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April 20, 2014

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Planet Hollywood complaint prompts judge’s ‘lock’ of Web site

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Justin M. Bowen

The Planet Hollywood resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

A judge Tuesday ordered a company to stop operating a Web site that the Planet Hollywood hotel-casino in Las Vegas says is being used in a bait-and-switch scam diverting customers to competitors.

Planet Hollywood operator OpBiz LLC filed suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas against Unister GmbH, an entity that OpBiz believes is based in Leipzig, Germany.

Planet Hollywood complained in its lawsuit that the defendant in July registered a domain name that uses Planet Hollywood's trademarked name along with the word "resort."

The Las Vegas company claims the defendant then linked the domain name to a hotel reservation Web site offering links to services provided by Planet Hollywood competitors.

"The defendant's hotel travel and reservation Web site offers services, including vacation and flight packages, that are offered at plaintiff's casino resorts under the guise of 'Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino,'" the lawsuit complained. "However, this is a 'bait and switch,' meaning a potential hotel client is told no rooms are available at Planet Hollywood when a request is submitted, then a new page is presented to book at other hotels presumably where the defendant will receive revenue from a referral, in a pay-pre-click fashion."

The lawsuit asserts claims of cybersquatting, trademark infringement, unfair competition, deceptive trade practices and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.

U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson issued a temporary restraining order finding Planet Hollywood "will suffer irreparable injury" if he didn't order the domain name registrar, PSI-USA Inc., doing business as Domain Robot, to "lock" the allegedly infringing domain name and transfer it to Planet Hollywood pending the outcome of the litigation.

Dawson also found Planet Hollywood would be injured if the defendant was not blocked from using the domain name or trademarks confusingly similar to Planet Hollywood's name and trademarks.

The defendant couldn't immediately be located for comment on the allegations.

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