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Denso Corporation v. Domain Name

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division

September 19, 2014

DENSO CORPORATION, a Japanese Corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
Domain Name, Defendant.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR WAIVER OF SERVICE BY PUBLICATION, DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS, AND DENYING MOTION TO APPOINT COUNSEL [ECF Nos. 19, 22, 23]

LAUREL BEELER, Magistrate Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Denso Corporation filed this action under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act ("ACPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d), seeking to recover the domain name denso.com, from the current domain registrant, Densoft Consultancy Services Ltd. ("DCS"), which is located in the United Kingdom. See First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), ECF No. 26, ¶¶ 4, 29. There are a number of motions pending. First, Denso asks the court to waive the ACPA's service by publication requirement. See ECF No. 19. Second, the court received several e-mail messages with attached documents from a Yuri Yasmanov, who claims to be a director of DCS. See ECF Nos. 22-23. These include a motion to dismiss, ECF No. 22, and a motion to either (1) extend the case management deadlines to allow DCS to retain counsel or (2) appoint counsel for DCS, ECF No. 23. The court filed these documents for Mr. Yasmanov, which is the standard practice when the court receives substantive documents on an ex parte basis. For the reasons discussed below, the court DENIES Denso's motion to waive the ACPA's service by publication requirement, and DENIES Mr. Yasmanov's requests.

STATEMENT

I. BACKGROUND

Denso is a Japanese corporation with its principal place of business in Japan. FAC ¶ 1. It supplies advanced automotive technology, systems, and components for automakers, operates in 30 countries, and has about 130, 000 employees. Id. ¶ 2. Denso previously owned the denso.com domain name, which it used in association with its website, its business, and corresponding DENSO trademarks. Id. ¶ 3. Denso.com is registered in a domain name registry that is operated by Verisign, Inc. Id. Verisign's principal place of business is in San Francisco, California. Id.

On March 6, 2000, Denso mistakenly allowed its registration of the denso.com domain to lapse. See id. ¶¶ 15-18. One week later, a Russian company registered the domain. Id. ¶ 19. The registrant subsequently transferred the ownership several times in an attempt to make it difficult for Denso to contact the real registrant. Id. ¶ 20.

Since 2001, Denso has made several attempts to reacquire the domain. See id. ¶¶ 21-30. It located and contacted the registrant in 2001. Id. ¶¶ 21-23. In 2003, Denso filed an administrative action under ICANN's Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy to recover the domain. Id. ¶¶ 5, 24. On November 3, 2003, the World Intellectual Property Organization arbitration panel ordered the domain to be transferred to Denso. Id. ¶ 25. Despite the WIPO ruling, the registrant and registrar refused to transfer the domain to Denso. Id. ¶ 26.

The registrant then filed a claim with the Russian Arbitrazh Court of the City of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region disputing Denso's right to the domain. Id. ¶ 27. After numerous appeals, Denso prevailed in the Russian Supreme Court in a published decision dated November 11, 2008. Still, the domain's registrant and registrar refused to transfer the domain to Denso. Id.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Denso filed this action on March 6, 2014. See Complaint, ECF No. 1. The original complaint named denso.com as an in rem defendant and denso.com's then-unknown registrant as a Doe defendant. See id. ¶ 4. Denso explained that it could not identify the denso.com registrant "as they are registered via a WHOIS privacy' service located in Russia." Complaint, ECF No. 1, ¶ 4. The Complaint asserted claims for (1) cyberpiracy under the ACPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d)(1)(A), (2) conversion, (3) common law unfair competition, and (4) unfair competition under California Business and Professions Code § 17200. Id. ¶¶ 31-50.

On March 13, 2014, Denso moved for an order directing Verisign to place the denso.com domain on "registry lock status, " so that it could not be transferred, suspended, or otherwise modified during the pendency of this action without a court order. See Motion, ECF No. 7. The court granted Denso's motion on March 17, 2014. See Order, ECF No. 8.

On April 17, 2014, the court received a e-mail and letter allegedly from Alexey Gromov of Fiducia LLC, LATVIJAS PARSTAVNIECIBA, regarding this matter. See ECF No. 11. Mr. Gromov claims that Fiducia, which is located in Latvia, is the registrar of denso.com. Id. at 2. He states that Fiducia is seeking legal advice in connection with this matter and asks that "the court take no further action in this case and suspend a time-table for this case." Id.

On August 20, 2014, Denso filed a proof of service indicating that it mailed and e-mailed the Complaint and other pleadings in this case to the registrant, which was located in the United Kingdom. See Proof of Service, ECF No. 16. It also filed a Case Management Conference in which it explained that Denso's counsel had been contacted by an attorney named Steven Svoboda who had been retained by the "defendant." See CMC Statement, ECF No. 17 at 3. Mr. Svoboda said that he represented DCS, the company listed as the denso.com domain name registrant. Id. On August 18, 2014, Mr. Svoboda notified Denso's counsel that he no longer represented DCS in this ...


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