What do RedlandBaptist.org, RedlandBaptist.net, RedlandBaptist.com, Gracedriven.org and GraceDriven.com all have in common? The same IP address. This means when I type in any of the above, a Domain Name Server (DNS) takes these requests and returns from a database an address – in this case 188.8.131.52. The same approach is used for blogs4God.com and blogsForGod.com. We do this because names are usually easier to remember than numbers.
However, if I were really smart, and well funded, I would also obtain the domain names RedlandBabtist.org or perhaps RedlandBapsit.org. Why? Because the cheapest legal remedy to boot a “typosquatter” starts at $1,250. The price tag for an appeal to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). A non-profit corporation that was formed to assume responsibility for domain name system management, among other things.
Another step to avoid “cybersquatting” might take would be to obtain various variations such as RedlandBaptists.org. A step I’m sure the Rev. Jerry Falwell wishes he would have taken. Instead, now his own domain Falwell.com has to compete with two rather unflattering sites by the domain names Fallwell.com and JerryFalwell.com. The later bragging of a recent WIPO decision in which the Pastor failed to assume ownership of the domain bearing his own name.
* DISCLAIMER * Dean Peters is NOT A LAWYER – NOTHING he says here should be considered as sound legal advice – consult your attorney for precise details.
Does this mean that the cybersquatters will always win? NO! In fact, in a recent situation, HarperStephens of California registered several variations on Harry Potter only to have to surrender them because the studio producing the film had spent the $740 bucks to Trademark the name. From how my novice brain understands the law, it seems to me that the Trademark is the trump card in such disputes. I am surprised in this particular case the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act wasn’t thrown at the Potter-Squatter.
Of course, with regards to churches and charities, the water becomes incredibly colluded. I suspect it would be difficult for 1st Baptist Church of Rockville, MD to pursue infringement litigation against 1st Baptist Church of Rockville, NY over “firstbaptistofrockville.org” as it is clear even to this non-lawyer that such a registration isn’t in bad faith.
The point is, considering how many 1st Baptist or St.Patricks there are out there, it is far less expensive to get all the domain names you need to help your visitors find your site, versus having to file suit. If nothing else, it will save you embarrassment if/when someone gets their undies in a wad and creates a hate site.
* UPDATE * Ernest Svenson replied an email I sent him about this article – he suggest I recommend Marty Schwimmer over at the Trademark Blog. As he puts it “Marty’s a great guy, practices Trademark law (which involves domain name disputes), and knows this stuff cold. I would list him as an expert.” … who am I to turn down such expert advice? So I am. Of course, I’m also a bit nervous having them read my layman’s hacking of the law, just as I’m sure they’d be nervous of me perusing a tech topic on their sites !-) Be gentle guys.
Here is some additional reading: