StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 03/05/01
Clipped from: http://www.stratvantage.com/news/030501.htm
The News – 03/05/01
Watch Your Trademarks! eReferee Decision Broadens Trademark Protection for Domain Names
A recent federal court decision bars startup RightSports from using the word referee not only in its domain names (for example, AskTheReferee.com) but also in the names of its Web site directories (for example, RightSports.com/referee).
This decision reverses an ICANN decision that found in favor (for a change) of the little guy in a dispute with Referee magazine. The mag runs a pretty weak site called referee.com, which is little more than a place to sign up for subscriptions. RightSports developed a full-featured site called eReferee, the name of which the mag complained was too close to their trademark. Seems that the mag has a trademark on the use of the word referee in all publishing.
While I certainly can see the magazine’s point about the eReferee site name, I believe the court made a tremendous error in barring the use of the word referee from any part of a URL. This is tantamount to giving the trademark holder unlimited rights to a common English word.
In their arguments before ICANN, RightSports stated that there are other instances of the “e” usage. For example, eGolf is not affiliated with Golf magazine.
Regardless of whether the magazine had a legitimate complaint, this court decision sends a chill throughout the intellectual property community, and should worry any business person who uses un-trademarked words to describe their industry in a Web site. What’s next? Prohibiting RightSports from using the word referee in the text of their Web site? Keeping you from using industry terms on your Web site?
If there’s any justice, this ruling will be struck down upon appeal. Those interested in supporting RightSport’s legal struggle can donate to their legal defense fund .
By the way, I love eReferee’s tag line: “We rule!”
WAP Browser for PCs
Alert SNS reader Larry Kuhn pointed me to a WAP browser you can install on your PC and use to view WAP-only sites. It’s at: www.winwap.org . After installing the browser, you can go to sites such as www.webnum.net , which I mentioned in the last SNS, and view the content. If you go to Webnum and type in my phone number, 19525251584, and if the site is up (it is beta), you should be taken to my wireless page.
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