Enterprising Programmer Buys Domain In The 1990s; Startup Wants It In 2014.
Sixteen years ago, a London-based programmer, Jason Kneen, purchased the domain workbetter.com.
Fast forward to 2014. According to reports, Kneen is contacted by Harsh Mehta, the entrepreneur behind OfficeLinks, who wants to buy workbetter.com. To promote his company, Mehta had already bought workbetter.us and was looking to obtain the higher-profile workbetter.com. The OfficeLinks co-founder offered Kneen $500, but for various reasons, the programmer ultimately turned down the deal.
After negotiations had fallen through, in April 2014, Mehta filed an intent-to-use trademark application for the phrase “Work Better.” Then, in June, Kneen caught wind that someone was trying to do a domain transfer on the URL. Turns out the would-be domain interloper was, as Mehta would later explain, one of his “over-zealous” employees. Whatever the case, at the time, Mehta and Kneen appeared to have “made up” on social media.
Startup Files Cybersquatting Lawsuit Over “Warehoused” Domains
But later in the same month, DomainNameWire contacted Kneen, which is allegedly how he found out about that OfficeLinks was suing him for cybersquatting in a New York Federal Court. According to reports, as a result of the lawsuit, Kneen’s domain name provider locked the URL during proceedings – presumably until the legal matter resolved.
In a public statement, Mehta explained his position thusly:
“This is a dispute between a company that is trying to protect its trademark, and make genuine use of it, and an ideology that entitles individuals (and businesses, including Jason Kneen’s) to hijack existing and prospective trademark registrations for $18/year.”
Interesting Case; Tough Call
This domain dispute is worth following for a couple of reasons.
- Both parties are fairly well-known in the tech and startup communities.
- It’s easy to see both parties’ points.
As John Biggs on Tech Crunch eloquently explains:
Got Questions About Cybersquatting Cases? Consult A Domain Dispute Lawyer.
Kelly Warner is an Internet law firm that has successfully handled dozens of domain disputes and cybersquatting lawsuits. A top AV-rated firm, our attorneys enjoy a high success rate. To read more about cybersquatting case studies, head here. To learn more about Kelly / Warner’s Internet law practice, click here. If you’re ready to schedule a consultation, please head here.
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You can’t hold famous domains hostage for cash. That get-rich-quick scheme left the station in 1999 when Congress “yea’d” the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act into law.
Below are two summaries of recent cybersquatting cases. If you’re ready to speak with a domain dispute lawyer, go here.
Wiz Khalifa Won A Cybersquatting Lawsuit
Domain marketer Anthony Lynch recently found himself in a legal tangle with Cameron Thomaz – a.k.a., Wiz Khalifa. Lynch scooped up eight domain names featuring the rapper’s trademarks.
Since Khalifa’s claim was straightforward, only one UDRP panelist sat for the case, who ruled in favor of the musician. Why? Because Khalifa used and registered the trademarks before Lynch purchased the domain names. The panelist also pontificated that Lynch probably bought the URLS with the “express intention to target” Wiz Khalifa.
The final verdict: all eight domains need to be transferred back to Wiz Khalifa’s company, at no cost to him.
Case: Thomaz et al v. Lynch, No. D2015-0166
Amazon.com and Kellogg: High Profile Cybersquatting Cases
Amazon.com and Kellogg Inc. can both add cybersquatting lawsuit victor to their virtual trophy cases.
After a protracted dispute, the Internet’s largest online retailer won back amazonprom.com, amazonpromdresses.com and amazondresses.org. The panelists ultimately ruled in favor of Amazon because the defendant lacked a legitimate interest in domains that included Amazon’s trademark.
All you cereal enthusiasts out there, you’ll be happy to learn that Kellogg’s won back kelloggs.buzz – for the same reasons Amazon won.
“Bad Faith Intent to Profit”
Both parties won their cybersquatting claims because the defendant demonstrated a “bad faith intent to profit”. Plus, the names under review were “confusingly similar” to trademarked brands.
Cybersquatting is still a big legal issue. Though federal officials passed the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, people still run typosquatting and cybersquatting schemes. But there are ways for trademark holders to regain control of their domains, without shelling out much money.
Speak To A Lawyer Who Has Dealt With Cybersquatting Cases
Kelly / Warner helps trademark holders regain control of domains. An Internet law firm with a cybersquatting law division, we know all the ins-and-outs to reclaim your domain promptly.
Contact us to take back your URL.
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Cybersquatting cases are making a comeback! And this time around, the stakes are higher. Instead of holding domains ransom for a big pay day, today’s cybersquatters are using stolen domains for more nefarious means.
Is Cybersquatting Legal?
To set the record straight: cybersquatting is not legal. Back during the dawn of the Web, a class of enterprising early adopters and out-of-the-box thinkers made a killing by buying up, then selling back, trademarked and common phrase domains.
But corporations quickly called their representatives – and K Street connections – which resulted in the homologation of the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. An extension of the Lanham Act, and passed in 1999, the ACPA essentially extended trademark rights to domain names. To wit, it’s the bill that made nike.com the automatic property of Nike, Inc.
Why is there an uptick in the amount of cybersquatting cases in recent months?
Both the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the FBI have noted an increase in criminal cybersquatting cases over the past two years.
For starters, over the last decade, the price of domain names has increased. As such, it’s not cost effective, for criminals, to purchase URLs. Couple that with the insatiable desire to deploy malware and other viruses – and you’ve got a perfect storm for malicious cybersquatting.
What are the new generation of cybersquatters doing with the stolen domains?
In the past, most cybersquatters were merely looking to make money. These days, many of them are looking to wreak havoc. Victims have reported acts of:
- Domain reselling;
- Portal manipulation;
- Malware Distribution; and
- PPC Schemes.
Advanced cybersquatters are also hijacking domains and re-routing URLS to china, Russia, and Eastern Europe, where they are then used for nefarious financial transactions and other types of cyber criminality. There have even been reports that overseas “organized crime” organizations are hiring cybersquatters.
Authority Squabbles: Who Has Authority?
This new wave of cybersquatting may last quite some time. Why? Because nobody can agree on who is responsible for combating the problem. Law enforcement officials say that the Internet Company of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has the international authority to combat this type of cybersquatting, but ICANN disagrees. Basically, officials are playing a game of hot potato when it comes to enforcement.
Speak with a cybersquatting Attorney
Cybersquatting can take a huge toll on a business and cause considerable financial strain for attacked companies.
Kelly / Warner has successfully handled all manners of cybersquatting cases. As an Internet law firm, our attorneys are well versed in domain dispute law. To learn more about the firm, please go here. To set up a consultation, click here. To send a message, head here.