VISA Black Card Pursues Cybersquatter in Federal Court.

CHEYENNE, May 8, 2009 -- A Wyoming-based credit card company claims to the victim of trademark infringement by an individual imitating its VISA Black Card.

Blackcard, LLC offers a VISA card to an elite clientele, claiming that only 1% of U.S. residents qualify for their services. The card itself in black in appearance and is made of carbon instead of standard plastic.

Blackcard, LLC filed an intent to use application to federal register the mark BLACKCARD with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) on September 20, 2005. An intent to use application is filed when a party intends to put a trademark into use in the future.

Marketing for the Black Visa is said to have begun in June, 2007 with an internet domain being published at www.blackcard.com on June 21, 2005. Blackcard, LLC claims in its complaint to have executed a Co-Branding Agreement with Visa U.S.A. to jointly market the card on November 20, 2008. Since entering this agreement Blackcard, LLC has advertised on tv and in such publications as: the Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, GQ, Vogue, Golf Digest, Esquire, Forbes, Car & Driver, etc.

According to the records of the USPTO, Blackcard, LLC filed a sworn statement that BLACKCARD was put into use in interstate commerce on February 5, 2009.

Typically, the first party to use a trademark has the superior claim of ownership and can prevent subsequent parties from using a confusingly similar mark. One benefit of an intent to use trademark registration is the date of filing the application is used as the date of first use instead of the actual date of use.

The defendant Jeffrey Dupres is accused of registering the domain www.visablack.com on May 24, 2008. According to the complaint, Dupres' web site uses the metatags "visa black," "visablack," "visa black card," and "visablackcard" to encourage search engines to direct users to his site.

The www.visablack.com web site, as pled, contains no content other than a statement that the domain is available for purchase. When representatives of Blackcard, LLC sent an email to the defendant about the site, Dupres is alleged to have responded by stating he had already rejected an $90,000 offer from a third party. "Reason being, I know 90K is nothing to a gigantic bank dealing with Visa."

Cybersquatting has been defined as registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. It is prohibited by the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

Dupres is also accused of registering the domains: www.bankofamericaplatinummastercard.com, www.bankofamericaplatinumvisacard.com, www.mastercardblack.com, www.mastercardplatinumcard.com, www.nikestyling.com, www.pumastyling, and www.panasonicsolar.com.

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming contains counts for trademark infringement, cybersquatting, and unfair competition.

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