The Charlotte Bobcats are a relatively new NBA franchise, having been established in 2004 as an expansion franchise after the Hornets moved to New Orleans. You can find information about the team at Bobcats.com, which was purchased for $50,000 in September of 2007.
If you visit CharlotteBobcats.com, you will not find any information about the NBA basketball team because it is not owned by the team. This afternoon on Grantland (founded by one of my all time favorite sports writers, Bill Simmons), there’s an article about the history of the CharlotteBobcats.com domain name.
As you might expect, the Bobcats reportedly attempted to purchase the domain name, offering incentives that ranged from season tickets to just under $100,000 cash. The owners of the domain name rejected all offers, and they have not heard back in several years.
The article is well worth a read, although I am wondering if the article could possibly lead to a UDRP filing against the owners of the domain name.
To win a UDRP, a complainant must provide evidence that meets three tenets:
1) The domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark
2) Owner lacks rights in the domain name
3) Domain name was registered and used in bad faith
In the article, the owner of the domain name admitted that the name was registered based on three potential team names for the Charlotte franchise. Further, the article mentioned that the owners receive quite a bit of emails intended for the Bobcats, so apparently some people are confusing their domain name with the team.
UDRP panels have been inconsistent when it comes to rulings, so this certainly wouldn’t be a cut and dry filing. However, if the Bobcats were willing to offer close to $100,000 to buy this domain name, an article like this might irritate them enough to file a UDRP.
It wouldn’t be the first time a NBA team used a UDRP to get a domain name it wanted. In fact, it seems that the NBA is proficient with its UDRP filings.
- ClevelandCavs.com UDRP win
- TheClevelandCavaliers.com UDRP win
- DenverNuggets.com UDRP win
- NewJerseyNets.com UDRP win
- HoustonRockets.com UDRP win
- WashingtonWizards.com UDRP win
The NBA did lose a UDRP for Knicks.com back in 2000, but since Knicks.com now forwards to the Knicks website, it looks like they were able to strike a deal eventually.
If I owned a domain name like CharlotteBobcats.com, I would feel very fortunate to have received offers to buy the domain name instead of legal threats. You have to wonder if the article will grab the attention of the NBA and/or the Bobcats and lead to a UDRP.