In How to Defeat a Cybersquatter, I wrote about using ICANN’s comparatively quick and inexpensive Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) to defeat cybersquatters. The domain name NewtGingrich.com recently was squatted upon – but I doubt that Newt will be able to use the UDRP successfully to recover that domain.
Gingrich Communications had owned NewtGingrich.com since 2004, but apparently forgot to renew the domain name in August 2011. By December 2011, it was owned by American Bridge 21st Century, a progressive Political Action Committee. (In the interim, it was owned by entities in Chihuahua, Mexico.)
In an interview in today’s San Francisco Chronicle (“Rod Beckstrom, CEO of ICANN, talks about new domain names“), the CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers stated that ICANN will create a global marks database to help protect trademark owners against cybersquatting.
The database will be developed in conjunction with ICANN’s forthcoming implementation new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom is quoted in the Chron article as saying (emphasis added):
In How to Defeat a Cybersquatter, I wrote about ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. The UDRP provides a quick, inexpensive way to recover a domain name from a cybersquatter (someone who has obtained a domain name that is the same as, or confusingly similar to, a trademark or service mark that you own). However, if you want to recover money, you will have to go to court.
Before proceeding further, let me be clear: I think lawsuits should be avoided whenever possible. As a trial lawyer told me many years ago, “Litigation is a terrible way to run a business.” Unfortunately, litigation sometimes is necessary.
Someone has obtained a domain name that is the same as, or confusingly similar to, a trademark or service mark that you own. How can you take the domain name from this “cybersquatter”?
When he registered the domain name, the cybersquatter (the Registrant) agreed to ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).
Under the UDRP, you (the Complainant) will be required to prove all of the following:
(i) The domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which you have rights.
(ii) The Registrant has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name.
(iii) The domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
The December 2009 issue of les Nouvelles, a publication of Licensing Executives Society International, has an interesting article about the interplay between domain name disputes and trademark licensing.
“WIPO Domain Name Cases Offer Trademark Licensing Lessons,” by Hee-Eun Kim, an LLM student in Munich, Germany, starts by describing the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) and the role of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in resolving disputes under the UDRP.
Earlier this year, I helped a client recover an Internet domain name that a disgruntled former employee had hijacked shortly after his employment had been terminated.
I prepared a complaint under ICANN‘s Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (the “UDRP”) and filed it with an ICANN-approved dispute-resolution provider.
Seven weeks later, the provider ruled in the client’s favor, and the domain name was returned. We were pleased, of course, but my client had to invest a lot of time, anxiety and money to achieve a successful resolution.
Cybersquatting is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad-faith intent to profit from a trademark belonging to someone else. NBA superstar Chris Bosh recently won a major victory against a serial cybersquatter.
On September 24, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted an order requiring that Luis Zavala transfer all of his domain name holdings to Bosh. (A list of those holdings is available on this blog’s Downloads page as “Chris Bosh – Domain Names Awarded” – just sign up using the drop-down list in the sidebar.) This award is particularly significant because it is, to the best of my knowledge, the first time that a party has been awarded domain names that profit from third parties’ trademarks.
Bosh offered to make the domain names available to the applicable trademark owners at no charge through his social media firm Max Deal Technologies.
Check out all posts about cybersquatting.
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.
Twice within the past 24 hours, a client has contacted me with concerns about trademark protection. In each instance, the concerns were caused by an e-mail that offered specified domain names in Asia. I will describe the e-mails in detail so you will know to be on guard if you receive anything similar:
- The subject line includes terms such as “copyright” or “intellectual property.”
- The text indicates that the sending company, an Internet domain registrar located in Asia, has received a request to register domain names with country codes in Asia that are similar to a “trademark” (more precisely, a domain name) that you own. For example, if you own <universalwidgets.com>, the e-mail might state that there are requests to register <universalwidgets.cn> and <universalwidgets.asia>.
- The e-mail then offers you an opportunity to protect your trademark by buying the Asian domain names yourself, rather than letting them be purchased by the third party. However, to take advantage of this opportunity, you must act quickly.
- The individual ostensibly sending the e-mail has an Americanized name, such as “John Zhou” or “Adam Hao”.