Just Asking for a UDRP from the NBA

With the NBA set to announce the name of the newly relocated Oklahoma City basketball team, rumors have been circulating that the team will be named the Thunder. The rumors seem to stem from the registration of OKCThunderBasketball.com as a reason for this, although OKCBarons.com seems to be owned by a law firm in Oklahoma City.
Nonetheless, I must point out something that would seem to be asking for a UDRP. Out of curiosity, I searched for the Whois on ThunderBasketball.com, as this would seem to be a better domain name to own. The name has been registered since 2005, which would indicate the owner didn’t register the name in bad faith or to capitalize on a professional basketball team called the Thunder. Perhaps the owner’s son played for an AAU or local team called the Thunder.
However, I believe he is making a huge mistake that will surely cost him his domain name if the Oklahoma City team is renamed the Oklahoma City Thunder. The owner currently has a statement on the site: “Thunderbasketball.com For Sale… To the highest bidder. Make an offer at info@thunderbasketball.com”
While this certainly doesn’t show the owner intended to profit off of an NBA franchise, a UDRP panel could and probably would interpret it that way. If this isn’t damaging enough, he has an Adsense block advertising “OKC Basketball Tickets,”Sonics Fans – Hoops” and “Supersonics Ringtones.” The NBA is aware of the UDRP process, and is currently 3-1 in UDRP decisions.
There is always a fine balance between trying to sell a domain name that has become sensitive (for whatever reason) and not putting yourself at risk. It would be likely that the NBA and other fans/speculators would contact the owner in an attempt to purchase the domain name whether the owner had the statement up there or not. Putting a for sale sign up at this time is putting the domain name at serious risk.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. a few months ago I talked to a bitter guy that had a Seattle blog and he was rallying his readers to purchase every possible domain name the new team could be interested in. That way they could request money from the new team or just prevent them from getting it all together.
    His true words.
    I informed him that this wasn’t the proper way to protest and that it would easily be seen as bad faith, especially considering that he blogged about it ahead of time. He was “100% sure” that what he was doing was ok and that it’s “first come first serve” to those names.
    I told him that actions like that give all domainers a bad rap, but he could care less.

  2. Most people who have domains like this guy don’t even know what UDRP means or that what they are doing is against the terms of contract they agreed to when purchasing the domain. Add to it the thousands of people who register political domains, olympian domains, etc, etc. Most of them have no clue what they are doing. Just look at the DNN story on Obama domains. . . I’ve been deleting comments left and right on that article from people selling Obamathisandthat.com domains all week.

  3. I would be surprised if they used the word “basketball” in their domain name. How many professional sports teams out there use “basketball” or “football” or “hockey” in their domain names?
    Cowboysfootball.com just doesn’t sound right. Maybe it should really be cowboys.com. Wait…let’s not go there.
    Seriously, though, I would expect them to buy thunder.com (which now redirects to thunder.net) or maybe for a while it will be a subdomain like thunder.nba.com.

  4. I appreciate what you are saying, as well as the reality of recent UDRP rulings. However, this does not make it “right”.
    An individual registers a domain name years prior to some basketball or football (or whoever they are) team deciding to invent their new brand – and this person is expected to hide in fear?
    Are you kidding me? That’s ridiculous!
    If someone happened to invent the business name “Walmart” in 1920 and then 5 years later a guy named Sam decides to call his business “Walmart” he doesn’t just get to take it from the person. Sam has the option of negotiating an agreeable purchase price if he wants to own and use that name throughout a specified region.
    Let’s start standing up for what’s right and defending our property!
    If the NBA (or anyone else) wants it, the guy doesn’t need to advertise that it’s for sale – they will find him. With the way the UDRP system works, he is just asking for trouble.
    If he wanted to create a brand, he shouldn’t put his brand at risk by allowing advertising that could be considered infringing (the Adsense advertising NBA-related things). If he had a reason for registering it (other than selling it), now – well several months ago – would be/have been a good time to make the reason clear. IMO, it’s a generic domain name to an extent, but as I’ve seen, UDRP is about the domain’s usage – or non-usage.
    Don’t complain to the messenger.

  5. Understood.
    But, first of all it’s an injustice for anyone to claim NBA branding in the generic phrase “thunderbasketball”.
    Second, maybe he has a backyard basketball team that he wants to promote? Maybe he thinks some of his boys are NBA material? Maybe he just has a dream of doing one of the above sometime in the future?
    If we can’t secure our assets under these conditions then we have no better property “rights” than Cuba.
    Totally agree, but he shouldn’t have Adsense with NBA ads, as that is treading on the potential trademark.

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