Loblaw sues Toronto woman for control of Web site name

Loblaw has already tried, and failed, to gain control of the three names, through the arbitration process set up by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

The Globe and Mail
May 4, 2001

Loblaw sues Toronto woman for control of Web site name
Patrick Brethour

Supermarket giant Loblaw Cos. Ltd. is suing a Toronto woman in U.S. federal court for control of three Web site names after losing an earlier fight under the arbitration system of the Internet.

The case could prove to be a key indication of how much weight courts will place on the decisions from the Internet arbitration process, which was set up 16 months ago as a quick and cheap way to settle disputes over Web site names.

Loblaw filed suit against Guita Azimi, who holds the rights to the Web addresses Presidentchoice.com, Presidentchoice.net and Presidentchoice.org.

The statement of claim, filed in September, alleges that the three domain names are “confusingly similar” to its President’s Choice brand of goods and services.

The Toronto-based supermarket chain is seeking at least $75,000 (U.S.) in damages, and is asking that the court give it the three domain names.

The suit was registered in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. Ms. Azimi, who lives in Toronto, has a business address in Walnut Creek, Calif., for an on-line embroidery and Web site design service that uses the names that are the focus of the lawsuit.

Ms. Azimi was not available for comment, but her husband, Mohsen, said they intend to fight Loblaw. “We are planning to go all the way, get a court order and put them in place.”

Harry Kopyto, who said he is the legal consultant for the Azinis, said he has submitted a request to depose Galen Weston, Loblaw’s chairman. A Loblaw spokesman said the company has no comment.

Loblaw has already tried, and failed, to gain control of the three names, through the arbitration process set up by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

But its case was rejected in June, 2000, when an arbitrator decided in favour of Ms. Azimi. The arbitrator criticized Loblaw for its “failure to conduct a cursory investigation” of whether Ms. Azimi had legitimate interests in the domain names.

The U.S. suit is not, technically, an appeal of the arbitration decision, although a judgment in favour of Loblaw would effectively override Ms. Azimi’s earlier victory.

Michael Geist, a professor of e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, said the Loblaw suit could become an early indication of how much attention courts will pay to the decisions of Internet arbitration. “If decided quickly, this will be a trend-setting question.”

He said such decisions will never dictate court rulings, although they could aid in formulating them.

Loblaw has registered 13 domain names, including Presidentschoice.ca.


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