Dennis Toeppen

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Dennis Eric Toeppen
Born 1964 (age 53–54)
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Residence Champaign, Illinois
Nationality United States
Education BS, MS, MBA
Alma mater University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Northwestern University
University of Chicago
Occupation Bus company owner
Years active 1983–present
Employer Self-employed
Organization Suburban Express
Home town Mount Prospect, Illinois

Dennis Toeppen is an American entrepreneur and the owner of bus company Suburban Express. He was a party to two cases of first impression relating to Domain Name registration.

Early life and education[edit]

Dennis Eric Toeppen grew up in Mount Prospect, Illinois. He graduated from Prospect High School in 1982 and enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, majoring in electrical engineering. He later changed his major to business, and graduated in 1987.[1] Thereafter, he obtained a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, a master's degree in transportation from Northwestern University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.[2]

Bus transportation[edit]

In 1983, Toeppen started Suburban Express, a bus company which provides transportation from Urbana-Champaign and several other towns containing universities to Chicago. After waging an initial price war with rival Greyhound Lines, fares in competitive markets had been reduced, and Suburban Express' ticket sales in Urbana-Champaign equaled those of Greyhound by 1985.[1]

In 2013, Suburban Express received negative media coverage and a large amount of criticism from the public after filing 125 lawsuits against passengers and threatening others, including a Reddit moderator.[3] Afterwards, the company withdrew its lawsuits, only to reinstate many.[4]

Toeppen also started Allerton Charter Coach, Inc., a charter bus company with three buses and four vans as of 2014. It operates as a charter company for Suburban Express.[5][6]

On April 23, 2018 Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit against Toeppen's Suburban Express, placing it under a temporary restraining order against some business practices and privacy violations. On July 19, 2018, Toeppen's lawyer filed a motion to withdraw as counsel, stating the lawyer and Toeppen "have reached an impasse", also indicating Toeppen has not paid and is unable to pay for legal services.[5] Additionally, Allerton has sought compensation from its insurance carrier, Manufacturers Alliance Insurance Company (MAICO), to pay for the lawsuit. MAICO rejected the claim and sued Toeppen and Allerton to get judgment on the claim. AG Lisa Madigan is also named in the suit to represent the people of Illinois, as the coverage is being requested for the suit that she brought to Suburban Express.[5][7]

Domain registration & trademark litigation[edit]

In 1995, Toeppen registered about 200 internet domain names including some which were similar to well known companies and popular trademarks.[8] Some of them included (Panavision), (Delta Air Lines), (Neiman Marcus), (Eddie Bauer) and (New York Yankees).[8] Some of these companies, like Delta Air Lines,[9] paid Toeppen to acquire the domain names from him.[10]

In 1996, Panavision, a camera manufacturing company, sued Toeppen for trademark infringement instead of paying him $13,000 for the domain. In 1998, the court ruled that Toeppen had to relinquish the domain name to Panavision.[8][11][12][13] In a similar case brought in 1996, Intermatic Inc., a timer manufacturing company, sued Toeppen rather than pay him $5,000 for the domain name[14] The court ruled that the domain be transferred to Intermatic but ruled Intermatic had not proven willful trademark infringement or unfair competition.[15]

Both the Panavision and Intermatic cases were matters of first impression for the U.S. Courts in dealing with trademarks and domain registrations.[16] The practice of registering trademarked words as domains for sale to trademark holders became known as Cybersquatting, a term that was first used by a court in 1998.[17][18] In November 1999, after the Panavision case had ended, and while Intermatic Inc. v. Toeppen was still pending, the United States gave trademark holders a cause of action against registrants of domain names containing trademarks, in the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.[10]


  1. ^ a b Rozek, Dan (1985-10-20). "Fare wars - Bus service run by student butts heads with Greyhound" (PDF). Daily Herald (Arlington Heights). Retrieved 2016-02-22. 
  2. ^ "Dennis Toeppen's website". Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  3. ^ Gallagher, Sean (2013-04-26). "Express to Internet Hate: Bus company threatens redditor with lawsuit". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2016-07-03. 
  4. ^ Gallagher, Sean (2013-05-02). "Nonstop to schadenfreude: Suburban Express' u-turn on reddit lawsuit". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2016-07-03. 
  5. ^ a b c "Attorney for Suburban Express owner says he wants out". Retrieved 2018-07-20. 
  6. ^ "Buses". Allerton Charter website. Retrieved 2014-01-28. 
  7. ^ "Suburban Express insurer lawsuit PDF" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-07-20. 
  8. ^ a b c Bidgoli, Hossein. The Internet Encyclopedia: P - Z. p. 455. 
  9. ^ Wayner, Peter (September 21, 1998). "Compressed Data; What's in a Web Name? Sometimes, Mistaken Identity". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 
  10. ^ a b Newenham, Pamela (2013-05-30). "Make sure you have control of your domain – or prepare to pay the price". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2013-06-28. 
  11. ^ Spinello, Richard. Cyberethics: Morality and Law in Cyberspace. 
  12. ^ Graham, Lawrence (1999). Legal Battles That Shaped the Computer Industry. Praeger. pp. 135–138. ISBN 1567201784. 
  13. ^ Panavision Int'l, L.P. v. Toeppen, 945 F. Supp. 1296 (C.D. Cal. 1996), aff'd, 141 F.3d 1316 (9th Cir. 1998).
  14. ^ Peter, Lewis (1996-09-12). "The Internet's Gatekeeper May Cash In on Its Role". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  15. ^ "Intermatic Inc. v. Toeppen, 947 F. Supp. 1227 (N.D. Ill. 1996)". Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  16. ^ "Intermatic Inc. v. Toeppen, 947 F. Supp. 1227 (N.D. Ill. 1996)". 23 March 2001. Retrieved 15 June 2016. As in Panavision International LP v Toeppen...The particular issues in this case were primarily issues of first impression and at the relevant period there was a lack of legal precedent regarding issues arising from the intersection of trademark law and the Internet. 
  17. ^ "Avery Dennison v Sumpton". Intellectual Property in Cyberspace: Domain Names & Trademarks. Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Retrieved 15 June 2016. 
  18. ^ Isenberg, Doug. "The Origins of 'Cybersquatting'". Retrieved 15 June 2016.