Domain Name Disputes – Protect Your Online Turf

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In a recent case, an individual in Guangzhou, China registered the domain names <walgereens.com> and <walgreene.com> with an internet registrar.  The websites at the disputed domain names displayed the message “Redirecting” before taking users to various, unrelated websites, including the legitimate website at “www.walgreens.com”. Each time a user typed in the URL a different website would be displayed. In addition, the disputed domains names occasionally redirected internet users to a website offering visitors the opportunity to obtain “exclusive rewards worth at least $50” or “worth at least $129” by filling out a survey.  Through the dispute resolution process of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the “real” Walgreens- the Walgreen Co. that is the largest drugstore company in the United States- was able to obtain an order that the registrar transfer the disputed domain names to the company.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is in the process of introducing new top-level domains to the Internet. This program is expected to add well over 1,000 new TLDs to the handful today (.com, .net, .org, etc.).

While this gives consumers and businesses more choices for choosing their web address, it also raises the potential for competition, both legitimate and illegitimate.  For example, an individual or business in the United States, China, or any other country could potentially register a domain name using the same name or very similar name to that of your business, but with a different top level domain.  As with the example above, this is often done with the hope of confusing consumers and diverting traffic to the offender’s website to buy its good or services (often times a counterfeit version or low quality version of your product).

We can help you with your domain name issues, enforce your rights in your name or trademark, and protect your piece of online real estate.


About the Authors

Daniel Findley

Dan Findley provides general business, real estate, tax and intellectual property counsel to closely held and family-owned businesses.

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