A lawyer who advocates for animal rights said someone has hijacked her name for a website that diverts clients from her business.
Susan Chana Lask, who practices in Manhattan and maintains an office in New Rochelle, sued NameCheap Inc., an internet domain registrar, and John Doe, “whose identity is presently unknown,” for $2 million on Jan. 25 in federal court in White Plains.
Doe is extorting her, she said, by placing her name “up for auction to the highest bidder on the internet.”
Lask said she is well known for litigating high-profile cases and for commenting on legal issues for newspapers, broadcasters, cable news programs and on her appellate-brief.com website.
For many years, according to her complaint, she has provided free legal services to organizations that oppose puppy mills. Last year, she established the Susan Chana Lask Freedom Foundation to educate the public about the commercial dog breeding industry.
But last month, when she tried to register SusanChanaLask.com to showcase her legal and charitable work, she discovered that Doe had paid $20 to NameCheap late last year to register a website in her name.
She is the only person in the world who is recognized by that name, according to her complaint, and Doe used her name without her consent.
The registered website deceived and confused consumers and tarnished her reputation, she said. It included advertisements that could jeopardize her legal license by violating rules of professional conduct.
“All of that is contrary to plaintiff’s business, morals and standing as a licensed attorney engaged in legal services, not profiting from cheap websites.”
She claims that NameCheap is concealing Doe’s identity. NameCheap also reveals little about itself on the Whois Lookup tool for website domains. Thirty categories of information, including its administrator, contact information and location are “redacted for privacy.”
Lask says NameCheap failed to respond to a cease and desist message.
She accuses Doe of trademark infringement, cybersquatting, unfair competition and stealing her name.
Judge Kenneth M. Karas issued a temporary restraining order on Jan. 28, ordering Doe and NameCheap to stop using the domain name, transfer it to Lask, freeze all bank accounts associated with the domain, disclose Doe’s identity and provide copies of all documents and communications associated with the domain name.