23 April 2020

Prudential sues over ‘cybersquatted’ domain

US insurance company  Prudential has sued a Chinese national in a New Jersey federal court for cybersquatting its trademarks.

In the complaint, filed at the US District Court for the District of New Jersey yesterday, April 22, Prudential accused Frank Zhang, based in Hunan province, of operating pru.com, in violation of the company’s trademark rights.

Prudential registered ‘Pru’ as a US trademark, covering financial services, in 2002. The company also owns other trademarks covering derivatives such as ‘PruLife’ and ‘PruMatic’.

“These registrations are conclusive evidence of Prudential’s exclusive right to use these marks,” the complaint stated.

According to Prudential, Zhang acquired the pru.com domain in November 2017. The domain is currently parked by web hosting service GoDaddy, meaning it isn’t in active use.

The parked webpage has a list of ‘related links’ purporting to link to Prudential Life Insurance, Pru Life Insurance, and other brands like Vitality Life Insurance.

“These pay-per-click advertisements redirect visitors to third-party websites, including links that redirect to Prudential’s competitors,” the complaint said.

Last month, Zhang rejected a five-figure offer to purchase the website, placed through GoDaddy by an investigator acting on behalf of Prudential.

This was despite the fact that the webpage lists Pru.com as being for sale.

Prudential has also filed a separate complaint at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

WIPO is a licensed arbitrator of the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) mechanism for resolving domain name disputes.

Prudential has asked the New Jersey court for an injunction barring Zhang from using the Pru trademarks, as well as a transfer of the Pru.com domain.

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