“They came for the Communists, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Communist… They came for the Jews, and I didn’t object – For I wasn’t a Jew…
Then they came for me – And there
was no one left to object….”
-Martin Niemoller, German Protestant Pastor, 1892-1984-
A new, dangerous trend has hit Corporate America. Companies like e-Toys, Hasbro and Mattel take WebMasters to court on flimsy “Trademark Infringement” cases in order to hoard and monopolize domain names. It’s called “Reverse Domain Hijacking“.
Those daring enough to refute these charges, exhaust their life savings against these Corporate Monoliths, only to have the cases appealed. The judge then orders these men and women to surrender their domain names; Names that they paid for and interNIC entered a legal agreement when they said they can have it!
E-Toys has recently started a new “Shot Heard ‘Round The World“. In a recent court victory, E-Toys crushed www.etoy.com, a site established before them, has angered viewers all over CyberTown.
Web Developers and concerened Citizens have formed www.etoys-sucks.com calling on a boycott of e-toys, and sending out a message to the money makers and the corporate giants: “We’re mad as hell & not going to take it anymore!!!!”
It’s time we take the web back…before it happens to us!
Once upon a time…
The web was a happy place. People communicated to distant relatives, established a page, put up pictures. They found friends and relatives they thought long lost. They met people and made friends from around the world that they never would have met otherwise.
The web made all of us feel good.
College kids and entrepreneurs made the American Dream come alive again, as people started their businesses from out of their bedrooms and garages; using the new technology, services and products were made available to the public on a global scale.
I, too, made a living helping these good people achieve the American Dream by establishing their presence on the web.
We were all happy little guppies in the sea of tranquility.
Then the sharks moved in.
The corporations looked at the web and said…”Wow. Are people really willing to hand over their credit cards online???” So they set up their sites, bought hundreds of domain names.
Nothing wrong with that, so far. With the web, the pie is big enough for everyone.
Then they started playing dirty….
Case#1 Hasbro vs. Clue Computing
Wanting domain names for each of their products was all fine and good (monopoly.com, etc)…that is, until they found www.clue.com
was already taken. Hasbro sued The Clue Computing Company for
the domain, claiming they own the rights to that name (remember that, next time
you tell someone to “Get a clue®!“).
After a very expensive four-year battle, the Judge ruled in favor of Clue Computing. While still reeling over the legal fees…Clue Computing was informed that Hasbro is appealing the decision….
November 7th 2000: Hasbro loses bid in Court Of Appeals… Clue Computing wins the domain for good!!!
Source: Clue Computing Website
Case#2 Mattel vs. ANYONE NAMED BARBIE
Mattel, owners of the famed Barbie® doll and line of accessories has allegedly set out on a quest to remove any domains with the name “Barbie®” in it, claiming “Trademark and Copyright infringement” to “Trademark Dilution”…
Uh…what if a person’s name is short for Barbara? If they go from “Barbie®” to “Babs®“, will they hear from the Tiny Tunes™ lawyer next?
Case#3 e-Toys vs. etoy
The only known successful case in favor of the plaintiffs.
Legend has it, that it all started with an angry letter from a moron who left out the “s” in the navigation bar. Found the site crude and the language offensive, and threatened e-Toys that he’ll “never shop here again”…well…duh.
etoy.com was a site for artists and performers.
Despite etoy.com being registered with the interNIC almost two years before etoys.com… the fact is, e-Toys registered their name as a trademark a month before etoy. That and a few other things led to an American judge suspending the European etoy domain name.
AFTERMATH: After months of bad press, e-toys stock plummeting (from $64 per share to $13), denial of service attacks by Râ„¢Mark… e-Toys finally succumbed to the pressure (came to their senses?) and withdrew their lawsuit against etoy…offering full restoration of the site and paying all legal fees.
www.etoy.com was restored on February 28th, 2000. Many still resent e-Toys and will continue to boycott for years.
Me? In the words of Winston Churchill: “I stopped hating the Germans the instant the war was over.”
Fix up that Customer Service, and we’ll be back for Christmas 2000….
Case#4 Some Corporation vs. YOU
What do I care?
That was my initial reaction too. Truth be told, I could really could have cared less about the fates of the above-mentioned sites…
That is until I realized how easily this can happen to my sites, and the sites of my friends…
So now I have joined in on the e-Toys boycott…fully covered by my constitutional rights to free speech and assembly, though for purely selfish reasons…
What if The Erox Corporation one day, decides to stop being cool, and considers Erox Graphix (“Erox” being my nickname for over 15 years…) a form of trademark infringement?
What if an EVEN MORE narcissistic Eric Brooks (it’s a stretch…bear with me) decides to use his fortune to take my website away from me and my legal aid lawyer…???
Same thing can happen to any one of us….
I just convinced a relative to not place his traditional $300 Christmas order with e-Toys (where all my kids get their gifts from him). Come to think of it, since we moved from New York City, most of my five children’s Birthday and Christmas gifts are shipped here via e-Toys. In two days…they’ve lost 3 customers…and counting!
Final Thoughts™(Â©1996 Jerry Springer)
We all bought our domain names under the premise of the “first come/first served” basis. Trademark Laws can’t apply to domain names…the concept is ludicrous! Does the world-acclaimed “Associated Press (AP)” have the right to www.ap.com over “Audio Precision (present owners of the address)”??? I think not. Audio Precision got it first, so there!
What E-Commerce is suggesting will cause bedlam and chaos!
Imagine applying for a domain name, and your domain-name provider replying: “Thank you! Your application will be processed pending a six month evaluation and research over varying Trademark and International Copyright laws, Patents Pending, and any other device, not yet known to man…”
100,000 domain names per month. There aren’t enough hours in a day.
Why stop there? If your house is on a block named after someone famous, say, “Jackson Street”…Then Tito has the rights to raid your refrigerator, and Marlon can crash on your couch whenever he feels like it. You keep paying the bills, but they own the trademark rights to “Jackson”, and therefore, your home.
This is the kind of logic that they are suggesting.
It’s time the little guppies become pihranas!
I say we hit them right in their wallet…
….seems to be the only place where they feel any pain!
Eric Brooks, Owner- Erox Graphix
Wednesday, December 8th 1999
Just to be safe…
Barbie® is a registered trademark of Mattel Electronics, all rights reserved.
Babs Bunny® is a registered trademark of Warner Bros., all rights reserved.
Clue® and Monopoly® are registered trademarks of Hasbro, all rights reserved.
Clue Computing® is a registered trademark of Clue Computing Company, all rights reserved.
eToys® is a registered trademark of Etoys,Inc., all rights reserved.
etoy® is a registered trademark of Etoy,Inc, all rights reserved.