The PGA Tour has filed a UDRP at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for ThePlayers.com domain name. The UDRP is WIPO Case D2017-0746.
ThePlayers.com is a domain name that has a creation date of January 22, 2003. It appears that the domain name was registered prior to that, but it was dropped and acquired by another party. This domain name is now owned by NameFind, a company that is owned and operated by GoDaddy. Based on the Whois History (via DomainTools), I believe the domain name was acquired in the large Marchex domain name acquisition made in 2015.
If you visit ThePlayers.com, you can see that the domain name is parked with a “for sale” message at the top. When I did a Whois search at DomainTools, I saw that the domain name appears to have a $45,000 asking price on Afternic. There are currently golf-related PPC links showing on the automatically generated landing page.
I am not much of a golf fan, but when I did a Google search for “The Players” and “PGA Tour,” I learned that the PGA has an annual golf tournament known as “The Players Championship.” It looks like the tournament is known by many simply as “The Players.” It makes sense that the PGA Tour would want this domain name, but ThePlayers.com seems pretty generic to me. I would be curious to know whether the PGA Tour tried to buy this domain name before filing its UDRP.
One of the new issues GoDaddy has to face is dealing with UDRP filings and other legal challenges. Fortunately for the company, it has the financial and human capital resources to defend its domain names if the company chooses. This isn’t the first time NameFind / GoDaddy has had to defend a UDRP. Other recent UDRP cases include Ellery.com (terminated), femikuti.com (no response – transferred), and agvision.com (no response – transferred).
From my perspective, ThePlayers.com is a defensible domain name and I would expect GoDaddy to fight the UDRP. The challenge is that it could be difficult to overcome the golf PPC links, despite the fact that the links most likely weren’t set by the domain owner but rather the parking company. We shall see what happens once the UDRP is decided.
Update: The UDRP has been terminated and the domain name is now owned by PGA TOUR, INC. My guess is they paid for it, likely much less than the asking price. If they didn’t pay for it, there would be little incentive for GoDaddy to agree to terminate the UDRP. I reached out to Paul Nicks and will update this again if there is more information to share.
Golf isn’t the only game the players play:
ThePlayersTheatre.com (more actors)
ThePlayers.org (even more actors)
So why does the PGA think it alone owns this phrase?
My guess is they are upset with the PPC links.
The irony is that the PPC links are helpful in steering people in the right direction if they mistakenly assumed the PGA Tour owned the domain name.
Exactly what I was thinking. It’s the usual absurdity: Company pays to advertise through PPC and agrees through TOS to place ads on parked domains. Then the company notices its own ads and starts litigating versus the billboard!
Although PPC may generate legal risk, I’m keen on saying sometimes that PPC links may actually help / push potential buyer to acquire a domain name because advertising links may potentially irritate them more than “for sale” lander. That’s just a guess… What do you think?
Elliot, In this type of dispute you have to look carefully at complainant’s trademarks and registration dates. If there’s an identical match and the links signify knowledge (or from which knowledge can be inferred even though denied)then the likelihood is a complainant’s verdict. NameFind does not want to be known as a cybersquatter. It’s in the legitimate business of reselling generic domain names in the secondary market. Gml