According to a news release today, prestigious law firm Winston & Strawn prevailed in a lawsuit on behalf of NBA basketball player Chris Bosh, who not only won the domain name ChrisBosh.com, but he also won a financial judgment of $120,000 (including legal fees and damages). The $120,000 judgment does not include the attorney’s fees that the domain owner needed to pay for his own representation, of course.
The court ruled that the plaintiff had used Bosh’s name to generate revenues for the domain owner, without the player’s consent or approval. The release also noted that the defendant also owns something like 800 other domain names of athletes and other famous professionals, some of whom may see this judgment and look to file suit to claim their domain name back as well as any potential damages.
This should serve as a warning to people who register the domain names of famous athletes, politicians, and celebrities. There certainly are legitimate uses for these types of domain names, but there are also ways that owners can put these domain names at risk, and also put their business at risk. When you buy or own a domain name like this, you should consider the risk vs. reward of ownership, and see this case as an example of a major risk.
I frequently see people discussing this issue in domain forums, and now you have an answer.
Everyone should also look at this judgment as the future of what attorneys will do instead of filing a UDRP. It is financially better for both parties (ie. Complainant & Attorney) if they can get a court ruling for the domain and monetary damages.
Very good point.
More importantly, if you receive a C&D or any similar coorespondace with a trademarked name, just give it up.
Im’ sure if the owner did that he wouldn’t have a lawsuit on his hands.
@dcmike77……you mean if Apple.com attacked Apples,com that Apples,com should be given up just because of a C&D? What if the domain was never used for any infringing purpose?
Elliot……I’m surprised no other bloggers have reported on this. You broke a pretty major bit of news here, even if it was rehashed from a PR wire. This is big news.
Apples.com/Apple.com/ApplePie.com can all be argued as generics
ChrisBosh.com, LebronJames.com, MichaelJordan.com aren’t close to generics 🙂
Also, like most other bloggers, when someone else posts an article, I don’t like to rehash the same stuff unless I can add a different spin on to things. I imagine others saw this and didn’t want to re-hash without reason.
I would also add, to this very same topic and situation the issue of
Within the ccTLD industry segment, it is very common for typos to be a customary practice for many people to make an illegit profit out of someone’s famous name, celebrity nickname, famous handle and even famous brand’s typos.
If you don’t want to get in trouble, and eventually you will, better just stay out of typos of celebrities or brands.
That is the decent and legitimate way of doing business.
I’m curious – what if you have some kind of general basketball reference website with a url like:
http://mybasketlballsite.com/chris-bosh (not real)
and place PPC ads or generate revenue in some way by way of his name… is this equally problematic? Or is it specifically owning the domain name that is the legal problem?
I am fairly sure that it’s the domain name because it can confuse people into thinking it’s Bosh’s: From the PR:
“My intent was to make sure that consumers find me when they are looking for me on the Internet, rather than a website that is confusing and tries make money off my name and my intellectual property.”
what if someone was using chrisbosh.nba-players.com would that still be a violation? eventhough the registered url has nothing to do with chris bosh?