Phoenix New Times Files Suit Against Former Employee, Wants URLs

Who doesn’t want to get back at a former employer, especially if you left in an acrimonious way? But creating a lawsuit where they ask for $200,000 in payback doesn’t sound like the best way to go about it.

Now it’s unclear if that’s what happened here, but in a federal lawsuit filed by Phoenix New Times and its parent company Village Voice Media Holdings, the alternative weekly has accused a former employee of cybersquatting. The suit claims Ty Liebig, who worked for the paper for three months in 2008, purchased URLs relating to the paper’s yearly special “Best of Phoenix.”
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The suit claims Liebig purchased bestofphoenix2011.com and bestofphoenix2012.com while working for the publication because he likely knew how much the special is worth to the company. This just so happened to be the URLs that the New Times uses on a year-by-year basis for its hot list. When the paper went to purchase the next decade of URLs, it found that Liebig owned the 2011 and 2012 version.

Phoenix New Times claims it has the right to those URLs because it has owned the “Best of Phoenix” trademark since 1997. According to the lawsuit, Liebig just wants money for the URLs and has no plans to use them. “I am open to and willing to sell those domains,” wrote Liebig in an email to corporate executive administrator Elissa Blabac, according to the suit. “I still have not received an offer or what you said you considered ‘fair value.'”

The paper believes the URLs hold zero value to anyone but them, and Liebig should hand them over. And to encourage him to do so, the company has filed suit asking for the two URLs and $200,000. Ouch, Liebig’s plans might have just backfired.

Now I’m no lawyer, but Liebig seems like he bit off more than he can chew here. Maybe ask for $20 and move on? Liebig did not comment to Heat City, which first reported the lawsuit, other than to say he had not received legal notice of the claim.