There was a report in today’s Calgary Herald that I found interesting and somewhat surprising, and I want to share it with you.
According to the article, a 17 year old Canadian high school student named Abdul Traya registered the AppleiMac.com domain name in 1998. It was just before Apple launched its new computer line, and apparently the company wanted the domain name but didn’t register it.
After a legal letter from Apple, Traya was able to settle with the company for a significant amount of money. Traya reported that he received an “undisclosed sum – an amount, he admitted, that was almost enough to retire on.”
Perhaps Traya’s age worked in his favor, and Apple didn’t want to spend time filing legal papers, especially since Traya was a minor. Also, perhaps the company felt it was important to use the domain name ASAP and thought it was worth the money to settle immediately rather than using the court system. The quicker UDRP system didn’t come into existence until December of 1999.
Whatever the case, I think Traya got somewhat lucky because there are hefty penalties in the US for cybersquatting (up to $100,000 per domain name), and the UDRP system isn’t expensive and doesn’t take very long. It was nice to see that he used the settlement to help start his company though.
Aside from this interesting information, I take issue with one part of the article:
“Still, there are those who do set out to make money from domains, said University of Calgary professor Tom Keenan.
“It’s called ‘cybersquatting,’ ” said Keenan.”
Of course that is only true when you consider trademark infringing domain names. There is a multi-billion dollar, completely legal, domain investment business built on descriptive/generic domain names that cannot be trademarked.
There aren’t a whole lot of people and companies that legally make money from domain names, but I believe publicly traded companies like Marchex, Tucows, and Demand Media (to name a few) would disagree with the definition of cybersquatting as making money from domains.