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Question: do you have any information about the website the location of the company and/or servers? Do you know the state they might be in or even if they are in the US?
Domains By Proxy is a company that a domain owner can register with and it serves as a middle party that forwards any notices to the domain owner without revealing who it is.
a quick look at apestan.com shows that most complaints are related to Mexican companies
here's what you can do:
1) if you believe that they used your intellectual property without your permission (e.g. copied a portion of your website for example) then you can send them a DMCA take down notice (you would send it to Domains By Proxy) and they would have to comply. Through this notice you should also request that Domain By Proxy reveal to you who is the domain owner (although domain by proxy would have no legal obligation to do it at this stage but they might)
2) if you learn that the site is in the US you should 1) contact the state attorney general of that state and report the "shake down" they are trying to perpetrate against you and 2) you should consider filing a law suit against them for defamation, illegal business practices etc.
3) if you still cannot get their info that you would have to file a law suit against then obtain a subpoena from the court and serve it on Domains By Proxy to reveal the owner of the site. The most cost effective way to obtain a subpena is to file a law suit in small claims court. The process is very straight forward and you do not need an attorney but you will be limited in the amount of recovery in such a case. Otherwise you would have to file a a law suit in regular trial court.
4) Finally, in addition to self help as noted above consider retaining an attorney to write a demand letter. Though the demand letter itself does not have legal standing (other than serving as notice) many times it gets the needed attention. The attorney would send the demand letter to Domains By Proxy. The cost should be very manageable as it should not take too much attorney time to write such a letter.
Appologies. DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This statute has specific provisions that protect a copyright owner and allow such an owner to demand the take down of copyrighted materials that are posted on the site without permission. If the website owner does not comply with such a request then the website owner becomes liable to the copyright infringement (assuming one exists)
your follow up question is excellent. the .com domains are governed by ICANN which is an international body that governs internet domain names so a .com domain is not considered American per say and generally in order to attack the domain your options are limited only to trademark issues (for example of the domain infringed on your trademark rights). However, if the servers the site is using are in the US then you would be able to send a DMCA take down notice or any other court order to the company that is hosting the servers. Note that the operator can always relocate the servers outside the US.
Lawyer is not necessary for DMCA take down notice
ICANN and DMCA are not related. ICANN only governs the registration of the domain not the content of a website. DMCA only applies to website operators in the US or if the servers are in the US. For foreign operators one need to avail themselves of the laws in the specific country in question.
You can draft and serve a DMCA take down request by yourself.
As noted DMCA does not apply to defamation or trademarks only to copyright infringement -- for example if they copied a portion of your website without permission. For strictly defamation issues you would need to file a law suit and obtain a subpoena and/or an order.
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