Fla. college settles trademark infringement lawsuit against Web site

FLORIDA — Parties in a lawsuit that pitted a student Web site against a for-profit college have settled on confidential but “mutually agreeable terms,” an attorney for the site’s student creator said.

Ryan Spevack, a student at a technical school in Tempe, Ariz., operated the now-defunct Web site fullsailsucks.com. The site featured criticism of Full Sail, Inc., a technical college in Winter Park, Fla. The site was launched during the summer of 2003, after Spevack received complaints about the school from friends who attended.

Full Sail, Inc. administrators sued him for violating their trademark rights to the name Full Sail.

After a federal court dismissed the suit, the college enlisted the mediation services of the World Intellectual Property Organization, a domain-name dispute arbitration group. The organization ruled in favor of Spevack in June 2003.

School officials and Spevack decided to settle the case rather than continuing to appeal, and Spevack’s attorney Stephen Sturgeon said both parties are happy. Speaking in general terms, he added that similar cases often end in settlements in which “the little guy has the right to free speech.”

Representatives from Full Sail, Inc. did not return calls seeking comment.

Spevack said he was confident that, had he pursued the matter in court, he would have won.

“I was happy [about the settlement],” he said, adding that Full Sail, Inc. now owns the site he created. “I proved my point.”

For now, the student at the University of Advancing Technology said he would stick to what he does best: producing short films, not Web sites.

“I don’t think I’ll be doing another one,” he said about his foray into the World Wide Web. “I’m done.”

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