Lawyers for the International Olympic Committee have released a list of hundreds of domain names allegedly cybersquatting the Olympic trademark, all registered in just a couple of weeks.
But as well as showing that there are hundreds of idiots out there, the list also sheds light on substantial numbers of apparently legitimate uses of the word “olympic” by small businesses.
The insight comes from two weekly zone file monitoring reports, compiled for the IOC by Thomson Compumark, which were circulated to an ICANN working group this week.
There are about 300 domains on the lists. At first glance, it looks like the IOC has a serious problem on its hands.
According to IOC outside counsel Jim Bikoff:
These unauthorized registrations–often for pornographic, phishing, gambling or parked sites–dilute and tarnish the Olympic trademarks, and attempt to exploit for commercial gain the good will created by the Olympic Movement. The unauthorized domains already oblige the IOC and its National Olympic Committees to expend significant amounts of time and money on monitoring and enforcement activities.
Based on a perusal of the lists and a non-exhaustive, non-scientific sampling of the sites the domains lead to, I’d say a comfortable majority are fairly straightforward cases of bad faith.
I couldn’t find any porn or phishing, but most of the domains I checked either do not resolve or resolve to placeholder or parking pages. If they resolved to a developed site, it was usually a splog.
However, a non-trivial minority of the domains are being used by apparently legitimate small businesses that have absolutely no connection to sports whatsoever.
These are domains all apparently registered in the same week, and all appear to be kosher uses of domain names (though the logo choice at olympicpromotions.info is just begging for trouble).
A fair number of the domains on the list appear to be re-registrations of domains that have previously expired, judging by historical Whois records.
One would imagine that if there was value in cybersquatting a nice-looking domain such as 2012olympicstickets.com, for example, the former squatter probably wouldn’t have let it go.
Perhaps the “best” typo I found on the list, ollympics.com, is registered to a British guy called Olly. Assuming that’s his actual name, it seems like pretty good evidence of good faith.
The IOC, incidentally, has only ever filed 15 UDRP cases, on average fewer than two per year, so claims about spending “significant amounts” on enforcement are questionable.