Case of the Day: Chanel v. Bestbuyhandbag.com
Posted on January 6, 2015
The case of the day is Chanel, Inc. v. Bestbuyhandbag.com (S.D. Fla. 2014). Chanel sued a bunch of defendants for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition. The allegation was that the defendants were selling knockoffs via their websites.
The judge easily and correctly granted Chanel’s motion under FRCP 4(f)(3) for leave to serve process by email. Although some of the defendants were thought to be in China, and although China has objected to service by postal channels (and service by email is in my view impermissible under the Hague Service Convention in any case), under Article 1, the Convention simply doesn’t apply when the defendant’s address is unknown.
The case is, therefore, pretty routine. I mention it just to highlight two points from the court’s order granting the motion. First, the court directed the emails to be sent to the addresses the domain name registrants had provided to the domain name registrars. This seems like good practice to me in cases where the business has no real-world presence and seems to do exist only as a website and where it’s impossible to identify any human being associated with the business.
Second, the court directed Chanel to maintain a notice of the lawsuit on a web page at servingnotice.com. I am not familiar with that website, though a Google search suggests Chanel has used it more than once, as has Tiffany at least once. I am trying to learn a little more about the website and will let you know what I find out.