Kennedy v. Lee
ORDER (1) PARTIALLY GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN PLAINTIFF'S FAVOR ON COUNTS II AND VI, (2) DENYING SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON COUNT V, AND (3) GRANTING INJUNCTIVE RELIEF re 56 - Signed by JUDGE DERRICK K. WATSON on 5/10/2022. Consistent with the foregoing, summary judgment as to Counts II and VI is GRANTED IN PART. Summary judgment as to Count V is DENIED. The Court hereby ORDERS Lee (1) to immediately cease use of the domain names reneaukennedy.com and drreneaukennedy.com and transfer ownership of those domains to Kennedy; (2) to immediately cease use of and delete the following social media accounts: Instagram @reneaukennedy, Facebook @drreneaukennedy, and Twitter @drreneaukennedy; and (3) to immediately cease use of the marks Reneau Kennedy, Dr. Reneau Kennedy, and/or any confusingly similar name on the Internet. See Brookfield, 174 F.3d at 1047 (holding that the senior user of a domain name trademark has a right to enjoin junior users from using confusingly similar marks in the same market and reversing district court's denial of a preliminary injunction). The Court will not tolerate terrorism of court-appointed personnel for work performed in service of the court by parties who are not satisfied with judicial outcomes. Accordingly, further relief may be warranted, particularly if Lee's compliance with this Order is not immediately forthcoming. (eta)COURT'S CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE - Vee Lee shall be served by First Class Mail to the address of record listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) on May 10, 2022. Registered Participants of CM/ECF received the document electronically to the email addresses listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF).
Case 1:20-cv-00563-DKW-KJM Document 68 Filed 05/10/22 Page 1 of 15
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF HAWAII
RENEAU C. KENNEDY, Ed.D,
Case No. 20-cv-563-DKW-KJM
ORDER (1) PARTIALLY
JUDGMENT IN PLAINTIFF’S
FAVOR ON COUNTS II AND VI, (2)
DENYING SUMMARY JUDGMENT
ON COUNT V, AND (3) GRANTING
VEE LEE aka VOEUTH LAY, JOHN
DOES 1-15; JANE DOES 1-15; DOE
Plaintiff Reneau C. Kennedy, Ed.D, (“Kennedy”) is a forensic psychologist
and court-appointed custody evaluator who testified adversely to Defendant Vee
Lee (“Lee”) in a state custody matter in 2019. Lee has since launched an online
smear campaign intended to destroy Kennedy’s reputation and cause her emotional
suffering. For instance, Lee has secured and created web domains using
Kennedy’s name to spread disparaging information about Kennedy.
On December 21, 2020, Kennedy filed suit, alleging that Lee’s actions
constitute, inter alia, a violation of the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection
Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d) (Count II), deceptive trade practices in violation of the
State Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Haw. Rev. Stat. § 480-2 (Count
V), and federal common law trademark infringement (Count VI).
Case 1:20-cv-00563-DKW-KJM Document 68 Filed 05/10/22 Page 2 of 15
Kennedy now moves for summary judgment on these three counts and asks
the Court to order Lee to transfer ownership of the germane domain names and
social media accounts (listed below) to Kennedy.
On Counts II and VI, the Court partially grants summary judgment in
Kennedy’s favor because Lee’s actions, with regard to the domain names and
social media accounts that incorporate Kennedy’s name, constitute cybersquatting
and common law trademark infringement. The Court denies summary judgment
with regard to the “Portlock predator” accounts because Kennedy does not own
On Count V, the Court denies summary judgment because Kennedy has not
shown that she is a “consumer” under the statute with standing to sue for deceptive
trade practices. See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 480-1–2.
A court must grant a motion for summary judgment if, when viewed in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party, the record shows “that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Genzler v. Longanbach, 410 F.3d 630, 636
(9th Cir. 2005).
Case 1:20-cv-00563-DKW-KJM Document 68 Filed 05/10/22 Page 3 of 15
RELEVANT UNDISPUTED FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Kennedy has been a clinical and forensic neuropsychologist practicing under
the name “Dr. Reneau Kennedy” since 1994.1 CSF ¶¶ 1, 4. 2 Since 2006, she has
served as an expert witness and independent court examiner for sanity panels and
custody evaluations for Hawai’i state courts. Id. ¶ 2.
On June 14, 2019, Kennedy was appointed as custody evaluator in the
matter Vee Lee v. Scott Alan Jones, Case No. FC-D No. 19-1-0041, in the Family
Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawai’i. Id. ¶ 6. Pursuant to that appointment,
Kennedy conducted psychological evaluations of Lee, Scott Jones, and their three
children. Id. ¶ 7. Kennedy issued a custody evaluation report and testified as an
expert witness in the matter on August 22, 2019. Id. ¶ 7; Dkt. No. 56 at 3. The
Family Court subsequently issued an order awarding temporary sole legal and
physical custody of the three children to Jones on September 23, 2019. CSF ¶ 8;
Complaint ¶ 20, Dkt. No. 1; First Amended Answer (“FAA”) ¶ 20, Dkt. No. 14.
Kennedy registered her name, Dr. Reneau Kennedy, as a Service Mark with the United States
Patent and Trademark Office on December 28, 2021. CSF ¶ 3.
Because Lee has neither filed a memorandum opposing summary judgment, nor a response to
Kennedy’s Concise Statement of Facts (“CSF”), Dkt. No. 57, the facts advanced by Kennedy are
assumed to be true. See Local Rule 56.1(g) (“For purposes of a motion for summary judgment,
material facts set forth in the movant’s concise statement will be deemed admitted unless
controverted by a separate concise statement of the opposing party.”).
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Following the Family Court decision, in October 2020, Lee began sending
emails to Kennedy, threatening to ruin Kennedy’s reputation via online marketing
tactics. Id. ¶¶ 10–13. For example, on October 26, 2020, Lee wrote:
You’re a predator. You’re the predator of Portlock. 3 I will not let you
go down on record with your lies without me disputing it. By the time
I’m done, you will be known as the Portlock Predator. It has a ring to
it. And I’m really good at marketing. You’re a vile woman who should
not be practicing and I won’t rest until that is known.
Id. ¶ 10. On October 27, 2020, Lee sent an email with the subject line,
“ReneauKennedy.com,” informing Kennedy that the domain names
drrneaukennedy.com and portlockpredator.com were “registered and ready to be
used,” and warning, “Don’t worry, I’m in no rush.” Id. ¶ 12. On October 27,
2020, Lee sent a second email to Kennedy with the subject line, “Good news,”
I wanted to share some good news with you! In just 5 minutes, I was
able to secure all the necessary social media accounts to accompany the
domains to show more credibility and for branding purposes.
I am using what I have to get the truth out… and I won’t rest until you
are done. You act as if there’s no God.
But better news for you is this will be my last message to you…
hopefully the next time you hear about this should be from someone
else… or better yet, from everyone else!
It’ll take time… but it will happen. Promise.
Portlock is a neighborhood on O’ahu, east of Honolulu, where Kennedy apparently resides.
Case 1:20-cv-00563-DKW-KJM Document 68 Filed 05/10/22 Page 5 of 15
Id. ¶ 13.
Around the same time, Lee, in fact, registered the domains
reneaukennedy.com, drreneaukennedy.com, and portlockpredator.com, id. ¶ 9, and
created a website at reneaukennedy.com. Id. ¶ 14. Lee posted her goal for the
website as follows:
[T]o get my children back by having [Kennedy’s] report and testimony
thrown out as evidence and for [Kennedy] to be held accountable for
obstructing family court justice by committing perjury. She couldn’t
[sic] be allowed to continue practicing and tearing families apart. She
caused my children and me a lot of damages, emotionally and
Lee also opened social media profiles on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
The Instagram profile @portlockpredator is private, but it includes a photo of
Kennedy with red horns and a mustache drawn on, and the caption, “Dr. Reneau
Kennedy is a Racist. Dr. Reneau Kennedy is a lying [woman] & children hating
‘psychologist’ who defends murderers. See for yourself, Google search ‘State v.
Bradley Kryla.’” Id. ¶ 21. The Instagram profile @reneaukennedy is also private,
but the caption states, “THEY STOLE MY BABIES. Dr. Reneau Kennedy of
Portlock Hawaii is a racist [woman] & children hating, egg shaped ‘psychologist,’”
id. ¶ 22, and it links to Lee’s reneaukennedy.com website. Id. ¶ 20. The Facebook
profile @drreneaukennedy includes the profile name “Reneau Kennedy,” the same
photo of Kennedy with red horns and mustache, and an “About” section with
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similar remarks. Id. ¶ 23. The Twitter profile @drreneaukennedy includes the
same photo and states, “Dr. Kennedy is married to a prominent lawyer and is well
connected in Hawaii. She is dishonest and evil. And will defend Murderers,” and
links to reneaukennedy.com. Id. ¶ 24.
As of January 20, 2021, another of Lee’s websites,
hippiesandhousewives.com, was linked to reneaukennedy.com. Id. ¶ 25.
Potential Kennedy clients have observed the reneaukennedy.com website
and the Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, questioning the webpages’
origins. Id. ¶ 26.
RELEVANT PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On December 21, 2020, Kennedy filed a Complaint alleging the following
Counts: (i) violation of Cyberpiracy Protections for Individuals, 15 U.S.C. § 8131;
(ii) violation of Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125;
(iii) Federal Trademark Infringement; (iv) Federal Unfair Competition; (v) State
Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices in violation of Haw. Rev. Stat. § 480-2; (vi)
Common Law Trademark Infringement and Unfair Competition; (vii) False Light;
and (viii) Defamation. See Complaint, Dkt. No. 1.
On January 29, 2021, Lee answered, denying liability but admitting many of
the key factual allegations and promising to continue those activities in order to
“prevent other families from being torn apart and especially harming children.”
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FAA ¶ 101; see also ibid. ¶ 48 (asserting her belief that “stating opinion and truths
about Plaintiff is a protected activity, even though it’s unpleasant”). 4
On March 23, 2022, Kennedy filed the instant Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment (the “Motion”) on Counts II, V, and VI. Dkt. No. 56. Lee, who is
proceeding pro se, did not oppose the Motion by the briefing deadline, April 29,
2022, see Dkt. No. 59, nor since. This Order follows.
Summary judgment is granted on Count II as to the domains
reneaukennedy.com and drreneaukennedy.com but not
The Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d)
(“Section 1125(d)”) provides, in relevant part:
(d) Cyberpiracy prevention
(1)(A) A person shall be liable in a civil action by the owner of a mark,
including a personal name which is protected as a mark under this
section, if . . . that person—
Has a bad faith intent to profit from that mark, including a
personal name which is protected as a mark under this
Registers, traffics in, or uses a domain name that—
In the case of a mark that is distinctive at the time
of registration of the domain name, is identical or
confusingly similar to that mark . . . .
Lee also asserts counterclaims against Kennedy for (i) Declaratory Judgment of NonInfringement and (ii) Abuse of Process. See FAA at 38–42.
Case 1:20-cv-00563-DKW-KJM Document 68 Filed 05/10/22 Page 8 of 15
To prevail under this section, a plaintiff must prove that “(1) the defendant
registered, trafficked in, or used a domain name; (2) the domain name is identical
or confusingly similar to a protected mark owned by the plaintiff; and (3) the
defendant acted ‘with bad faith intent to profit from that mark.’” DSPT Int’l, Inc.
v. Nahum, 624 F.3d 1213, 1218–19 (9th Cir. 2010). The following nine factors
may be considered in determining whether the defendant acted “with bad faith
intent to profit”:
The trademark or other intellectual property rights of the person, if
any, in the domain name;
The extent to which the domain name consists of the legal name
of the person or a name that is otherwise commonly used to
identify that person;
The person’s prior use, if any, of the domain name in connection
with the bona fide offering of any goods or services;
The person’s bona fide noncommercial or fair use of the mark in
a site accessible under the domain name;
The person’s intent to divert consumers from the mark owner’s
online location to a site accessible under the domain name that
could harm the goodwill represented by the mark, either for
commercial gain or with the intent to tarnish or disparage the
mark, by creating a likelihood of confusion as to the source,
sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the site;
The person’s offer to transfer, sell, or otherwise assign the
domain name to the mark owner or any third party for financial
gain without having used, or having an intent to use, the domain
name in the bona fide offering of any goods or services, or the
person’s prior conduct indicating a pattern of such conduct;
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The person’s provision of material and misleading false contact
information when applying for the registration of the domain
name, the person’s intentional failure to maintain accurate
contact information, or the person’s prior conduct indicating a
pattern of such conduct;
The person’s registration or acquisition of multiple domain
names which the person knows are identical or confusingly
similar to marks of others that are distinctive at the time of
registration of such domain names, or dilutive of famous marks
of others that are famous at the time of registration of such
domain names, without regard to the goods or services of the
The extent to which the mark incorporated in the person’s
domain name registration is or is not distinctive and famous
within the meaning of subsection (c).
15 U.S.C. § 1125(d)(1)B(i). This list of nine factors is not exhaustive. Id. “Bad
faith intent . . . shall not be found in any case in which the court determines that the
person believed and had reasonable grounds to believe that the use of the domain
name was a fair use or otherwise lawful.” 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d).
Here, Kennedy is entitled to summary judgment because there is no genuine
dispute of material fact that the three liability elements have been met as to two of
the domains at issue. First, Lee registered, trafficked in, or used the domain names
reneaukennedy.com, drrneaukennedy.com, and portlockpredator.com, CSF ¶¶ 9,
28, and then she created a website at reneaukennedy.com, linking it to several
social media accounts and other websites. Id. ¶¶ 14, 20, 23–32.
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Second, the domain names reneaukennedy.com and drreneaukennedy.com
are identical to a protected mark owned by the plaintiff—her name, Dr. Reneau
Kennedy. See 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d) (“[A] personal name . . . is protected as a mark
under this section . . . .”). 5 Kennedy has used her name professionally since 1994
and has a strong interest in protecting its reputation and goodwill. See CSF ¶ 1.
Third, in light of the nine permissive factors and other relevant
circumstances, there is no genuine dispute of material fact that Lee acted with bad
faith intent to profit from Kennedy’s mark. Lee does not claim to have any prior
connection to the name. See Section 1125(d)(1)(B)(i) (Factors 1, 2, 3 and 8).
Rather, Lee adopted it for the express purpose of tarnishing Kennedy’s name by
diverting Kennedy’s potential online clients to Lee’s own disparaging sites,
thereby gaining leverage over Kennedy. See id. (Factors 4 and 5); CSF ¶¶ 10, 12–
14 (Lee’s admitted goal in creating her online presence was, “to get my children
back by having [Kennedy’s] report and testimony thrown out as evidence and for
[Kennedy] to be held accountable”). Moreover, exactly as Lee intended,
prospective Kennedy clients have viewed reneaukennedy.com and questioned the
site’s origin. See 1125(d)(1)(B)(i) (Factor 5); CSF ¶ 26. Finally, even though Lee
believes she has a constitutional right to use these particular domains to “stat[e her]
By contrast, Kennedy does not own the moniker “Portlock predator,” nor has she provided any
evidence of owning any mark remotely similar.
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opinions” about Kennedy, see, e.g., FAA ¶¶ 58–59, there are no reasonable
grounds for that belief. See Section 1125(d). Thus, Lee acted with bad faith intent
to profit from the domains that reflect Kennedy’s name, and summary judgment is
therefore granted as to those domains.
Summary judgment is denied on Count V for lack of standing.
Haw. Rev. Stat. § 480-2 (“Section 480-2”) prohibits two distinct activities:
unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive trade practices. Kennedy’s
Count V asserts only the latter. See Complaint ¶ 126 (“Lee’s conduct constitutes
unfair and deceptive acts or practices in the course of a business, trade, or
commerce in violation of HRS § 480-2.”); Motion at 14 (similar).
Actions for unfair or deceptive trade practices are limited to “consumer[s]”
and certain government officials. “No person other than a consumer, the attorney
general or the director of the office of consumer protection may bring an action
based upon unfair or deceptive acts or practices declared unlawful by this section.”
Haw. Rev. Stat. § 480-2(d). A “consumer” is “a natural person who, primarily for
personal, family, or household purposes, purchases, attempts to purchase, or is
solicited to purchase goods or services or who commits money, property, or
services in a personal investment.” Haw. Rev. Stat. § 480-1.6
More completely, a claim of deceptive trade practices requires a plaintiff to show: “(1) a
representation, omission, or practice that (2) is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably
under the circumstances where (3) the representation, omission, or practice is material.” Courbat
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Kennedy has not explained how she fits this definition. She has not asserted
that she has purchased, attempted to purchase, or been solicited to purchase
anything. Nor is it evident how she has committed anything to a “personal
investment” implicated by Lee’s conduct. Because Kennedy has not demonstrated
that she possesses the “consumer” status necessary to sue for unfair or deceptive
trade practices under Section 480-2, summary judgment on Count V is denied.
Summary judgment is granted on Count VI.
To prevail on a claim of common law trademark infringement, a plaintiff
must demonstrate (1) ownership of a protectable mark and (2) a likelihood of
consumer confusion between that mark and the allegedly infringing mark. Levi
Strauss & Co. v. Blue Bell, Inc., 778 F.2d 1352, 1354 (9th Cir. 1985).
To own a mark, a person must be the first to use the mark, Brookfield
Commc’ns, Inc. v. West Coast Ent. Corp., 174 F.3d 1036, 1047 (9th Cir. 1999),
and such use must be ongoing. Quiksilver, Inc. v. Kymsta Corp., 466 F.3d 749,
762 (9th Cir. 2006); see also Pacific Supply Co-op. v. Farmers Union Cent. Exch.,
Inc., 318 F.2d 894, 905 (9th Cir. 1963) (explaining that trademark ownership is not
dependent on official registration of the mark, but rather it “arise[s] under common
law from prior exclusive appropriation or adoption and use”).7
v. Dahana Ranch, Inc., 141 P.3d 427, 435 (Haw. 2006) (internal quotation marks and citation
See also United Drug Co. v. Theodore Rectanus Co., 248 U.S. 90, 97–98 (1918) (“[T]he right to
a particular mark grows out of its use . . . ; its function is simply to designate the goods as the
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In deciding whether there is a likelihood of confusion, a court may consider
eight non-exclusive factors: (1) the strength of the mark; (2) the proximity or
relatedness of the goods; (3) the similarity of the marks; (4) whether there is
evidence of actual confusion; (5) the degree to which the marketing channels used
by the parties overlap; (6) the type of goods and the degree of care likely to be
exercised by the purchaser; (7) the defendant’s intent in selecting the mark; and (8)
the likelihood of expansion of the product lines. E. & J. Gallo Winery v. Gallo
Cattle Co., 967 F.2d 1280, 1290 (9th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted).
Here, there is no genuine dispute of material fact that Lee has infringed on
Kennedy’s common law trademark interest in her own name. First, Kennedy owns
the mark Dr. Reneau Kennedy; she clearly has a senior and ongoing claim to her
name, having used it professionally since 1994, as compared to Lee’s
appropriation, which began in 2020.
Second, there is a high likelihood of consumer confusion. Lee has coopted
Kennedy’s name for the express purpose of directing consumers to Lee’s own
websites in order to proliferate her own message in place of Kennedy’s. Further,
not only are Lee’s actions designed to confuse Kennedy’s potential online
product of a particular trader and to protect his good will against the sale of another’s product as
his . . . .”).
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customers, but she has succeeded in that endeavor, at least to an extent. See CSF
¶ 26. Accordingly, summary judgment is granted.
Consistent with the foregoing, summary judgment as to Counts II and VI is
GRANTED IN PART. Summary judgment as to Count V is DENIED.
The Court hereby ORDERS Lee (1) to immediately cease use of the domain
names reneaukennedy.com and drreneaukennedy.com and transfer ownership of
those domains to Kennedy 8; (2) to immediately cease use of and delete the
following social media accounts: Instagram @reneaukennedy, Facebook
@drreneaukennedy, and Twitter @drreneaukennedy; and (3) to immediately cease
use of the marks Reneau Kennedy, Dr. Reneau Kennedy, and/or any confusingly
similar name on the Internet. See Brookfield, 174 F.3d at 1047 (holding that the
senior user of a domain name trademark has a right to enjoin junior users from
using confusingly similar marks in the same market and reversing district court’s
denial of a preliminary injunction).
The Court will not tolerate terrorism of court-appointed personnel for work
performed in service of the court by parties who are not satisfied with judicial
If these domain names were purchased from a website builder such as Squarespace, where
transfer of ownership is not possible, Lee is ordered to immediately delete the web content on
Case 1:20-cv-00563-DKW-KJM Document 68 Filed 05/10/22 Page 15 of 15
outcomes. Accordingly, further relief may be warranted, particularly if Lee’s
compliance with this Order is not immediately forthcoming.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: May 10, 2022 at Honolulu, Hawai’i.
United States District Judge
Reneau C. Kennedy, Ed.D., vs. Vee Lee aka Voeuth Lay et al; Civil No. 20-00563
DKW-KJM; ORDER (1) PARTIALLY GRANTING SUMMARY
JUDGMENT IN PLAINTIFF’S FAVOR ON COUNTS II AND VI, (2)
DENYING SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON COUNT V, AND (3) GRANTING
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