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Jeff Dunham’s New Wife is Suing His Old Wife Over Domain Names
#1
MONDAY,26 January 2015 THE DOMAINS
According to the news from Domain Forum of China on January 26th, here is one you don’t see everyday

Jeff Dunham the famous ventriloquist who shows up every other weekend on Comedy Central in three hour blocks of programming, has an interesting situation going on in real life.

It seems that the ex-wife of Mr. Dunham, Paige Dunham decided to play the domain game and register the names of his future wife under privacy. Then the ex-wife looked to sell those names to the new wife for a substantial sum.

The Washington Post covered the story:

[Audrey] Dunham v. [Paige] Dunham (C.D. Cal. Jan. 21, 2015), involving the current and past wives of “ventriloquist, producer and stand-up comedian Jeff Dunham” (Hollywood Reporter, Eriq Gardner).

On or about January 3, 2012, Defendant, without notice to Plaintiff, registered the following domain names through Network Solutions, LLC, a domain name registering company: AudreyDunham.com, AudreyDunham.net, AudreyDunham.us, and AudreyDunham.biz (collectively “Accused Domains”). On information and belief, Defendant concealed her name as the registrant for AudreyDunham.com, AudreyDunham.net, and AudreyDunham.biz domains by employing the services of Perfect Privacy, LLC, a company that specializes in keeping the identities of domain name registrants private. Defendant knew at the time she registered the Accused Domains, that Plaintiff would soon change her name to AUDREY DUNHAM….

On or about January 4, 2013, Plaintiff asked Defendant, in writing, to transfer the Accused Domains to Plaintiff and offered to reimburse Defendant for any out-of-pocket expenses associated with transferring the Accused Domains. Defendant refused to transfer the Accused Domains. On or about January 18, 2013, Defendant, through her agent, offered to sell the Accused Domains to Plaintiff in exchange for a payment of tens of thousands of dollars, for each domain name….

The author of the article, Eugene Volokh points out that if this turns out to be true, then conduct likely would indeed be actionable, especially under 15 U.S.C. § 8131



(1) In general

(A) Civil liability

Any person who registers a domain name that consists of the name of another living person, or a name substantially and confusingly similar thereto, without that person’s consent, with the specific intent to profit from such name by selling the domain name for financial gain to that person or any third party, shall be liable in a civil action by such person.


(B) Exception

A person who in good faith registers a domain name consisting of the name of another living person, or a name substantially and confusingly similar thereto, shall not be liable under this paragraph if such name is used in, affiliated with, or related to a work of authorship protected under title 17, including a work made for hire as defined in section 101 of title 17, and if the person registering the domain name is the copyright owner or licensee of the work, the person intends to sell the domain name in conjunction with the lawful exploitation of the work, and such registration is not prohibited by a contract between the registrant and the named person. The exception under this subparagraph shall apply only to a civil action brought under paragraph (1) and shall in no manner limit the protections afforded under the Trademark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1051 et seq.) or other provision of Federal or State law.


(2) Remedies

In any civil action brought under paragraph (1), a court may award injunctive relief, including the forfeiture or cancellation of the domain name or the transfer of the domain name to the plaintiff. The court may also, in its discretion, award costs and attorneys fees to the prevailing party.

(3) Definition

In this section, the term “domain name” has the meaning given that term in section 45 of the Trademark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1127).

(4) Effective date

This section shall apply to domain names registered on or after November 29, 1999.
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