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Gingrich Domain is Newtered – But the UDRP Probably Won’t Help

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.)

If Gingrich Communications tried to recover NewtGingrich.com, I believe it would have at least two serious problems:

  1. It would have to show that “Newt Gingrich” is a trademark or service mark. I have seen no evidence to support such a proposition. There is a registered trademark for Gingrich Productions, but not for Newt Gingrich. More fundamentally, I believe that “Newt Gingrich” does not constitute the name by which any products or services have become known to the public.
  2. It would have to show that American Bridge is using the domain in bad faith – which would be difficult to do, given that American Bridge redirects NewtGingrich.com to a variety of sites that poke fun at Newt (such as Tiffany’s where he had a $500,000 line of credit) and other Republicans, rather than taking advantage of his name for financial gain.

The morals of this story:

  • Don’t forget to renew your domain name before it expires.
  • The UDRP won’t necessarily help everyone whose domain has been cybersquatted.

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Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law? +1 510 547-0545? dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
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