[rumori] AOL.COM sues for AOL.ORG

From: Every Man (every.manATpressthebutton.com)
Date: Wed Mar 07 2001 - 10:59:41 PST

Date: Wed, 7 Mar 2001 09:18:57 -0600
From: "Doane, Andrew" <andrew.doaneATdotspot.com>
Subject: An example of reverse-hijack (was: new.net: yet another dns names
pace overlay play)
To: 'Scott Gifford' <sgiffordATtir.com>
Cc: "'nanogATmerit.edu'" <nanogATmerit.edu>
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I registered "aol.org" in 1995. It stood for "Andy On-Line" (my name). I
used it for almost five years without any problems from America Online,
mainly for email and to ftp back into my home network, etc. I did not have
a website up.

America Online sued and won a judgment without even my being present. They
stated that it violated their trademark of "AOL", as they had used it first
in commerce. They used the fact that I had no web site at www.aol.org to
justify this claim, ignoring the fact that their was an MX record and some
other A records.

A few "interesting facts":

1. In 1995, even if America On-Line wanted to registered .org they couldn't.
Back then the rules were followed, and .org was for "private organizations
and individuals". I registered it as an individual for non-commerce use.
So their argument that they used it in commerce first is moot - as a .org
domain you weren't supposed to.

2. America Online just recently acquired the right to protect "AOL" from the
courts. Traditionally speaking, initials cannot be trademarked. If a
company reaches "household word" status then they can get protection. IBM
and GM would be examples. In 1995 when I registered aol.org, America Online
did NOT have this protection.

3. Network solutions suspended the domain without warning by request of
America On-Line. My phone calls to network solutions resulted in "call this
person", which turned out to be America On-Line's attorneys. NS did this
before America Online had received a judgment from the court.

4. Network Solutions and America Online claim they tried to reach me. They
didn't. The address on WHOIS was wrong, however the email addresses and
phone numbers were valid. Very convenient for them. However, the
automatically generated renewal notice that I needed to pay my $35/year fee
from NS made it to me. Funny, eh?

5. I hired an attorney to fight it, not because I wanted cash out on America
Online (in fact, I didn't ask for this - I just wanted my personal domain
back that I had been using for almost 5 years without issue). The net
result was it would have cost me a mint to fight it against a multi-billion
dollar company with endless resources. I caved and just let them have it.

To date, they have not used it. They blackholed the domain. Someone
explain the point in that. Obviously they felt people could confuse
"aol.com" and "aol.org". So much so that they pointed www.aol.org to
www.aol.com? No. So much that they put in MX records so email accidentally
sent to joeuserATaol.org got delivered or at least a response back to the
person who sent the email that they have the email address wrong? No.

Big business wins against the individual by manipulating our government to
draft legislation in their favor and then using it after the fact.

There's your example.

NOT andyATaol.org

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Gifford [mailto:sgiffordATtir.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2001 3:16 AM
To: William Allen Simpson
Cc: nanogATmerit.edu
Subject: Re: new.net: yet another dns namespace overlay play

William Allen Simpson <wsimpsonATgreendragon.com> writes:

> Patrick Greenwell wrote:
> >
> > On Tue, 6 Mar 2001, Paul A Vixie wrote:
> > > ICANN's prospective failure is evidently in the mind of the beholder.
> >
> > Besides producing a UDRP that allows trademark interests to convienently
> > reverse-hijack domains
> Awhile back, somebody made a similar accusation. So, I spent the
> better part of a weekend reviewing a selection of UDRP decisions.
> Quite frankly, I didn't find a single one that seemed badly reasoned.
> Could someone point to a "reverse-hijacked" domain decision?

Assuming that I'm correctly understanding what is meant by
"reverse-hijacked", the most notorious case I'm aware of is
"walmartsucks.com". This domain was taken from an owner serving up
criticism of Wal-Mart, and given to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart apparently
claimed that this domain name was so similar to their actual
trademark, customers could be confused into visiting the wrong site,
and ICANN somehow agreed.

I don't know where the official ICANN ruling is on this, but I recall
seeing it discussed in a number of places at the time. Let me know if
you can't find a reference, and I'll see if I can dig one up.


Every Man every.manATpressthebutton.com
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