The popularity of the internet and the need to have unique, short website addresses is becoming an increasingly difficult issue. The similarity of some company’s names or slogans has meant this piece of digital real-estate has become increasingly valuable and ‘getting the lawyers in’ to secure the right domain name is not uncommon in big business.
Below are a few of my favourite examples of ‘domain name disputes’ that made the headlines.
CANDLYLAND v. CANDYLAND
Both Hasbro and an adult entertainment provider desired the candyland.com domain name. Hasbro was too late to register the name itself, but it is never too late to sue (well, almost never). The domain name is now safely in the hands of Hasbro.
This domain name was taken by an author from Wired magazine who was writing a story on the value of domain names. In his article, the author requested that people contact him at email@example.com with suggestions of what to do with the domain name. In exchange for returning the domain name to McDonalds, the author convinced the company to make a charitable contribution.
PEOPLE EATING TASTY ANIMALS
An organization entitled “People Eating Tasty Animals” obtained the peta.org domain name, much to the disgust of the better know People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This domain name is suspended, but was still registered in the name of People Eating Tasty Animals and they now have a Facebook page as well.
ZERO MICRO SOFTWARE v. MICROSOFT
The company Zero Micro Software obtained a registration for micros0ft.com (with a zero in place of the second ‘o’), but the registration was suspended after Microsoft filed a protest. When the domain was abandoned for non-payment of fees, it was picked up by someone else: Vision Enterprises of Roanoke, TX
The MTV domain name was originally taken by MTV video jockey Adam Curry. Although MTV originally showed little interest in the domain name or the Internet, when Adam Curry left MTV the company wanted to control the domain name. After a federal court action was brought, the dispute settled out of court.
ROADRUNNER v. ALL THE BIG BOYS
When NSI threatened to suspend the roadrunner.com domain name after a protest by Warner Brothers, the New Mexico Internet access provider who was using the domain name filed suit to prevent the suspension. Although the access provider was able to prevent the suspension, a joint venture company involving Time Warner, MediaOne, Microsoft, Compaq, and Advance/Newhouse eventually obtained the domain name.
WHERE IS TAIWAN ?
The mainland China news organization Xinhua was allowed to register the domain name taiwan.com, much to the disgust of the government of Taiwan.
Thanks to www.bitlaw.com for the case examples.