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In
the cyberspace, there are many ways one needs to be careful. If one were to
develop a website they need to be very careful when coming up with the domain
name, as there are many other people and companies out there that own the
rights to certain names on the web. Domain names have taken on a new role as businesses
become aware that websites are important identifiers. Companies sometimes have
issues when creating domain names, as people just buy up names. These people
are hoping to get a huge payday from a company that needs a domain name they
own. The company will typically pay the person a decent amount of money, to
acquire the domain name from them for the company. Today, domain names serve as
a trademark, or a main identifier, so the company is easily identifiable to the
public (Joy). This is why companies will pay huge amounts of money to a person
who already owns a domain name that can easily distinguish that company. The
company wants people to be able to remember a website and know that it
corresponds with them. “Cybersquatting is the practice of registering a domain
name that is same as, or very similar to, the trademark of another with the
intention of selling (at a profit) the domain name to the trademark owner”
(Joy). Cyber squatters register phrases or words they think will win them a
payday in the long run. A trademark owner cannot register his own company name,
if a cyber squatter already owns that domain name, which means the trademark
owner will have to settle with the cyber squatter, as that is how the trademark
owner could get their name. Most of the time, the trademark owner will pay a lot
more than what the name is worth, as the cyber squatter probably only paid
around 10-15 dollars for the name per year. Cybersquatting is a very legitimate
practice, even though it seems unethical in a way, people are allowed to buy up
domain names and someday make a company pay a huge amount of money to own that
domain name.

            Another issue that happens with
trademarks and domain names is when an active domain name expires, and the
owner forgets to renew it right away, it could get snatched up by someone else,
and then the owner would have to pay a lot more for the name than he originally
was going to have to (Panjab University Follow, 2012). Fortunately, people can
sue for their domain names back in the United States, as for other places
someone may be out of luck and have to pay the cyber squatter a lot more for
their name back. They can sue under the Anti Cyber Squatter Consumer Production
Act.

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            The first case I would like to
discuss is an old one but definitely one that is important when it comes to domain
names and trademarks. The first one is MTV vs. Curry. Adam Curry was a video
jockey for MTV in 1993. He decided he wanted to make a website for content that
was on MTV. He decided to call it mtv.com. He apparently told MTV what he was
doing with his website, and they apparently told him that they had no interest
in the internet, and that what he was doing was fine. Then in 1994 when Curry
quit the MTV network, MTV was not okay with Adam Curry owning the domain to
mtv.com. They took him to court and sued or tried to sue him for taking their
name. Then he came back with that they said everything was fine he was doing. MTV
claimed their contract with Curry was void unless it was in writing. Which it
was not as Curry claims everything he is saying was verbally told him by other
people at MTV. Eventually, Curry settled for an undisclosed amount out of court
and returned the domain name to MTV. I found this interesting, as a case as I
was not really sure how MTV could sue Curry if they had no interest in the
internet in 1993, but then since he quit became all interested and wanted to
sue for their name. I also, think Curry was smart to sign the name back over
the MTV after he quit, as he probably made a decent amount of money from them
after he quit. I feel like just from what I learned from Cyber Law, that Curry
could have sued MTV if they would have tried to take the name from him without
giving proper compensation, since he was the first to own it and everything.

            Another case that I found online was
Microsoft vs MikeRowesoft. A 17-year-old in Canada decided to make a website
just for fun, and believed it would be comical to add “soft” at the end of his
name for just a play on words (Microsoft vs. MikeRoweSoft). All his website was
composed of was some of his work over graphical designs he created. Microsoft
found out about his website, and was not happy with the name. They sent him a
letter basically saying he was breaching on their trademark, and wanted Mike to
remove his website immediately. Rowe was not just going to shut down his
website without being compensated. Microsoft said they would give him the $10
back for the fee for registering his domain, but Rowe, was not very happy with
that offer. He sent a counter offer requesting $10,000, but that didn’t go well
as Microsoft then sent him a cease and desist order which accused Rowe of
cybersquatting (Microsoft vs. MikeRoweSoft). Rowe then went to the press, which
was then international news. Over 12 hours Rowe’s site had blown up with views around
a total of almost 250000 and he was even sent $6000 for court expenses.

Microsoft sent out a statement after all this saying they may have taken their
trademark a little too seriously. In exchange for Rowe’s domain name, Microsoft
made a new website for him, paid for Microsoft certification course, and
escorted him to the Microsoft Research TechFest in Washington (Microsoft vs.

MikeRoweSoft). This case is very interesting as it really makes Microsoft look
bad, but it does make sense why they went after him in the first place. They
just took a too serious course of action against a 17-year-old with a graphic
design website. It was nothing similar to Microsoft’s website, and no one is
going to type in MikeRowesoft, before the actual website for Microsoft, as no
one would really think to spell it like that when browsing the web. As there is
law for sites that sound like some company’s actual trademark, but Microsoft
took it a little far in my opinion. Rowe did eventually give up his domain
name, as Microsoft wasn’t really going to let him keep it, which is
understandable. But I think Rowe did the right thing, not just folding and
accepting the $10 refund from them. He got a lot more out of them, by holding
his ground. This example just shows that even though Rowe was technically
cybersquatting, he was not doing to compete against Microsoft, his website was
not a more common way to access Microsoft like his spelling was not even close
to how Microsoft spells their website, and no one really knew about it until
Microsoft went and tried to make him shut it down without any sort of
compensation. Domain names can be a tricky thing to come up with, as there are
so many names that are taken, that most people don’t even know when they make a
website. Then they find out that they have taken a name that someone else
already owns. Even though this was not the case with Rowe, I still can’t
believe how Microsoft treated him in the first place. They really thought that
people were going to mistake them for MikeRowesoft.com, which is just
ridiculous, as no one in their right mind would even think to spell it like
that.

            Both of these cases, impact the
world very much today. As both show the world that there are a lot of domain
names out there. Taking precautions such as making sure the name you want to
create isn’t already taken or isn’t too close to someone else’s name is very
important in today’s technologically advanced world. Companies rely on the
internet to get business. For example, in the MTV case, MTV initially thought
the internet wasn’t needed to help them grow as a business, but once Adam Curry
started posting videos on their, they realized they should get into the
internet. They didn’t have a problem with him managing the website until he
quit. Then they wanted their domain to be the that Curry had created. So, for
Curry, it is not that he didn’t make sure the name wasn’t taken, he just got
booted out of being in charge of the website once he quit MTV in 1994. In the
Microsoft case, Rowe was not trying in any way to take business from Microsoft,
he just thought it would be funny to add the word “soft” to his name, and have
a play on words. And the Microsoft found out, and was not fond of him “using”
their name in his domain. I personally think one of the most important things
is searching and really making sure a name you would like to use for a domain
is not already taken. It is also important to make sure it is not a play on
words, as companies will take offense and try to shut the domain down. And if a
person wants to make a domain based off their newly created company, and they
find out someone randomly owns the domain they would like to use, the people
wanting to make a website based off their new company can’t use that domain
unless they contact the owner and make them an offer to take the domain. Cybersquatting
can cause a lot of harm if people aren’t careful when making a new website with
a domain they think is not taken. But unfortunately, sometimes that is not the
case, and they will have to fork up a lot of money usually to just get their
name. 

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