Monday, August 25, 2008

Noted Christian writer lets his domain lapse, has domain based on his name squatted


A well known Christian author and speaker Ed Gray had his domain name stolen by a “cybersquatter” when he failed to renew it on time. Gray is the author of “40 Days to a Life of G.O.L.D. (God Ordained Life Development) .” You can visit the parked domain now and see that the domain name is held “hostage” for sale.

Gray quotes Shakespeare: “He who steals my purse steals trash … but he who robs me of my good name – robs me of that which – makes me poor indeed.” I hadn't thought about this, but it seems that "online reputation defense" could apply to tarnishment with domain names, too.

Fortunately, Ed Gray has an alternate domain, here.

I’m not sure if ICANN regards a situation like this as registration in “bad faith.” If your domain processes commerce, than it is likely you can register it as a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office. If might be considered a trademark if it had become “famous” in commerce even without registration, and it’s conceivable that the “prospective” aspect of trademark dilution expressed in the 2006 might become an applicable concept in this sort of situation. It’s important to pay attention to WHOIS information and re-register on time. One of my favorite “domain information” sites right now is Domain Tools which used to be “whois.sc.”

To review (I think I've post this before, but I can't find it now), the URL for ICANN's administrative domain name dispute resolution policy is here. ICANN has a new Policy Information page here, which I will have to spend some time navigating.

Picture: Brownie Hawkeye shapshot from around 1972 in West Virginia (Tygart Dam).

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Chilling Effects has major page on trademark


Chilling Effects has a trademark information page that is well worth noting. The basic link is here.

There is an FAQ page by Maya Alexandri titled whimsically “What to expect when you’re expecting (to be sued for trademark infringement).

The page covers such topics as international issues, and similar but not exactly matching wordmarks, and the idea that a trademark connotes the source of a product or service. The page indicates that “it isn’t easy in the United States” to establish if another party has a valid trademark. There are some interesting concepts, such as contributory trademark infringement, and even the possibility that the use of HTML meta-tags based on another party’s trademark could sometimes constitute infringement.

“Fair use” is possible in trademark law (as in copyright). Here the term refers to the use of a term for its descriptive value rather than a secondary commercial (and therefore trademarked) value. Parodies are possible.

It is entirely possible for non-profit organizations to use trademarks if they are engaged in commerce.

Jared Kramer discusses the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (USC 1125, section (d), “Cyberpiracy prevention”, link here on Cornell Law School’s site. This, of course, starts with the premise that domain names can interfere with the use of trademarks, a problem that became evident in the 1990s, as some companies were slow to set up domains based on their marks before others had used them, sometimes unaware of the existing companies’ marks. Cameron Johnson discussed this problem in his book “You Call the Shots” (see this blog April 14).

Amy Bender discusses ICANN’s Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.

Picture: from NASA (p.d.)