Trump seeks damages in ‘cybersquatting’ case
By Laura Ly, CNN
NEW YORK (CNN) — Donald Trump is seeking $400,000 in damages from a Brooklyn man over four websites that use the real estate mogul’s name and brand.
Attorneys representing Trump filed a countersuit against J. Taikwok Yung, 33, at the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn on Thursday, seeking damages for “federal cybersquatting.”
That’s defined by the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act as “the registration as domain names of well-known trademarks by nontrademark holders who then try to sell the names back to the trademark owners.”
Trump “has spent his career establishing his famous name and brand and is not going to sit by idly and allow a pathetic squatter like Mr. Yung to infringe on his well-established rights.” Alexis Robinson, intellectual property counsel for the Trump Organization, wrote in an e-mail to CNN.
Yung, a self-described “domainer,” acquired four Trump-related domain names, including trumpmumbai.com and trumpindia.com, in 2007, the year the Trump organization announced plans to build Trump-branded hotels and condominiums in Mumbai and Bangalore, India.
In 2011, Yung filed a complaint seeking to keep the domain names, citing fair use and First Amendment rights, after actions filed by the Trump Organization demanded he hand the websites over to Trump.
Yung used the websites to provide commentary, often disparaging, about Trump and his television shows “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice.” A disclaimer appeared on the main page of the websites stating that the material posted had not been approved by the Trump Organization.
All four websites were taken down Saturday.
Yung describes himself as a former U.S. Marine and said he hoped to educate and interest other Marines about “the opportunities available on the Internet” and to inform them “against corporate evils that attempt to harvest their sacrifices and financial security in the name of corporate, Wall Street, and real estate profit,” the 2011 complaint said.
Yung maintained that he never contacted the Trump Organization about selling the domain names for profit, he wrote in the complaint.
He also wrote specifically about Trump, criticizing Trump and his legal undertakings.
“Donald Trump is known worldwide to butcher the legal system with frivolous complaints as a vehicle to harass people,” Yung wrote in the complaint.
Yung has been representing himself. He did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
“Yung is as brazen and unrepentant a cybersquatter as one might find,” wrote Trump’s attorneys in a memorandum filed with the court Thursday.
“By his own admission, Yung seeks to acquire ‘interesting and high-value domain names and park them initially with domain parking service providers and/or build the website, if feasible, with interesting content,’” the memorandum stated.
The countersuit filed Thursday seeks the maximum damages allowable — $100,000 for each of the four Trump-related domain names.
Yung also holds nearly 200 other domain names, including barclayscapitallehman.com, goldmansachsgroup.com, milanvogue.com and hulufriend.com.
In 2009, Yung acquired the domains bofaml.com and mlbofa.com on the same day that Bank of America Corp. and Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. announced their merger, resulting in similar legal action.
CNN’s Cameron Tankersley and Forrest Brown contributed to this report.