Former Oasis lead guitarist Noel Gallagher reportedly bought the domain name noelgallagher.com from a squatter in exchange for band memorabilia and free gig tickets.
According to British tabloid The Sun:
The former OASIS star found out recently that a cunning punter in Barcelona had snapped up the domain name noelgallagher.com ten years ago.
And The Chief’s plans to get things in order for his solo career were being held up by the Barca Bandit – because he was demanding a small fortune to hand it back.
Noel took matters into his own hands last week. He paid for the Spaniard to fly to London, put him up in a plush hotel and met him in person to thunder out a deal.
And after some serious haggling, and a few Oasis anecdotes, the chancer changed his demands from tens of thousands of pounds – to some signed memorabilia and guest list action at Noel’s next solo gigs.
I’m not sure how much success Oasis ever had outside of the UK. If you’ve never heard of them: briefly here in the 1990s they were regarded by some (mainly themselves) as the second coming of The Beatles.
I’ve never before seen a domain name story reported in The Sun, a notoriously unreliable but hugely popular Murdoch-owned daily rag, so I did a bit of fact-checking.
Whois history shows that the original registrant was from Madrid, not Barcelona, and that the domain was initially registered in 2002.
While the report claims Gallagher flew the squattter to London to negotiate the deal “last week”, the domain actually seems to have been owned by someone at Oasis’s record label since March 2010.
So either the cybersquatter got a free city break, or The Sun is — shockingly — reporting unreliable celebrity news.
The domain name does not currently resolve.
If you’re fighting off a bogus UDRP complaint on one of your domain names, the onus is on you to prove that you have “rights and legitimate interests” in the domain.
That could be tricky, especially if you think you may been assigned a panelist with a pro-complainant bent, but there may be some ways to mitigate the risk of losing your domain.
Take this recent case, for example: PissedConsumer.com versus ThePissedOffConsumer.com.
The panelist determined that the registrant of ThePissedOffConsumer.com had no “rights and legitimate interests”on the grounds that a) it was competing with the complainant, b) the web site used the same color (red) as the complainant and c) the registrant was not known by the domain.
Ignoring the first two (highly debatable) findings, let’s look at c). The panelist wrote:
Complainant alleges that Respondent has never used a company name “The Pissed-Off Consumer” in connection with operation of any business activities. The WHOIS information for the disputed domain name lists the registrant of the domain as “John Cross.”
The Panel finds, based on the evidence in the record, that Respondent is not commonly known by the disputed domain name, and as such lacks rights and legitimate interests in the said name
In other words, because Whois showed the name of the registrant, rather than the name of the domain, the registrant was not “commonly known” as the domain and lacked rights.
To add insult to injury, the complainant was assumed to have earned the right to the mark “Pissed Consumer” before it had officially acquired a trademark (and before the disputed domain was registered) simply by virtue of operating PissedConsumer.com, despite the fact that it hides behind Whois privacy and is called Consumer Opinion Corp.
Presumably, if Cross had simply added the text “ThePissedOffConsumer” to his Whois record, the panelist would have had one less data point “in the record” to justify his finding.
In fringe UDRP cases, that could prove a useful defensive tactic.
The World Intellectual Property Organization has handed the domain name TorrentReactor.com to the owner of TorrentReactor.net, one of the internet’s most-popular BitTorrent movie piracy sites.
TorrentReactor.net owner Alexey Kistenev filed a UDRP complaint over the .com version with WIPO last year and won it earlier this month.
It was actually the second time he had taken the domain to arbitration.
Kistenev’s first complaint was dismissed by WIPO in March 2009, on the grounds that he did not have a valid trademark.
A month later, he applied for a US trademark on “TorrentReactor”, which was granted in July last year, and the UDRP was refiled in October.
In the latest case, Kistenev was helped by not only the fact that he now owns the trademark but also the fact that the domain has changed hands since the original complaint.
I wonder how much the current owner paid. In 2008, the then-owner had tried to sell it to Kistenev for $150,000. When he countered with a $30,000 offer, the owner asked for $50,000.
TorrentReactor.net is a page-one Google hit for searches including [torrent movies] and [torrent music].
Its front page contains links to torrents of recent, copyrighted movies such as The Social Network, Red and Let Me In, as well as new software, TV shows and music.
What we seem to have here is a case of WIPO indirectly helping piracy.
I guess it shows that WIPO arbitration panels can apply the UDRP uniformly when they want to.
Energy drink maker Red Bull has filed a UDRP complaint over the domain name red-bull.com, which until recently it actually owned.
It’s moderately embarrassing, but not unheard of, for companies to turn to the UDRP after domains they allow to expire are then snapped up by squatters.
What makes the complaint unusual is that the domain red-bull.com is not an obscure fringe case – it’s virtually identical to the company’s trademark and to its primary domain, redbull.com.
Also, according to Whois records, Red Bull also appears to use MarkMonitor, the brand-protection registrar, for its domain name needs.
Whois history shows that Red Bull acquired the domain in about 2005, but allowed it to expire in September 2010, after which it was quickly acquired by a third party.
Did Red Bull deliberately allow it to expire? There’s a case to be made for rationalizing defensive registration portfolios to reduce costs, but this domain would seem (to me) to be a definite keeper.
MarkMonitor has a policy of declining to comment on clients, which it chose to exercise when I inquired.
The domain red-bull.com currently resolves to what can only be described as a splog. It shows up on page two of Google for the search [red bull], which may go some way to explaining the UDRP.
Red Bull acquired red-bull.net, red-bull.cc and red-bull.tv via UDRP proceedings between 2001 and 2004, but has since allowed all three, as well as the .org, which it also owned, to expire.
The .tv and .net versions are currently parked, meaning they don’t rank so well in search engines.
It’s not the first odd UDRP Red Bull has filed. Last year, it lost a UDRP complaint despite winning a court case over the same domain name, as I reported in June.
Go Daddy has filed a UDRP complaint against a web hosting company that uses a similar brand to sell domain names, maddogwebhosting.com.
The domain appears to have been used by a small-time hosting reseller for about two years. Its mailing address is a flat in south London.
But Go Daddy subsidiary Mad Dog Domains, which also sells hosting, has been around for longer and appears to have a trademark on its brand.
It’s not really an open-and-shut case by UDRP standards, given that Mad Dog Web Hosting appears to be a legitimate site, but I suspect Go Daddy has a reasonably good chance of prevailing.
We’ll have to wait for the ruling to be made and published by WIPO to find out the full details.