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Anyone experienced in internet domain law?

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biophase

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I am getting sued for a domain name that I have. I need to get some opinions on this one.

Here is a broad example of what has happened.

I bought a condo from a developer who named the building, say the developer is ABC, Inc. and he named the building ABCwhatever. The name of the building is well known in the neighborhood. So I got the domain name ABCcondos.com. I created a website using the domain name to rent out my condo. I rented out my condo and the domain name sat there doing nothing, so I made it into a classified site where other condo owners can post their for rent ads. One day I stuck Google Adsense on there.

So now ABC developer wants the domain name. They say I am completing with them in real estate sales and rental. They also say I'm conducting business using their name because the ads generate revenue.

I have no problem taking down the ads and removing the classified site. After all, it was basically a goodwill free site. My problem is them wanting the domain name. I feel that as a condo owner in that building I have to be able promote my rental condo. I can't imagine not being able to mention the building name if I'm trying to rent it.
 
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MJ DeMarco

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1) I'm not a lawyer
2) I have some experience in domain issues
3) Not knowing the exact name of your condo building doesn't help ... however

I don't think they can win a claim because you can't trademark generic domains.

For example, if you live in "KierlandCondos.com" -- the terms describe a generic and therefore cannot be protected. Sure they can sue you, scare you, and cost you money, but I don't think they can win.

I get attorney letters all the time with threats -- however, they are empty threats and unwinnable claims - a return letter from my attorney typically shuts them up. For example, I had an attorney send me a cease and desist letter because I was actively bidding on Google keywords "Atlanta Widgets" - the asshats tried to claim that I was infringing on their client because their client chose to name their company "Atlanta Widgets" - my attorney countered that generic terms are not protected under trademark law. Never heard back.

Even if the condo was named "MiradaCondos.com" - they still can't recover because how many Mirada condo complexes exist nationwide? Probably dozens.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Similarly I think the owner of Southwest.com held out for years -- the domain couldn't be grabbed because the term "Southwest" is generic and SW Airlines had no claim on it.

Conversely, they claimed against "SouthwestAirfare.com" and won -- however, the defendent was misleading clients and was not acting on good faith. It seems you are.

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1]The Complainant annexes at Annex H to the Complaint copies of the "vipfares.com" website showing the pages linked by the use of the domain name the subject of the current dispute. The Complainant submits that since the only use of the domain name is to divert consumers to the "Vipfares.com" website which is in direct competition to Southwest Airlines that this shows that there is no legitimate right on the part of the Respondent to the domain name. The Panel accepts this submission in the absence of evidence from the Respondent of a legitimate right to use the domain name.

Full story:[/SIZE][/FONT]

http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/decisions/html/2003/d2003-0861.html
 

MJ DeMarco

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Andrew

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Aug 8, 2007
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Unless they have a trademark on the name, they will probably lose, as long as you respond to the issue.

When I had a domain name issue I asked Ron Jackson, the editor of DNJournal.com, for recommendations and he suggested ari @ esqwire.com or john @ johnberryhill.com. The issue ended up being resolved, so I never needed to use a lawyer.
 

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