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Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Thu Dec 28, 2000 10:22 am


NEW YORK - Alitalia, Italy's flagship air carrier, has filed a cybersquatting lawsuit against a disgruntled passenger who registered an Internet domain name of '' after his luggage was lost.

The suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, alleges that the passenger, Mr William Porta, infringed the trademark of Alitalia by registering the name on Oct 26 and posting a letter about how the airline treated him after it lost his luggage on Oct 13.

Alitalia sent Mr Porta a cheque for US$840 (S$1,455) and two travel tickets on Dec 19 to settle his claim, the lawsuit said.

But he told the airline that unless it paid him unspecified 'satisfactory compensation', he would register the website with 350 Internet search engines by today, the lawsuit said.

'By registering the domain name www. with Internet search engines, defendant Porta has or will divert consumers seeking information regarding Alitalia's airline services to his webpage, and will tarnish, disparage, harm and dilute the goodwill, image and reputation of Alitalia,' it said.

The lawsuit said that by seeking to relinquish the name in bad faith, Mr Porta violated the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. It asks a judge to prevent Mr Porta from continuing to use the website.

A letter sent by Mr Porta to Alitalia said the airline lost his luggage as he flew from New York to India to serve as the best man in a formal wedding. Mr Porta, who lives in Earlville, New York, said he had to scramble to buy clothes for the four-day, black-tie affair after the airline failed to reimburse him while in India.

'Not only was my trip ruined, but also my best friend, his family, his wife and his wife's family were put in the awkward...position of trying to find appropriate formal wear for me for each of the four days of their special event,' said the letter, which the airline attached to the lawsuit. --Bloomberg News

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RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Thu Dec 28, 2000 10:31 am

This guy should have read the fine print on his ticket about the maximum compensation for lost luggage.
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RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Thu Dec 28, 2000 10:43 am

He should've flown by either KLM, Air France, Air India, Lufthansa, Swissair or my favorite and cheapest with great serice Kuwait Airways. There have been many Indian relatives that I've had that come from DEL and BOM to JFK on Alitalia that have experinced similar problems with Alitalia but were reimbursed but the proccess was fustrating, slow and the employees at JFK were quite rude. This was enough for then to go back to the previous airlines that I've listed above since the lost luggage claims they had with those airlines were settled quickly and a check was handed to them. Kuwait Airways was my fav when they lost my luggage and they had employees to keep an eye out for it and unfortionatly it wasn't found but they did give me a check that covered the losses including a $300 suit that I was planning to wear at an Indian wedding in Delhi in a few days after my flight.
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RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Thu Dec 28, 2000 11:37 am

They will not win.

It is considered a parody site. just like then Untied site.
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RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Fri Dec 29, 2000 5:27 am

Yeah, L-188 is right. Alitalia will not win. Remember and CBS didn't even bother pusuing a law suit against these sites because they knew they wouldn't win.
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RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Fri Dec 29, 2000 6:24 am

While my legal knowledge is virtually non-existent, I think Alitalia has a greater claim than the other previously mentioned examples. United's parody site, untied is not a copyrighted word. Big Brother and Survivor are also non-copyrighted words as they can be used in everyday language and in other meanings. Alitalia is unique corporate name. Alitalia can't be used in everyday language unless referring to the airline itself. JetBlue could sue for while I would think that American could not sue for

My wife can't wrestle, but you should see her box.
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RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Fri Dec 29, 2000 6:50 am

I better change the name of my Airbus site I guess.
I can drive faster than you
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RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Fri Dec 29, 2000 7:43 am

What's wrong with his website?!
It mearly contains a mature, non-offensive letter to Alitalia (or will I be taken to court for writing that?).

RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Fri Dec 29, 2000 8:40 am

Alitalia needs to remove the hair from its butt, fix this guy's problem, and take a close look at their customer service practices. They have no, repeat, *no* legal ground to stand on. Here are some examples of sites using a trademarked name to make a point: (now part of a larger domain, (under construction) (also under construction)

Case in point, Alitalia can stuff it. They can't win here- the best they can do is force this guy not to submit it to search engines.

They have one alternative, however...fix this guy's problem!

RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Fri Dec 29, 2000 8:41 am

This man acted in a manner which is lawful and which makes sense.
Indeed it may have been a drastic action to make a web site about an airline losing his luggage, but it was an effective one.

On the subjets of Alitalias case, There are certain free speach and freedom of press laws which will enable this man to be free of any incrimination (of course this depends on the judge , jury atc).

I am sure that this man will get compensation if not his luggage, and i believe that if we all just sit there and take bad service from airlines, they will never improve.

Good luck to him!
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RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Fri Dec 29, 2000 9:32 am

Beautiful web site, I would say.
Anyway I think that I would have chosen a slightly different trailer to the name, one with a slightly more "mature" sound. "Alitaliafailure" or such. But that's a minor detail.
Since Alitalia is sueing him for the name, and not for the text, then the text must be assumed to be fairly correct.
When that's the case, then it is ordinary consumer information.
Best regards, Preben Norholm
Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs
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RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Fri Dec 29, 2000 9:33 am

As far as copyright infringement is concerned, I do not believe Alitalia has a case. The name Alitaliasucks refers to Alitalia the actual airline. It has not been used to identify another company. If he registers a name, Alitalia Plumbing, then perhaps there is a case for infrigement. But this man is refering to the airline in question when he named his website. Ironically, that is why the airline is upset. It is they to whom that name refers, not another company. They wished it wasn't so.

Alitalia seems to be confusing libel with copyright infringement and with cybersquatting. All different concepts. Alitaliasucks is not a name of an airline. So cybersquatting should not apply. Nor should that amount to copyright infringement for the same reason. Only libel applies in this case. But as long as the man does not publish defaming assertions he knows to be untrue, then there isn't even a libel case. In my humble opinion.

An optimist robs himself of the joy of being pleasantly surprised
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RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Fri Dec 29, 2000 11:18 am

Everyone's on the right track here, but I thought it would be helpful to look at the language of the Anticybersquatiting Consumer Protection Act, which amended the Federal Trademark Dilution Act.

Alitalia probably doesn't have a strong case.

There's only one relevant appellate decision so far that interprets the ACPA, which was just recently enacted and applies to cybersquatting cases that arise after its enactment. See Sporty's Farm L.L.C. v. Sportsman's Market, Inc., 202 F.3d 489 (2nd Cir. 2000). Because Alitalia filed its action in a federal district court that's part of the 2nd Circuit, this decision controls.

The court looks at three elements: (1) whether the plaintiff's mark is famous or distinctive; (2) whether the domain name is identical and confusingly similar to the plaintiff's mark; and (3) whether the defendant had a bad faith intent to profit from the plaintiff's mark when he registered the domain name.

Alitalia has to prove all three elements to prevail.

1) Pretty clear cut that plaintiff's mark, Alitalia, is famous and distinctive.

2) Alitalia will face the most trouble establishing that the domain name is identical and confusingly similar to its mark, Alitalia. In the Sporty's Farm case, the court determined that the defendant's use of was confusingly similar to the plaintiff's trademark "Sporty's", even though the domain name didn't have an apostrophe. The court also used as example another case where "Wello" was found to be confusingly similar to the trademark "Wella".

3) If Alitalia shows that is confusingly similar to its trademark "Alitalia", it may have a pretty good chance of also showing that the defendant had a bad faith intent to profit from the "Alitalia" mark. Some of the factors which go against the defendant here are (language redacted from the actual statute):
- he didn't have a trademark or other intellectual property rights in the domain name
- the domain name does not include the defendant's legal name (i.e, his first or last name wasn't Alitalia or Alitaliasucks)
- he didn't appear to have any prior use of the domain name in connection with the bona fide offering of goods or services
- he intended to divert consumers from the mark owner's online location, which would harm the goodwill represented by the mark, either for commercial gain OR WITH THE INTENT TO TARNISH OR DISPARAGE THE MARK by creating a likelihood of confusion as to the source, sponsorship or affiliation of the site.

There are other factors that go into #3, but I haven't read Alitalia's complaint so I don't know if they apply.

Hope this helps.
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RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Fri Dec 29, 2000 12:28 pm

The guy had every legal right to state his opinion and problem with Alitalia.
If u ever feel depressed about urself, just remember that at one time you were the most vicious sperm in ur group.

RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Fri Dec 29, 2000 1:35 pm

I was aboard a British Airways flight back home to KDFW as I left from LLBG (Ben Gurion Apt., ISRAEL). As I arrived into KDFW on October 6, 1996, left ISRAEL October 5, 96 to London Gatwick, overnight stay. things were missing from my boxes taped at LLBG just hour before leaving for Gatwick EGKK, and had reported it to BA desk at KDFW Int'l. arrival, and claimed few items missing. for this cause, Anyway I can not harm the airline , because I LOVES THEM, and I will fly for BA every time, I will WORK for BA if I want to.... nice people. No Matter What happened. LLBG apt security tooks hours for security search of my baggages at custom control before departure for GATWICK., then next day to KDFW.

Nothing expensive was lost... just missing....  

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RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Fri Dec 29, 2000 1:41 pm

I wish _____________ (fill in you favourite airline) would be so kind as to reimburse me $840 and give me a pair of tickets after they investigated to make sure I wasn't making a fraudulent claim.
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RE: Passenger Sued For 'Alitaliasucks' Website

Sat Dec 30, 2000 3:53 am

Why didn't Alitalia claimed themselves? I've been told that many companies have already claimed a domain name with www.(company name) or similar.

Laurens Janssen

BTW is at this moment under construction (who's the owner?)

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