Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company, which operates a company called Empower Retirement, filed a cybersquatting lawsuit against another company called Empower Geographics over its ownership and use of the descriptive and valuable Empower.com domain name. The ACPA lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Eastern Division).
Last Friday, the defendants in the lawsuit filed a Motion to Dismiss, as shared by IP and domain name industry attorney John Berryhill on Twitter:
— John Berryhill (@Berryhillj) September 10, 2021
As an owner of many one word .com domain names similar in nature to Empower.com, I am probably biased when it comes to this particular case. In looking through the Motion to Dismiss filing, it would seem that the defendants have an exceptionally strong case. At its core, the defendants believe the plaintiffs “initiated this Action as a cynical tactic in an obvious attempt to drive down the price of an asset it covets.”
According to the filing and backed by Whois records, Empower Geographics has owned the Empower.com domain name long before the Empower Retirement brand was created. The defendants have owned Empower.com since 2002 and the Empower Retirement brand was created more than 10 years after this. The plaintiff in this litigation tried and failed to acquire the domain name from the defendant prior to litigating.
From what I gather, it would appear that this cybersquatting lawsuit was filed as an alternative means to acquire the domain name asset when a purchase negotiation failed. The defendants cited several reasons for why the lawsuit should be dismissed.
The defendants in this ACPA lawsuit are represented by attorney David P. Berten from Global IP Law Group and attorney John Berryhill.