January 7, 2000 11:25 AM PST

Teen Magazine clashes with porn site

When Audrey Fine started her new job two weeks ago as online editor for Teen Magazine, she quickly called her friend with the good news.

Thrilled, the friend jumped online and went to Teenmagazine.com. Instead of landing on a site featuring news about teen life, however, she found smut.

"You work for a porn site?" the friend asked, somewhat bewildered.

That is how publishers of the 42-year-old youth publication discovered that someone else had been using the Teen Magazine name in an Internet address for hard-core pornography.

Late yesterday afternoon, attorneys for the magazine won a temporary restraining order against Blue Gravity Communications of Pittsgrove, N.J., barring them from operating the lewd Teenmagazine.com site.

The lawsuit claims that Blue Gravity used the trademarked name in "bad faith" under the Anti-Cybersquatting Act, which was recently put into effect.

"We just want them to stop," said Lynn Lehmkuhl, president of the youth group of Emap USA, the publishing company that operates Teen Magazine.

Blue Gravity representatives could not immediately be reached for comment today. They also were not present for the court hearing yesterday, said the magazine's attorney, David Jacobs of New Jersey.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in damages plus a permanent court order forbidding Blue Gravity from using the domain name.

Teen Magazine has its own Web site under the address Teenmag.com. Shortly after the new online editor alerted her bosses about the domain name trouble, teenagers began flooding the magazine with emails expressing shock over accidentally running into the porn site, company executives said.

"We try really hard to provide wholesome information for teenagers, and then this happens," Lehmkuhl said. "What a holiday surprise that turned out to be."

Teen Magazine is one of several organizations that has taken advantage of the cybersquatting law since it went into effect in late November.

The law is designed to protect businesses from those who register company trademarks as Internet addresses in bad faith and later try to sell them for profit.

But so far, the law has not been tested in court.

One of the first such cases, brought by an adventure sports Web site called Quokka.com, ended in a settlement among the parties Dec. 22.

A day earlier, a coalition of national sports league members sued a Canadian Web operator, accusing him of unlawfully hawking email addresses with the names of professional sports teams.

Several other cases have sprung up and are awaiting court hearings.

 

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