Lego has now filed more complaints against cybersquatters than Microsoft.
The maker of the popular building block toys has filed 236 cases using the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy since 2006, the vast majority of them since July 2009.
That’s one more than Microsoft, about 50 more than Google and twice as many as Viagra maker Pfizer.
Lego has been particularly aggressive recently. As I’ve previously blogged, Lego lately files a UDRP complaint on average every three days.
The company is usually represented in these cases by Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services, the online trademark enforcement arm of the Aussie registrar.
The 236 cases equates to over $350,000 in WIPO fees alone. I’d be surprised if Lego has spent less than $1 million on UDRP cases over the last few years.
Lego has annual revenue of about $1.8 billion.
It has never lost a case. The company either wins the dispute, or the complaint is terminated before a finding is made.
It’s picked up some oddities along the way, notably including legogiraffepenis.com and legoporn.com.
Yet Lego does not appear to have the most UDRP cases under its belt. I believe that honor may go to AOL, which has filed at least 277 cases over the last decade.
The collection of DNS experts opposing the Protect IP Act today held a press conference to outline exactly why the proposed US piracy protection legislation is dangerous.
Protect IP, currently making its may through Congress, would force ISPs to intercept and redirect domain name look-ups for proscribed piracy sites.
It’s the latest in a series of attempts by the IP lobby to push through legislation aimed at curbing the widespread bootlegging of digital content such as music and movies.
But ICANN chair Steve Crocker, DNS uber-hacker Dan Kaminsky, David Dagon of Georgia Tech, VeriSign’s Danny McPherson and BIND supremo Paul Vixie all think the Act will have unintended and dangerous consequences.
They published a white paper explaining their concerns in May, which I wrote about here, and today ramped up the campaign by talking to reporters in Washington, DC.
Here’s the problem as they see it:
Today, the vast majority of internet users take the default DNS service from their ISP. Usually, the servers are configured automatically when you’re installing the ISP’s software.
Many users are also aware of alternative DNS providers such as Google and OpenDNS. Whatever you think of these services, you can be pretty confident they’re not out to steal your identity.
What Crocker et al are worried about is that content pirates will set up services similar to OpenDNS in order to enable users to visit domains that are blocked by Protect IP in their country.
Users can configure such a service in just 30 seconds, with a single click, the experts said. If they want access to the latest movies and music, they may do so without considering the consequences.
But if you sign up to use a DNS server provided by a bunch of movie pirates, you don’t necessarily have the same reassurances you have with OpenDNS or Google.
You’re basically signing up to pass all your domain name look-up data to proven rogues, what Kaminsky referred to during the press conference as “unambiguously bad guys”.
These bad guys may well direct you to the correct server for the Pirate Bay, but they may also hand you over to a spoof web site when you try to visit your bank.
You’ll think you’re looking at your bank’s site, and your computer will think it got a genuine IP address in response to its DNS query, but you’re really handing your login credentials to a crook.
DNS blocking already takes place with respect to content such as child pornography, of course, but it has not to date created a huge reaction with millions of users taking their DNS overseas.
“The scale of the reaction is what we fear,” Kaminsky said. Vixie added: “To the extent that the content is extremely popular the bypass mechanisms will also be popular.”
The measures proposed by Protect IP would also break DNSSEC, but that’s still pretty much pie-in-the-sky stuff, so the press conference did not spend much time focusing on that.
The lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret has won a cybersquatting complaint over the domain name victoriasecretswimsuit.com for the second time in as many years.
Judging by the Whois history, it appears that the company lost the domain following the demise of rogue registrar Lead Networks, which lost its accreditation last year.
Victoria’s Secret first secured the domain with an easily won UDRP complaint in May 2009.
An attorney from its outside law firm was subsequently listed as the admin contact, but the registrar of record remained the same – the Indian outfit Lead Networks.
At some time between August and October last year, the Whois contact changed to the current registrant, who’s hiding behind a privacy service.
Probably not coincidentally, that was about the same time as ICANN, having terminated Lead Networks’ accreditation, bulk-transferred all of its domains to Answerable.com.
Lead Networks was placed into receivership in March 2010 following a cybersquatting lawsuit filed by Verizon.
Answerable.com, a Directi business also based in India, was the registrar’s designated successor under ICANN’s policies. It has subsequently changed its name to BigRock.com.
The latest UDRP decision does not explain how Victoria’s Secret managed to lose its registration, but I’d speculate the inter-registrar transfer may have had something to do with it.
When a registrar loses its accreditation the names are transferred to a new registrar but the term of the registration is not extended. If a registrant ignores or does not receive the notifications sent by the gaining registar, they may find they lose their domains.
People who register .com or .net domain names to conduct illegal activity risk extradition to the United States because the domains are managed by an American company.
That’s the startling line reportedly coming from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which is trying to have the British operator of TVShack.net shipped out to stand trial in the US.
According to reports, 22-year-old student Richard O’Dwyer is fighting extradition to face charges of criminal copyright infringement.
ICE assistant deputy director Erik Barnett told The Guardian that any overseas web site using a .com or .net address to spread pirated material is a legitimate target for prosecution in the States.
The agency has already started shutting down .com and .net sites by seizing their domains, even if the sites in question had been found legal in their own overseas jurisdictions.
It does so by serving a court order to VeriSign, the registry manager, which is based in Virginia. The company is of course obliged to obey the order.
TVShack.net provided links to bootleg movies and TV shows, rather than hosting the content itself. It appears to be a matter of some confusion in the UK whether that behavior is actually illegal or not.
The site reportedly was hosted outside the US, and O’Dwyer never visited the US. The only link was the domain name.
I’m British, but DI is a .com, so I’d like to exercise my (presumed conferred) First Amendment rights to call this scenario utterly insane.
The issue of legal jurisdiction, incidentally, is one that potential new gTLD applicants need to keep in mind when selecting a back-end registry services provider.
Most incumbent providers are based in the US, and while we’ve seen plenty of upstarts emerge in Europe, Asia and Australia, some of those nations sometimes have pretty crazy laws too.
Three lawyers have failed to win cybersquatting complaints against a blogger who registered domains matching their personal names in order to criticize them.
Self-professed “investigative blogger” Crystal Cox registered josephleccese.com, allenfagin.com and greggmashberg.com last October, in order to publish a handful of unreadable and potentially defamatory blog posts alleging various forms of criminality.
The three men do not hold registered trademarks matching their names, so were forced to rely upon various awards they have won and media appearances they have made to show common law rights.
All three have apparently been named “Super Lawyers” by something called New York Super Lawyers, for example.
But the three-person WIPO panel which heard all three cases found, in virtually identical decisions, that the lawyers had failed to acquire common law trademark rights to their names.
The decisions read:
The record before the Panel suggests that Complainant is a highly respected, prominent lawyer who is a partner with a major law firm. There is insufficient evidence here that Complainant markets or provides services independently of the Proskauer law firm. Rather, it appears that the Proskauer firm is the platform on which Complainant provides his legal services.
It’s not unusual for a celebrity or public figure to win a UDRP complaint on the basis of their fame, but it appears in this case that the complainants were just not famous enough.