Pinterest Goes After Cybersquatter Imposter For Trademark Infringement

By Joseph Mandour on September 7, 2012

Pinterest-thumb-175x44-206393 Los Angeles — Pinterest Inc. filed a trademark infringement action in California federal court last week against a Chinese national it accuses of buying up domain names and attempting to register trademarks that are confusingly similar to the social network’s name.

Pinterest’s complaint, filed August 31, asserts claims against Qian Jin for cyberpiracy, trademark infringement and dilution, false designation of origin and unfair competition.

Pinterest is a social network that lets users gather images and other content and curate that content into themed collections it calls “pinboards.” Founded just over two years ago, the network has millions of active users and has become a major force in social media.

Jin has sought to trade on Pinterest’s fame by registering a large number of domain names that are nearly identical to Pinterest.com, and filing a trademark application for the word Pinterests base on his use of the pinterests.com domain for advertising.

Pinterest, which has used its name and mark since March 2010, gained widespread fame before Jin registered and began to use the infringing domains, the company says.

Jin selected the infringing domains specifically because of their similarity to the famous Pinterest mark and pinterest.com, Pinterest alleges.

He also applied in March to register Pinterest and Pinterests as trademarks in the U.S. with full knowledge of the company, its services and its brands. Jin attempted to claim trademark protection for the terms as they relate to hotels, restaurants and similar services, based on his use of pinterests.com as a trademark since March 2011.

Jin has also applied to register Pinterest as a trademark in China, along with the marks Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram, the company alleges.

“Pinterest is not the only target of defendant’s infringement,” the complaint says. “Defendant has engaged in a similar pattern of infringing behavior against other famous web services and is well aware that his actions are in bad faith and violate others’ trademark rights.”

Jin’s infringement is widespread, including domains that appear to infringe on the marks of popular companies across the globe, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Etsy, Foursquare, Hotmail, Hulu, Spotify, Scribd and Zynga, according to Pinterest.

“In short, defendant is a serial cybersquatter who has registered and owns hundreds of infringing domain names,” the complaint says.

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