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Legal Aid in the 21 st Century Protecting our clients and their rights online…

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Presentation on theme: "Legal Aid in the 21 st Century Protecting our clients and their rights online…"— Presentation transcript:

1 Legal Aid in the 21 st Century Protecting our clients and their rights online…

2 What is CyberPiracy? We use the term CyberPiracy to describe a range of techniques used to take advantage of our clients or our organizations by misusing our names, our domain names or our mission. Often they masquerade as us.

3 Why do these issues matter Low-income people increasingly turning to the Internet for information – can easily be taken advantage just as weve seen in other areas: Predatory lending Legal advice/promises from non-lawyers Clients who do not have access to information online are at a disadvantage. In finding jobs, housing, information

4 Defining CyberPiracy Thanks to Damian Reil who developed much of the content for the CyberPiracy PowerPoint. Additional information including extensive legal citations for trademark and cybersquatting law can be found in the original version of this presentation developed for the LSC TIG Conference, January 2007.





9 CyberPiracy TIG project

10 Pine Tree Legal Assistance (PTLA) in partnership with the Legal Services National Technology Assistance Project (NTAP), received $20,000 for 2007 from the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Funds a project that ensures the poverty law community adequately protects its entire client community from predatory websites posing as legal aid services

11 CyberPiracy TIG project Primary goal Protect low-income website consumers from fraud and confusion by predatory websites Second goal Ensure legal aid organizations statewide websites are protected from cyber-piracy

12 Types of CyberPiracy Domain-name Disputes (Cybersquatters) E.g., (Domain Grabbing) E.g., South Bronx Legal Services Deceptive Keywords E.g., Search engine results for legal aid include ads for-profit firms or matching services

13 To Learn More Stay current on issues in CyberPiracy as well as updates on the TIG project Visit the Cyber Piracy section of the LSNTAP website:

14 Impact on Legal Aid Programs/Clients Points to Ponder: What is the impact of CyberPiracy on legal aid clients or potential clients? Has your program experienced complaints from people misdirected to commercial sites? How do you think we as a community can measure the impact of these non-legal service websites?

15 Domain-Name Disputes (Cybersquatting)

16 Cybersquatting:


18 Domain Names In todays world, domain names are often the most important use of an organizations trademarks Malicious entities often have incentive to infringe on trademarks To directly mislead customers to their competing or related sites or To obtain click-through payments for their advertisements.

19 Domain Names: Remedies If you find that someone has a domain name that infringes on your mark, you have several remedies: Request voluntary transfer through direct contact with owner Bring UDRP action to transfer URL Bring ACPA case in Federal Court

20 Domain Names: UDRP If a direct request is not successful, you may wish to bring a Uniform Dispute Resolution Proceeding (UDRP). Most common remedy sought Streamlined system honed by thousands of cases over several years Effective through the ICANN registration system, providing for immediate transfer of infringing domain names

21 Transfer will be ordered if: (i) your domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant has rights; and (ii) you have no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and (iii) your domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.

22 Process and Importance of Trademark Registration

23 Domain Names: ACPA Alternatively, may file suit in Federal Court under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), When to file under ACPA? When to file under ACPA? When you seek remedies over and above cancellation or transfer of a domain name If you anticipate the cybersquatter will challenge the UDRP result in court anyway Drawbacks to ACPA filing: Drawbacks to ACPA filing: Much more expensive than UDRP proceeding Often takes much longer to complete

24 Search Engine Results

25 Trademarks also important in context of search engine sponsored links Companies purchase ads to accompany search- engine queries e.g., search for flower gets FTD ad These ads are referred to as keyword advertising or, in marketing circles, pay-per-click (PPC) For example, a for-profit entity may buy advertising space when someone enters the query legal aid or legal assistance

26 Search Engine Liability In 2004, just before its IPO, Google agreed to investigate trademark complaints as a courtesy and wouldrequire the advertiser to remove the trademarked term from the content of the ad.




30 Search Engine and Competitor Liability So are search engines and competitors liable for competitive keywords? The state of the law is a mess Cases are all over the map

31 Legal Match Lawsuit and Settlement

32 LegalMatch Shall Not Use the Disputed Marks. LegalMatch agrees that it shall not use any of the Pine Tree Marks. LegalMatch Shall Remove Legal Aid Organizations Marks. Any legal aid organization can request that their name be removed. LegalMatch Shall Not Use the Term legal aid in Advertising. * * * because legal aid is a term of art meaning aid provided by an organization established especially to serve the legal needs of the poor.

33 Search Engine Results

34 Prevalence of deceptive Keywords in Legal Aid: Research searching 75 legal aid program names in the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL) revealed over 1,000 instances of deceptive keyword use 5-10 common offenders Companies who repeatedly use legal aid program names as ad-words

35 Keywords and Search Engines Points to Ponder: What is the best approach to the keyword issue: Go after individual violators? Work with search engines on a possible solution? Pros and cons of both approaches.

36 Relevance to Legal Aid

37 How is this relevant to legal aid orgs? Its the money. Legal services is big business; many attorneys and organizations will gladly pay for click-through client referrals. Vulnerable clients. Legal aid serves those who may not be as Internet savvy, making them an easier target for such deception. Fight back? Advertisers who infringe on a Legal Aid mark may know that those organizations may have few resources to allot to vindicate their rights.

38 Relevance to Legal Aid How can Legal Aid orgs protect themselves? Register your trademark Auto-renew domain names Ensure domain-name registrar lists your name as both (1) Registrant and (2) Admin (3) Tech can stay third-party Purchase domain-name variations clients may likely use Domain names are as economical as $8/year

39 Relevance to Legal Aid How can Legal Aid orgs protect themselves? Query search engines to see if any entity is trading upon your organizations goodwill Enter different top-level domains for your URL E.g., vs. vs. vs. Do quick typosquatting searches to see if anyone has a domain name that intentionally misspells your name E.g., (no s in services) E.g., (misspells community)

40 Relevance to Legal Aid How can Legal Aid orgs protect themselves? If those preventative measures prove unsuccessful: Contact responsible party for possible amicable resolution If domain names are involved, bring UDRP action If UDRP unsuccessful, may choose to bring suit under ACPA

41 Practical Steps: Trademarks Federally register your trademark Possibly obtain volunteer IP attorney to do this for you Visit for more information about availability of pro bono attorneys

42 Practical Steps: Deceptive Keywords 1. Search for your own name 2. Follow up with Advertiser 3. If that fails, follow up with Search Engines themselves 4. Might be more sympathetic for Legal Aid organizations (PR sensitivity to misleading low-income persons)

43 Practical Steps: Deceptive Keywords Add this to your intake questionnaire Did you have trouble finding us? Did you look on the Internet? Were you misdirected? Ask community resources, which may have seen such misdirection Libraries Community Centers (e.g., womens shelters, homeless shelters, courts)

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