Case of the Day: Chanel v. Bestbuyhandbag.com

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.

About Ted Folkman

Ted Folkman is a shareholder with Murphy & King, a Boston law firm, where he has a complex business litigation practice. He is the author of International Judicial Assistance (MCLE 2d ed. 2016), a nuts-and-bolts guide to international judicial assistance issues, and of the chapter on service of process in the ABA's forthcoming treatise on International Aspects of US Litigation, and he is the publisher of Letters Blogatory, the Web's first blog devoted to international judicial assistance, which the ABA recognized as one of the best 100 legal blogs in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

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