The High-touch Legal Services® Blog…for Startups!

© 2009-2020 Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law

“Happy Birthday” May Be in the Public Domain, After All

Photo of lit candles on a cake that spell "Happy Birthday"You probably have sung Happy Birthday [to You]” countless times. This post is about a company that has been collecting royalties from that song and the possibility that those royalties soon may stop.

In 1893, sisters Mildred Jane Hill and Patty Smith Hill published a collection of children’s songs. One of the songs – with the tune that we now know for “Happy Birthday to You” – was “Good Morning to All”.

Good morning to you,
Good morning to you,
Good morning, dear children,
Good morning to all.

While no one knows for sure who wrote the “Happy Birthday” lyrics, their first known publication was in 1912. (more…)

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.)

(more…)

Recover Your Domain Name, and Perhaps Some Money, Too

Display from defendant Nahum's website at the hijacked domain

From defendant Nahum’s website at the hijacked domain

Just over a year ago (Who is the Master of Your Domain? [or, How to Prevent Domain Name Hijacking]), I wrote about recovering a client’s domain name from a disgruntled former employee via ICANN’s Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy. A recent case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (DSPT International v. Nahum) shows that under federal trademark law, an aggrieved domain name owner may be able to recover monetary damages, too.

Defendant Lucky Nahum worked for plaintiff DSPT International and worked with an outside supplier to set up DSPT’s website. Without telling DSPT’s owner, Nahum registered the website’s domain name in his own name.

(more…)

If You Lose a Judgment and Don’t Pay, Your Domain Names Can be Seized

Office Depot won a judgment against John Zuccarini under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999 (15 U.S.C. Section 1125(d)) based on Zuccarini’s bad-faith registration of the domain name <offic-depot.com>, which was confusingly similar to <officedepot.com>.

Office Depot was unable to collect on its monetary judgment against Zuccarini, so it assigned that judgment to DS Holdings (“DSH”). DSH sought to levy against 190 <.com> domain names owned by Zuccarini and for which VeriSign controls the registry (a receiver having been assigned to auction off the domain names). Zuccarini (representing himself!) argued that DSH should be required to levy upon the domain names where their respective registrars are located, rather than at VeriSign’s single location. (more…)

Licensing Trademarks? Think about Domain Names, Too

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. (more…)

Who is the Master of Your Domain? (or, How to Prevent Domain Name Hijacking)

ICANN logo

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.

(more…)

Basketball Star Rescues 800 Domain Names from Cybersquatter

Photo of Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh

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”.) 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. (more…)

Watch Out for Asian Domain Name Scams!

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:

  1. The subject line includes terms such as “copyright” or “intellectual property.”
  2. 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>.
  3. 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.
  4. The individual ostensibly sending the e-mail has an Americanized name, such as “John Zhou” or “Adam Hao”.

(more…)

Eminent Domain: The U.S. Giveth, the U.S. Taketh

Photo of a hand grabbing money, symbolizing the US government's eminent domain powersA fundamental tenet of patent law is that the owner of a patent can preclude others from using or manufacturing inventions that the patent covers. Because of eminent domain, however, that there is a major loophole regarding the U.S. government.

Section 1498(a) of Title 28 of the U.S. Code says, in part:

“Whenever an invention described in and covered by a patent of the United States is used or manufactured by or for the United States without license of the owner thereof or lawful right to use or manufacture the same, the owner’s remedy shall be action against the United States in the United States Court of Federal Claims for recovery of his reasonable and entire compensation for such use and manufacture.”

(Section 1498(b) provides similarly with respect to copyright infringement by the United States.) (more…)

URS – ICANN Offers Uniform Rapid Suspension against Cybersquatters

Logo for ICANN, which developed URS - Uniform Rapid SuspensionI have written several times about ICANN’s longstanding Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). This post discusses a more recent way to thwart some cybersquatters, namely, URS – Uniform Rapid Suspension.

According to ICANN explains, URS exists to “provide rapid relief to trademark holders for the most clear-cut cases of infringement“. Furthermore, URS is cheaper and faster than UDRP. (more…)