German American Law Journal :: Articles Edition
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Originally published: Fri, Sep 15, 2000

By Clemens Kochinke*

A new ruling we will probably hear much about in the next few days has a young German going to jail, almost, for holding a few domains too many and for holding companies' feet to the fire.

Yesterday, the Munich District Court sentenced the young man to a jail term of 1 year and 10 months, suspended for ten years.

He held DENIC-registered domain names for some 120 domains of which some reflected business names or trademarks of major businesses. An initial report notes that he offered to sell domains to the companies for the shocking sum of up to DM15,000 -- the relatively paltry amount of $7,000.

While this looks like another excessive example of applying trademark law to the internet system, the harshness of the sentence seems slightly more acceptable in light of the fact that the court took into account the young man's fraudulent use of credit card information. A final analysis of this ruling will depend on a review of the court's detailed factual and legal determinations. Perhaps there is more hype than substance to the initial reports. (See also

* Der Verfasser ist Partner in der Kanzlei Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe LLP, Washington D.C.

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