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Aurora
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 12:27 am    Post subject: Domain Name Legal Issue -- Thoughts? Reply with quote

I've owned a certain domain name for about a year now. It's been idle (I believe it's been "parked" on Godaddy for the past year).

My friend and I used to run a forum on the domain a while back, however our friendship broke off when he went to college (long story, but I didn't exactly want to hang out with a drunk, crazy college kid doing stupid things every weekend).

Anyways, apparently my old friend gave my eMail address out to one of his friends who owns a company; this friend, the owner of this business, was interested in purchasing my domain.

The owner sent me an eMail requesting a quote on how much I would sell my domain name for. I ignored the eMail, since I'm not interested in selling the domain name.

It turns out, as I recently discovered, that the name of the business that is interested in buying my domain, has the same name as my domain name.

Now, the domain I own is not a business (since it's parked at the moment, doing absolutely nothing). However, I received a nasty eMail today (hah, guess I ain't ignoring this one, 'eh?):

Quote:
Dear Sir/Madam,

Our agents have been interested in purchasing Control and power of [enter my domain name here] for some time now from you now we are finally in a position in about 30 days to no longer ask you nicely to transfer ownership but you will be in violation of State, City and International Trademarks and Copyrights.

We ask that you please work with us to bring this issue to a peaceful resolve but if necessary we will seek legal action you on the charge of infringement of a Trademark and over 8 Copyrights, thank you for your prompt response.

Sincerely,
[title of their business]


What's the deal here? As far as I know, I'm not legally at fault for anything: the domain name is mine, fair and square -- I bought the darned thing over a year ago while it was still available. I could simply ignore the eMail, as I'm not exactly worried about some stupid punk college kid attempting to threaten me online, but I want to make 100% sure that I can't get myself into anything I don't want to be involved in (i.e., court; heck, I don't care all that much about my domain, and I'd most rather focus on my studies -- which are quite important to me). I guess what I'm trying to say is, if this is going to cause me a headache, I'd rather just give the guy what he wants.

What's your take on this?

Thoughts/ideas/feelings about this (especially anybody with legal experience) is greatly appreciated.
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steveb
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

phuuuu.... i hear so many things happening with court in america, that i can not give you any help.

in my country (i am from switzerland), the thing is like this: if you registred the domain before he registred his company, then he can do nothing against your domain.

what i would do in your position: i would check out, how long the company exists and based on that info i would then judge what to do.

if the domain is not important to you and this "punk" (i like the expression) is going on your nerves, then don't sell him the domain! instead of that, transfere it to someone outside of america!

and while waiting for this "punk" to do his next step, you can turn your domain active and just start to fill it up with some content. just put anything, but nothing related to his business.

if he want's war, then just go out on google and search for porn pages. then try to collect as much port banners and that kind of things and then fill your homepage with them. this will hurt him! imagine all the customers tying the address into the browser and then getting this porn stuff?

or open an account on ebay and then try to sell the domain there!



cheers

SteveB
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KingTaco
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

it doesn't matter one bit if you bought it legally or not, they can take legal action which will consume a lot of your time and your money. if they take you to court, a judge could order you to transfer the domain, and the company would only have to pay costs. also, the fact that the domain has been parked and inactive can influnce the judge in the favor of the company. Concidering that you arn't using the domain, why not sell it to the company. I'd imagine that you could make a get a nice chunk of cash for it.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

steveb wrote:
phuuuu.... i hear so many things happening with court in america, that i can not give you any help.

in my country (i am from switzerland), the thing is like this: if you registred the domain before he registred his company, then he can do nothing against your domain.

what i would do in your position: i would check out, how long the company exists and based on that info i would then judge what to do.

if the domain is not important to you and this "punk" (i like the expression) is going on your nerves, then don't sell him the domain! instead of that, transfere it to someone outside of america!

and while waiting for this "punk" to do his next step, you can turn your domain active and just start to fill it up with some content. just put anything, but nothing related to his business.

if he want's war, then just go out on google and search for porn pages. then try to collect as much port banners and that kind of things and then fill your homepage with them. this will hurt him! imagine all the customers tying the address into the browser and then getting this porn stuff?

or open an account on ebay and then try to sell the domain there!



cheers

SteveB


activily hurting the domain like that could result in legal action. it could be concidered slander or something like that.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

These are both great points.

Considering the source, I consider the eMail pretty rude. The guy obviously knows I'm a college kid, and being one himself, he's just looking for a fight.

I don't think, according to what I read, that the guy would consider "buying" the domain. If I were to eMail the person back and say, "Hey, I'll sell it to you for $5000" or whatever, he/they'd simply threaten a lawsuit, claiming infringement, etc.

I checked the company out -- they have been a "company" since 2001. I bought the domain about a year ago, maybe slightly less. The reality is this: if the person had wanted that domain when they began the company, they could have bought it; I wasn't even interested in buying domains 3 years ago.

What bothers me a lot about this whole ordeal is this: my old friend is involved in this.

Thinking about this for only a few minutes, I'm seriously considering two options:

One -- I can eMail the person back and play dumb. "I don't own this domain. Sorry, you got the wrong person."

Two -- I can ask a friend of mine who lives in Canada to take ownership of the domain. He's a cool guy, I trust him, and I think he's make good use of the domain then.

So this begs a question: if I transfer the ownership of the domaint to this friend of mine in Canada, what would my role in this whole situation be at that point? Especially if the dumb punk wants to persue it to court.

btw -- I think the guy should shove it. I mean, freggin' common here. He's pickin' a fight.

One last thing: I've seen lots of websites that are owned by companies that users aren't expecting. I can't think of any examples off of the top of my head, but I know I've typed a URL before and thought, "Humm, this isn't what I was looking for." What's the deal there?

Further thoughts/ideas appreciated.

(so far the news is turning out far more grim than I expected)
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steveb
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KingTaco wrote:
it doesn't matter one bit if you bought it legally or not, they can take legal action which will consume a lot of your time and your money. if they take you to court, a judge could order you to transfer the domain, and the company would only have to pay costs. also, the fact that the domain has been parked and inactive can influnce the judge in the favor of the company. Concidering that you arn't using the domain, why not sell it to the company. I'd imagine that you could make a get a nice chunk of cash for it.
what wicked system! sorry!

anyway... i have found this info about domain names in america.

after reading that: DON'T sell the domain. talk to an lawyer first!

cheers

SteveB
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

playing the dumb will be hard, if you are listed in the who-is record. check first out if your name is there: BetterWhois

cheers

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man...lawyer?

$! I don't have that. I'm a poor college student...

This is freggin' nuts. How do I know for a fact that the name of their company has a trademark?
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steveb
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KingTaco wrote:
activily hurting the domain like that could result in legal action. it could be concidered slander or something like that.


transfer me the domain! i will put an nice site up with stuff written in cyrilc (yes! i can write and read cyrilic) and i could transfer the domain to an slavic country (yugoslavia, russia, bulgaria or somewher there). and i can tell you, that this guy will have an hard time to bring anyone from there to an court!

cheers

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If they have a registered trademark on the name you are probably pretty screwed. Depending on how badly they want it they can make it expensive for you to retain it, and possibly you would end up in court where you probably will lose it.

The best thing to do would be to talk to a lawyer that has dealt with such things before, or sell the name to a broker, because then it would not be your problem any more.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CrashPat wrote:
If they have a registered trademark on the name you are probably pretty screwed. Depending on how badly they want it they can make it expensive for you to retain it, and possibly you would end up in court where you probably will lose it.

The best thing to do would be to talk to a lawyer that has dealt with such things before, or sell the name to a broker, because then it would not be your problem any more.


yes! an broker! this is an grat idea!

cheers

SteveB
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ask them exactly which part of the trademark/copyright laws you are infringing. If they refuse to answer, say something like "because of your refusal to state my infrigements I am inclined to disbelieve the accuracy of your claim" or something like that. If they answer something, check it out just in case here.

Does the company know your name? If not then changing your email address might (temporarily) stop them and give you some time to think some more about it...

You could try meeting your old friend and making him really drunk :D

Anyway, good luck.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well...

I searched the Trademark offices, nothin'. The guy owns a Trademark to a certain name, but not the name of my domain. Plus, he registered the trademark recently, so any activity now as far as registering trademarks, I take it, would be nullified as I have owned the domain for long enough.

:D


I'll probably talk to a lawyer at my university. I'm sure they could offer some suggestions.

For the time being, if anybody else has anything else to add, then feel free. :D

Thanks.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sell it to someone in Iran, or even better, China !
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with what people have said, if you're not using it anyway, you should either give it up or sell it to someone in a foreign country. I don't think it is worth the trouble of facing court, even if you are right.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've heard of these before. They basically lie and threaten you with a lawsuit saying you infringed on their copyright, and only wish to buy the domain to sell it to another person at a higher price
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well...

Few things. As I have mentioned before, I checked the US Trademark Office, and after having completed a bunch of searches, I am yet to find this guy owning the Trademark to the name. Even if he *does* add a Trademark now, what good would it do him? The guy probably isn't stupid enough to think that adding a Trademark after I created the domain will not do anything to my right to the domain.

Secondly, selling it to someone in another country isn't a bad idea. I actually had a chat with my friend who lives in Canada and he said he'd take the domain. I guess I'm left to ask this: what precisely does transfering or "giving" a domain up mean? I mean, I can go into my registrar's website and change all the info on the administrative contact, technical contact, etc., but technically I still "own" the domain if I can log in and change everything.

Plus, the guy's in Canada, does that mean he can't be sued?

Who knows. I'll go talk to a lawyer tomorrow. I think the guy is bluffing. The more I think about it, the less I think he'd do anything. He's just a stupid college punk out to try to get my domain. If he keeps writing me threatening eMails, I'll sue him back for harrassment.

Either way, I really appreciate the thoughts and ideas. If anybody else has anything to add or wants to reply to this, feel free. I certainly am all ears. :)
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't forget to check out the limitations of a trademark. Most times, they're limited to the state where the business is. I also remember a story in a readers digest about a woman going through this kind of hasle due to a new business that did the same thing. Best bet is contest the trademark or notify the commission of your own intrest before it has a chance to go through. That should buy you some time and give you a leagle edge.
IIRC, there was a lot of threads and web-pages that had to do with people "sitting" on a domain name for profit. Although most of them were against it, it may help give you some info on where it led. I believe the practice is still done and that even the big companies have had difficulty in obtaining the rights. Internet law is very different as opposed to if you opened a business of the same name down the street.
One other thought, if this "punk", (had to say it for steveb), is also a college kid, his assets to bring a strong litigation against you are going to be somewhat limited as well. Do a little more research into the company and find out what he's really worth.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

give http://taubmansucks.com/ a read
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure of the legalities and complexities of US law but regardless of that, if that email is a copy and paste then i'd start doing some checks on it as the grammatical accuracy is negligible and may indicate the mail as having come from an amateur purely to scare you. Without wishing to be too pedantic, punctuation is missing, capital letters where not required, conjunctions missing, not to mention the sentence structure is completely lacking as well, etc, etc. As I say, I don't like to be a pedant but if there's one thing lawyers are renowned for it's accurate grammar. Mistakes cost them.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lisa wrote:
give http://taubmansucks.com/ a read


Holy freggin' cow...

This is insane. The read is interesting -- I got to about Act 40. Then I finally stopped and went to read the condensed version. The guy obviousy had a lot of time and put a lot of effort into this to win it. I'm very proud for him, as he was getting bullied around by a few lawyers. He stood up for himself and won...but chances are, with the little time I have to do *anything,* a court case would be a huge blow to my academics, etc.

Certainly a good read. Unfortunately, bad news for me...
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Ennead wrote:
I'm not sure of the legalities and complexities of US law but regardless of that, if that email is a copy and paste then i'd start doing some checks on it as the grammatical accuracy is negligible and may indicate the mail as having come from an amateur purely to scare you. Without wishing to be too pedantic, punctuation is missing, capital letters where not required, conjunctions missing, not to mention the sentence structure is completely lacking as well, etc, etc. As I say, I don't like to be a pedant but if there's one thing lawyers are renowned for it's accurate grammar. Mistakes cost them.


Yes...that was definately a copy verbatim.

I agree with your sentiments. The eMail was quite poorly written. It was, in my opinion, "threatening." I know the people who own the business are college students -- it's obvious from looking at their pictures in the "Our Staff" portion of their website...

This is one of the reasons I was not so concerned -- until I read the above website -- about a lawsuit. College kids don't really have a lot of money to go to court over a stupid domain name. I know that if the person showed me proof of a Trademark which was created before I registered the domain name, I would simply drop the whole thing and give him the freggin' domain. It's really not that "great" anyways -- but it is mine...and at the moment I feel compelled to tell him to show me proof or shut the heck up...

:D

The guy needs to stop shooting off threatening eMails and focus on his English studies. :)
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Quote:
Dear Sir/Madam,

Our agents have been interested in purchasing Control and power of [enter my domain name here] for some time now from you now we are finally in a position in about 30 days to no longer ask you nicely to transfer ownership but you will be in violation of State, City and International Trademarks and Copyrights.
Why don't they put specific dates? Instances of contact? Which specific laws you're breaking? A real letter from lawyers (or even someone who had consulted lawyers) would specify which law / statute / code you were in violation of as well some form of contacts for their lawyers in case you wanted to settle / tell them to bring it on.

Quote:

We ask that you please work with us to bring this issue to a peaceful resolve but if necessary we will seek legal action you on the charge of infringement of a Trademark and over 8 Copyrights, thank you for your prompt response.

Sincerely,
[title of their business]

Why are they asking you to settle peacefully if they only have to wait for 30 days before it's technically theirs anyway? Again, they provide no specifics on where you're infringing and which copyrights you've breached. This stinks of a scam...
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Celtis wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
Dear Sir/Madam,

Our agents have been interested in purchasing Control and power of [enter my domain name here] for some time now from you now we are finally in a position in about 30 days to no longer ask you nicely to transfer ownership but you will be in violation of State, City and International Trademarks and Copyrights.
Why don't they put specific dates? Instances of contact? Which specific laws you're breaking? A real letter from lawyers (or even someone who had consulted lawyers) would specify which law / statute / code you were in violation of as well some form of contacts for their lawyers in case you wanted to settle / tell them to bring it on.

Quote:

We ask that you please work with us to bring this issue to a peaceful resolve but if necessary we will seek legal action you on the charge of infringement of a Trademark and over 8 Copyrights, thank you for your prompt response.

Sincerely,
[title of their business]

Why are they asking you to settle peacefully if they only have to wait for 30 days before it's technically theirs anyway? Again, they provide no specifics on where you're infringing and which copyrights you've breached. This stinks of a scam...


Well, I'm not sure I'd say *scam*...but it certainly is a bunch of college kids trying to scare me out of what I own.

I agree with all of your sentiments. They provide no details, no facts, no nothin'!

It certainly didn't come from a law firm. Plus, a law firm would have put it on paper and sent me a letter to my house...

Question for those who might know: a NAME (such as a domain name, company name, etc.) is registered so that someone "owns" it with a TRADEMARK, right? A copyright, as far as I know, is for art, products, writing, etc., but can not protect someone's "name" or company name, correct?
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found another current instance of this going on which you may feel comforting at the following link.
http://www.applefritter.com/node/view/1732
Most specifically the following quote from that thread.

[quote="Jon"]
Quote:
Quote:
FWIL in Bus. Law, they can't
FWIL in Bus. Law, they can’t have a case unless they can prove infringement, dilution, or some other form of harm to their mark. Stealth is a very common word, Google gave me results on 2.5 million hits, and half a dozen .coms with stealth in their domain name. I’m wondering if they sent letters to all of them. Furthermore, they have to prove that you took their mark AFTER they began to use it to prove that you are infringing on them. If their use came after yours, you could use htat fact to upset any “prior art” clauses (the patent office uses such a clause). They can’t ignore your site in the prior art clause, and THEN go after you when they get the rights to the mark and claim infringement. IANAL, but they have no case.

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