The National Arbitration Forum (NAF) has awarded Google the rights to over 750 domain names that a cybersquatter had purchased and tied to other known brands and celebrity names. Between February 29 and March 10 of this year, defendant Chris Gillespie registered hundreds of domains including googlechevron.com, googlecoors.com, googledonaldtrump.com and googlegaycruises.com.
Google, who is currently embroiled in its own infringement trial with Oracle, called Gillespie's tactics “one of the most aggressive campaigns of domain name infringement that [Google] has encountered.” Gillespie went on to claim that the word "google" has evolved into a generic verb and is not protected, and that he was merely using the domains to build a “affinity-based social networks that will allow users to interact with each other and obtain content, products, and services related to their affinity-community’s respective interests.” Gillespie had redirected some of the domains to a group of "gay interest websites, none of which have any association with Google or the other brands, individuals, or products that are included in Respondent’s domain names,” according to Google's complaint.
Interestingly, Gillespie went on to file a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to have Google’s trademarks voided in the U.S. The NAF found that even if Gillespie would somehow win, the search giant has enough patents worldwide to maintain rights to the 750+ domain names. It was found that Gillespie is a cybersquatter, and achieved the following indications of cybersquatting:
- The domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
- Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
- The domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
As of late, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) system for submitting applications for new generic top-level domains had been down, as the corporation was in the process of expanding the variety of top-level domain addresses. Some had warned that this could become a bit of a disaster for certain brands, with cybersquatters stepping in and opportunistically buying up all sorts of brand names with new domain extensions. Still, ICANN, who moderates the address system of the internet, which began accepting non-traditional domain name endings this year, including ‘.sport,’ ‘,food,’ and ‘.bank,’ believes this sort of thing will plainly foster innovation in web commerce. Stayed tuned for googlegaycruisespabstsnickers.sport.