Cybersquatting: Sinister or Simply Good Business?
By Stephen M. Lawton
a great deal of debate these days over cybersquatting the act of
registering a domain name and then later selling it for a profit. But
is cybersquatting the evil that some celebrities, organizations and companies
say it is, or is it simply their bad luck not to have had the foresight
to register their own domain when they could, allowing some more enterprising
individual the opportunity to make a profit?
This was brought home to me recently
when I decided that it was time to sell one of three domain names that
I own. I have been using this name for more than five years not
for a Web site but rather for one of my personal e-mail addresses. I posted
it on one of the services that resells names, but then thought about calling
several companies that use this four-letter acronym as part of their name.
My thought was that they would be ideal candidates for this domain name,
but I hesitated to contact them for fear that one of them would think
it less expensive to sue me than to buy it.
This is a curious dilemma that, I'm
sure, others have faced. On August 4, MicroTimes.com ran a story about
Uzi Nissan, an Israeli-American born in Jerusalem who registered the domain
name nissan.com in May 1994. He created a site to expand his Raleigh,
NC-based computer business, the Nissan Computer Corp. that he started
in 1991. On Dec. 10, 1999, Nissan, the carmaker, sued in a California
district court for trademark dilution and domain name piracy. Nissan,
the person, estimated his legal costs reached $1 million. "It's my
legal last name, after all, and they have no right to it. I feel like
David against the Japanese Goliath," Mr. Nissan stated.
I got to thinking about this and decided
to pop over to GreatDomains.com, one of the sites that resells domain
names. There, you can find a good variety, ranging from the obvious, such
as bestdeal.com or visual.com to the obscure, such as iKB.net or qzzk.com.
(qzzk.com is listed for sale at $100,000. Wow.)
But what about those with names that
are close to a business's name? Will the owner of ACEU.com get a nastygram
from the lawyers of the Air Corporation Employees Union in India? How
about the Colombiana de Estudiantes Universitarios, which is Colombia's
national association of university students, which uses ACEU as its acronym?
In this litigious society, where corporations
and individuals alike expect instant gratification or they'll call their
lawyers, I fear we could be in for some unpleasantness.
What the heck anyone want to
buy a domain name?