to locate and serve with the lawsuit, and failed to respond to the lawsuit, resulting in the court awarding UNC a default judgment. During the legal proceedings, the defendants also attempted to sell the domain name to a third party. CLC tracked the status of the domain name and obtained its transfer back to the university.
"This case should place potential infringers on notice that they cannot hide out in cyberspace as cover for their illegal activities," said Bruce B. Siegal, CLC senior vice president and general counsel. "Eventually we will find them and ensure that intellectual property rights are properly enforced."
The UNCGirls.com Web site is now under the control of the university. UNC is pursuing collection of the damages awarded in the court’s ruling.
- 30 -
UNC contacts: Noelle Taylor, (919) 716-6413, or Mike McFarland, News Services, (919) 962-8593
N.C. Attorney General’s Office contact: John Bason, (919) 716-6400
CLC contact: Siegal, (770) 956-0520, ext. 3217