February 15, 2002
Hollywood, Florida - – RealMetros.com, Inc. (RealMetros), the quarter-million page contextual commerce Internet site with headquarters in Hollywood, Florida, filed two separate lawsuits December 21, 2001 and February 11, 2002, both in the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida.
The first suit is against e-Business Holdings, LLC, and certain named individuals. The second suit is against the registrant of a travel web site. Both suits allege theft of and profiting from the theft of intellectual property and unfair competition. RealMetros, which was incorporated in 1996, and which publishes international hotel and related travel information on its family of websites, calls for the theft to cease, and for return of ill-gotten gains.
"From opportunistic cyber-squatters to outright cut-and-paste theft of copyrighted website content, violation of intellectual property rights on the Internet has grown blatant and rampant," said Mark Metz, RealMetros founder and president, and survivor of the dot-com frenzy. As demonstrated in the recent Napster matter, stealing digital content is easy, creating a distinct challenge for online companies.
"It is now a matter of corporate policy: RealMetros will vigorously pursue copyright violators until it is clearly understood that theft of digital content and intellectual property will not be tolerated," said Metz. "Nor will we tolerate or work with suppliers who encourage or knowingly enable such theft.
"We have thrown down the gauntlet to those who would steal with impunity."
Metz expects other victimized on-line companies to join in the movement to protect their significant investment of time, talent and financial resources. "Website owners, beware, you are vulnerable to thieves," Metz said. "Website thieves and copyright infringers, beware, your theft will not go unpunished."
Evolving over seven years, the RealMetros family of sites have a look and feel that is both distinct and constant. The richness of content and commercial offerings have expanded, but the basic look and feel are undisturbed. Millions of Internet users have visited the websites and associate its look, feel and functionality with RealMetros' branded HotelGuide Network. The RealMetros famous "bed" logo has been viewed by tens of millions and enables web surfers to easily recognize the HotelGuide Network pages.
The first copyright infringement law suit alleges that following their discharge from the company, certain individuals obtained travel related domain names and thereafter infringed "the necessary website configuration, look and feel, and content from the (RealMetros) Websites." RealMetros alleges that by stealing from it, the defendants were able to provide "high quality content for their sites, thereby readying them for commercial traffic, allowing the immediate generation of many web pages focusing on a specific location or hotel, and enhancing the websites' likelihood of being picked up or included in popular search engine directories."
The second action, also premised on the unlawful use of RealMetros' content, alleges a similar motivation and, further, that "(e)ven a casual review of the Defendant's website reveals that it is a near exact replica of the Websites. In most every respect it copies verbatim the text of the Websites as well as the function, format and design of the (RealMetros) Websites."
"We've worked very, very hard to create a branded family of websites that people trust, that are easy to use, that provide real benefits to our customers in terms of convenience and value," said Metz. "This does not happen overnight, and it does not happen without an incredible investment of time, talent, and dedication.
"We are not alone," Metz continued. "Everyone who creates a website from scratch goes through a similar process. Any among us can have our work stolen and used against us by unscrupulous operators. Many already have. Web content theft costs all of us our livelihood. This is unacceptable, and it will stop."
"These are only the first," said Scott Rogers, Esq., RealMetros vice president, previously a commercial litigation attorney with premier law firm White & Case LLP. Referring to these lawsuits and decisive implementation of RealMetros' zero-tolerance policy, Rogers continued, "We have established a legal process that, in less egregious cases will offer violators an honorable out. We will give them an opportunity to do the right thing. Failing their immediate compliance, we will bring the full weight of the law to bear."
RealMetros.com, Inc., which has two attorneys on staff, also has retained top-notch law firms Holland & Knight LLP in Miami, and Hall Dickler Kent Goldstein & Wood, LLP in New York City.
For information on RealMetros.com, Inc., its policy of zero-tolerance for intellectual property theft, or RealMetros.com, Inc. v. e-Business Holdings, et. al., Case No. 01-7918, or RealMetros.com, Inc. v. Taylor, Case No. 02-60215, contact Scott Rogers, Esq., (954) 981-5850.