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Victory for small business in domain disputes 207

Posted by Hemos
from the david-beats-goliath dept.
A reader sent us the link-o-meter to the story about how Clue Computing beat toy giant Hasbro over a 3 year long legal dispute over clue.com (Hasbro owns the Clue board game). Some are hoping that this will mean small business have a precent to call in in the case of legal disputes over names trademarked by different folks-and in related news, Hasbro will be purchasing Wizards of the Coast, Magic:The Gathering card maker, and owner of TSR, Inc.
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Victory for small business in domain disputes

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  • This largely makes sense. I don't know about statement 1, I don't think there *is* any absolute protection of a name. As many said, trademark law protects your use of the mark in your trade... not your right to use the word for anything you want.
    2) I don't agree. "A" can have as many domains as he wants....
    3&4) YES! Absolutely! Good idea! We should start doing this immediately.

    The only problem I see with revoking domain names is the fact that people percieve having PAID for it. Even though they have just paid a fee for 'registration services' and not actually bought the domain..... this could get ugly.
    If my domain was taken away, I would certainly feel that NSI had performed their duties as registrar fraudulently by letting me register in the first place.
    It would be easy to show that the original guidelines, up until recently, for which TLD to use are still in place, and that NSI ignored them.
  • by dpdx (52919) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @10:23AM (#1691836)
    A company called RealNames is trying to do what you're describing. What's stunting RealNames is acceptance; obviously, companies have to pay them extra to sign up, and that doesn't sit well with them sometimes (they thought they took care of that in trademark registration).

    The problem with InterNIC/RSI "impartially" (i.e, non-commercially) administering something like this (besides the fact that it's RSI) is the enormous overhead, plus it's what DNS was supposed to do. They didn't policy-build to account for cybersquatters and the like, and now it's coming back to bite them in the butt.

    OTOH, Yahoo lists net presences by category; you could find your category, and then look for Clue (Entertainment:games:board:Hasbro) or Clue Computing (Companies:California:etc.).

    I think the current DNS resolution policy would work, if it had more serious teeth. That's likely to be the best solution we'd get.
  • Hasbro buying out WotC is probably the worst thing which could happen for role-playing gamers.

    Why? Because Hasbro is a huge company. And huge companies have this annoying habit of bowing to the twisted whims of the so-called Christian right (never mind that it's neither). Look at Warner's cop-out of releasing The Matrix only on DVD (which I hope they don't do in the end).

    In other words, everyone's favorite band of immature zealots will now have a much easier time of getting a lot of the best role-playing and card games out there effectively banned by "forcing" Hasbro to stop making them (thanks to one incredibly annoying facet of the Christian right: it's so damn huge that a boycott, or even the threat of one, would be disastrous to any company, even Micro$oft).

  • I don't know if it solves all the problems, but I think your idea definitely has potential. Something like this would certainly be an improvement, though a lot of details would have to be worked out. I for one would like to see the idea developed.

    I guess there's still the problem that the names are textual, which could lead to contention -- if they are required to be the organization's real name, people would just start clamoring to get the "cool" company names. Already, plenty of internet start-ups have "dot com" in their names. Then again, they wouldn't have to do that if normal names could be used to find web sites.

    Of course, the existence of a problem does not imply the existence of a solution -- and how could you possibly avoid contention while using textual names? I think the problem is inherent to the concept, but I suppose it can be worked around and minimized.

    Would your idea allow exact duplicates? That would seem to cause trouble, but I think it would actually help: when someone registers a name that is identical to an existing one, he could be required to provide some distinguishing information, and the other guy could be contacted and given the opportunity to provide some additional information as well, so that when you do the query, you would see the same name twice, with some annotations to help tell them apart.

    Alternately, it could allow both entries to have exactly the same name, but contact both parties and give them the opportunity to add annotaions. In the meantime, the entries could just look the same, which is presumably undesirable to both parties. Even if one or the other is playing dirty, e.g., trying to steal the other guy's "eyeballs" (ugh!), at least one of them will want to add something.

    It's just a directory entry, though, so we can't let them write a book in the description field. Hopefully most people wouldn't get too carried away, but there should be a hard limit at which it resorts to first come, first served and the new guy would have to think of something else, or maybe just append a number. To clarify, I'm talking about someone duplicating not only the name but the description, in which case there would almost have to be someone who is clearly trying to play dirty, so it could be decided fairly enough.

    Also, it would be a pain to have to do this query every time, so users need a way to get back to the site they actually wanted once they've found it. This can be handled by a simple bookmarking system like browsers already have, though it should store the actual IP addresses, or some other unique identifier, rather than the query that was used. Also, since users would want to rely on them more, it would be important to have a better system for organizing bookmarks. Maybe some kind of lightweight database application on the user end.


    David Gould
  • Lots of domain names change so this won't be a major problem. If a company sells the rights to something, then part of the arrangement could be to sell the domain name. They could also stipulate that the former host must maintain a linking page to the new site for a prescribed period of time.

    But you do raise a good point. Suppose a company changes it's name. For example, Foo Bar Incorporated (foobar.com and foo.com) decides to become fbi.com. (hmmm, so that is what fbi really stands for). Do they get to keep foobar.com? Probably, yes, but do they then get to keep foo.com?

    Hey I'm going to try out this No Score option on this pathetic comment.

  • So it is a good job that there is no (as far as I can see) .rus TLD. Otherwise, a certain company might claim that the whole TLD infringes their trademark.
  • Bianca's Smut Schack is still around, and still under the same name as always.

    Looks to me like she and her trolls beat the Radio Shack twits soundly.

    Jake
  • like if somebody buys 1-800-get-clue would Hasbro have the right to come along and claim it as their trademark, and force the owners to fork it over? Must be some precedent setting court cases in that area.

    Chuck
  • The first time I mention something that I'm not totally sure about the validity of it, and someone has to call me on it. Doh! At any rate, Priest and Mage deck products (and even the wanna-be Tarot cards included with Ravenloft) weren't quite what I meant, however, by cards. What I said was excessively vague as far as that issue was concerned. I think I'll keep on track next time. *bonk self* Ugh.

  • Hey, I was wondering... Why is it THE American law ruling the Net, since the Net is somehow *not only* in the USA.

    I'm European, and I'm sick and tired to see whatever's done on and to the Net is ruled by yankee law. I think there should be an Internet Law, signed by as many nations as possible that would only apply on the Net.

    Waaahh, we might even GPL the law...
  • No joke (this is probably a bit old, but I didn't initially follow this thread). WotC has done a lot of nasty things, including
    • Screwing around with Ars Magica
    • Significantly improving and then dumping Talislanta (I grew up on Talislanta, how could they try to kill it!?)
    • Buying, or rather nearly buying, a game from me very own brother -- and then when they stopped publishing RPG's, not telling him so that (if he didn't act himself) they would still keep rights to sell it (although they wouldn't sell it)
    I think it's obvious that last one pissed me off more, but they managed to piss on a lot of games I liked and bought one of the games I most greatly despise. Oh well.
  • "One Organization, one Domain."

    It's actually the case in many countries, regarding the country domain names (.fi, .de, .ch, etc). I know for sure that here in Finland, you can only own a name such as mydomain.fi if you're a company and hence pay a pretty important fee. And a company can only own one domain name.

    I agree it's going a bit too far, but at least large companies don't own 90% of all possible names in the country.

    What I see is very wrong too, is that the USA never use their country domain (.us?), but rather consider .com etc. as THEIR domain.

    There should be a law for that.

  • But then, some company called "Toys, Inc.", for instance, would be found at TOYS.R.US. I think some big well-known corporation would have a problem with this (see discussion further up).
  • This is how disputes should be handled. Seems to me this is a win/win, rather than one entity being forced to surrender their domain name.
  • What's with the constant comparisons between every company under the sun and Microsoft? It's like when people constantly describe a band (like, say, Gravity Kills) by comparing them with another band (perhaps Nine Inch Nails). Quickly the entire definition gets lost and you make it appear as if everything is precisely like everything else. So much for unique identities, eh?

    Anyway, the only notion I have to offer here is that WotC is still not and never will be the "big boy" of RPGs. They are a CCG company. They probably always will be, unless Hasbro is just totally nuts (trust me, they are). They bought TSR, and suddenly what became a part of the new Dragonlance expansion? Cards!?! These people have no creative thought. Which, I suppose, is like Microsoft in many ways. However, they would be this to CCGs, not RPGs.

    D&D and its various offshoots and editions have been slowly crumbling under the pressure of the last few years due to a lack of creative thought, a flexible rule system, and various other signs of a now decrepit age. White Wolf is the bad boy of RPGs today. Their presence is certainly felt more than any other RPG company I know of.

  • Most domain name suits have no real legal basis. They aren't violating any trademarks or infringing on patents or diluting public perception. The approach that seems to be being used to fight over domain names is trademark. Some company has a trademark over a name and so they use the trademark to try and bully small companies or private individuals. The only problem is that the legal bullying usually has no grounding. You can only trademark a name for a particular purpose. So for instance Apple Computers is free to sell computers under the Apple brand name but they can't sell records since that would infringe on Apple Records trademark. There's still some room for litigation at times of course. Apple Records sued Apple Computer for QuickTime since it could record/play back music and hence from Apple Records point of view Apple Computer was in the music business. By sticking to strict interpretations of trademark law though most cases could be thrown out of court. This isn't happening though, common sense isn't prevailing.

    In the Hasbro v.s. Clue Computing case the judge should very quickly throw the case out of court. Clue Computing isn't infringing on any of Hasbro's trademarks. Unfortunately it doesn't seem there are enough common sense judges out there. We need more Judge Judy's who aren't afraid to tell somebody their case is ridiculous. As soon as the concept of common sense is applied most of these lawsuits would stop: The plaintiff's case is dismissed, the defendant's countersuit for the amount of $XXX for legal fees and punitive damages is awarded.

    Trademarks are there to protect both companies and consumers. Unfortunately too many companies are misusing trademarks. Unfortunately not enough judges have the scruples or guts to call a frivolous lawsuit what it is.
  • Yehaa!! This is going to be one great app. Do you know what gui toolkit it uses. It is appropriate, that Apprentice is ported to linux, because most of the Magic players who go to uni actually do computer science, and a lot of them would use linux or some other form of unix.
  • The theory that Toys 'R' Us uses in such suits is slightly different than trademark infringement. They claim that even if the goods sold under the offending mark don't compete with Toys 'R' Us, the mark "dilutes" their famous mark that they spent a ton of money to build up. In all fairness, Toys 'R' Us has worked quite hard at making the "'R' Us" label meaningful...


    But, that argument is circular; 'R' Us only has value because a court is willing to enforce it as having value. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'd have to agree with you that it is questionable that a company could grab hold of a phrase and prevent even non-competitive uses of that phrase...


    Write your Congressman.

  • Yea except Fry's eventually forced them to give it up. I'm not really sure how, becuase Fry's is kind of forced to use the full Fry's Eletronics in thier adds so they don't conflict with the real Fry's which is s grocery store. (Funny thing is that they started off as the same chain and that in some places like Pheonix they sit side by side.) But it really doesn't matter since both domains sit with nothing on them. Which is kind of sad. I'd like to see the white trash thing that Fry's would put up for its website.
  • According to corporate law, if someone can prove that you don't enforce your trademark, it becomes dilluted and your right to use it is weakened.

    Yep, this makes it hard to tell in a lot of cases whether the company feels compelled to attack or is just being a bully (c.f. Volkwagen's shenanigans [yahoo.com] where it seems like the latter...)

  • It's that simple.
  • now THAT'S what I'm talking about.

    Domain names were meant for servers, not for corporate identity. Domain names don't even allow for spaces. That should be the first clue that it's not the right solution.
    Joe Shmo from Cocamo should be able to serve his "this is my dog" webpage on his www.ibm.org web server if he wants to (um, as long as he runs a non-corporate entity, and therefore deserves a .org).

    The domain name of one's server should bear no more relevance than the IP address. Corporations seeking an easy way to get folks to their web site should utilize a service like RealNames (or, I thought GO did this too).

    Unfortunately, IIRC, the original test of this technology led to folks typing in "Barbie" and getting a sex site. But in this case, Mattel would have a legitimate case for suing whoever coopted their trademark in this corporate identity namespace.

    Maybe web browsers should have an added feature like "Corporate Trademark Server: www.realname.com" or something like that, but whoever owns the repository, and redirection service needs to be answerable to trademark law, instead of the messed up situation we have now, where people who assign server names need to spend time in court. It should have no bearing.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • Hey all,

    Well I must admit that I don't have any problem with Hasbros... yet. I own the atari.co.uk domain and have a pretty tacky site on there, but in the year that I have owned it I have had no correspondance regarding it from Hasbros. Touch wood I won't in the future.

    If someone could figure out quite why not please state... I would be interested in my legal position. I know for a fact that the owners of atari.de were contacted but other than that, who knows ?

    Another site, diet-coke.net was bought by my company by accident... long story but it basically comes down to an internet domain-registering program.
    Anyway, we got the invoice and then started trying to figure out who had registered the domain (never mind why) when two days later we received a letter from lawyers representing diet coke (or whoever owns them) demanding that we hand over the domain to them promptly *or else*.
    Needless to say we gave it over to them - we're a small company and the publicity would not do us any good, even if ruled in our favour.

    The point is, what gives the big companies the right to do this ? Fair enough if someone registered the simpson.com domain and then started selling off sub-domains eg bart.simpson.com but just for owning one for legit purposes must be fair enough... after all, "first come, first served.".
  • by adamsc (985) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @10:51AM (#1691863) Homepage
    According to their website, 50% of their 1997 revenues and more of 1998s were spent fighting this case:
    Lastly, (and it *REALLY* pains us to say this) we need cash to pay the lawyers. Legal defense ate about 25% of our revenue the first year, and for 1997 it was over 50%. 1998 was even worse. If you'd like to send some cash which will be used ONLY for the defense of our domain name, you can send a check payable to:

    Philip L. Dubois Attorney Trust Account (include a note that it's for the clue.com case)

    and mail it to:
    Philip L. Dubois
    2305 Broadway
    Boulder, CO 80304
    $2 each from a good portion of slashdot.org readers would probably reduce that trend.

    On a wider note, maybe Rob should add a billing page to slashdot.org where you could use a credit card to donate to a good cause.

  • I quite agree.

    Imagine there is a well-known, international company based in Finland, or the UK, or Australia. And there`s also a minor little grocery store with the same name in a small town somewhere in America. Which one do you think gets .com? I know quite a few examples where it`s the small grocery store.

    But then, the USA is the world, isn`t it?
  • DNS is not the problem. Domain name allocation is the problem. First off, there should be top-level-by industry domains. Not this .web crap, that's just going to incite more abuse. We should have .pharm (did someone stop believing that more than three letters were allowed?), .fin, .toy, .game, .soft, .comp, .rest, etc. Also secondary tiers should be established for certain industries that would actually *want* a long domain if it ended in the right thing. For example I know many companies that would kill for a .edu address, so why not have a fubar.com.edu? Are you trying to tell me that Hasbro would want clue.pharm? clue.doc? No, they'll want clue.game and clue.toy. For an educational game, they might want a .com.eud, etc.

    We in the US have the *huge* advantage that we control the top-level domain space (unlike our .uk, .de, .jp, etc. friends overseas) and I say we should take full advantage of it! Clutter that space boys! ;-)

    DNS works. giving out only 6 primary domain heirachies with 3 being tightly controled was just short-sighted.
  • by jelwell (2152) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @09:24AM (#1691866)
    Wizard's of the coast actually owns Game Keeper (the mall chain store) now too. It astonishes me that Wizards is allowing themselves to be bought out. But more importantly worries me that many games and game stores might be hurt irreparably in the transition. Wizards bought another Role Playing Game previously from White Wolf Games called "Ars Magica", which was in the same line as Vampire the Masquerade and other Storytelling rpgs. Ars Magica was very quickly dumped on Atlas Games which has since mired the production.

    It would be a shame if Hasbro dumped D&D entirely or even put it on the back burner as many gaming stores could be hurt by this move.

    For more info on the aquisition goto wizards site [wizards.com].
    Joseph Elwell.

  • The entire whois database is still in the gigabyte range (read somewhere), which is no problem to copy between network level domain servers with todays datarates. The TLDs created for the proposed system would be short, probably no more than 10 bytes or so on average, so even a million of them would be less than a 100 megabyte database (name + 128 bit ipv6 name server reference).

    That was definetly the best proposal I have heard on the subject.


    -
    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.
  • Maybe some of you played this, but I doubt anyone with half a mind still does. I quit playing after they started releasing a new set every week. My god, there isn't much more they can do with the game now, so I doubt hasbro is gonna make any money off of that deal. Type 2 tournaments are simply a money making scheme. They don't allow older sets, WOTC doesn't sanction type 1, so you HAVE to buy the new cards if you want to play in the tours. Its friggin crazy. Richard Garfield HAD a great idea til it got all twisted around in an effort to make money.

    ---------------------------
    "I'm not gonna say anything inspirational, I'm just gonna fucking swear a lot"
  • While the appeal is pending, however, the decision is likely to be grist for members of ICANN's Domain Name Support Organization, which is forging a policy for resolving domain name disputes.

    The value of the abovementioned policy is highly dependant on the willingness of companies to actually live by it. In this case, where Hasbro seemingly appeals the judgement by sheer reflex, don't exactly give me high hopes for the future. I might be mistaken, but it seems that given a large enough company, there is no limit to how far a dispute is pushed in pursuit of total victory.

    Or else I'm juste extremely cynical.

  • Isn't Linux a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds? I'm not much for legal research, but I've noted that statement at the bottom of a number of different Web pages (although always believing the validity of what you read is rather naive). I mean, Linus isn't exactly a huge corporation with tons of money with which to go do battle on the legal fighting grounds that are the United States. Not only that, but Linux is probably one of the mostly widely seen trademarks on the Web today. How could he possibly protect his mark against all threats to its proper usage? Again, I admit a good amount of ignorance in this area and simply seek an enlightening response.

  • There was a court decision some time back that awarded intellectual property rights to the CCG concept to Garfield and by extension WotC. How long do think it will be before Hasbro starts demanding huge royalties from any and all companies that produce anything even remotely resembling a CCG?
  • by DanJose52 (55815)
    Wizards of the Coast is worse for card gaming competition than Microsoft is for fair computer OS competition. WotC uses strong arm tactics, high prices, and "extend and embrace" tactics to slowly take over the world of CCG's. (Collectible Card Games). I only hope that Hasbro will grab them and curb their craziness, allowing other, smaller CCG houses to spring up.

    Dan Turk
    op on undernet's Magic channel...#mtg
  • I won't give it "excellent," but "fair."

    "Good" would be sanctioned issued (at least entirely covering the fees incurred in litigation.

    "Excellent" would be a public bawling out by the judge, along with a formal referal to the bar association.
  • Well this case seems like the "first come, first serve" rule is still in effect. And I guess that's a good thing.

    Though sometimes it's a pain. Did you ever try to find out about Nissan cars and trucks at Nissan.com [nissan.com]? Well, you'll only see a cheesy frontpage site about a little computer store in North Carolina. Nissan the car company had the amazing foresight not to get Nissancars.com, or Nissan-cars.com, but Nissan-USA [nissan-usa.com].

    God I hate URLs with dashes in them...

  • Yes, but he stated that "anything electronic related" was protected. This example would not qualify...unless..I mean there are some "electronic" products that a "Smut Shack" might sell. If you get my drift.

  • The Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy developed by the registrars and provisionally adopted by ICANN would preclude name grab attempts like the Clue case. Trademark holders would no longer be able to go to NSI and have domains unilaterally shut off based on alleged conflicts, as Hasbro did. Instead, they would have to go before an arbitration panel where both sides would have the opportunity to present their cases. That's why the Hollywood types are organizing against the UDRP [cnet.com] - it gives them fewer extralegal 'rights' than the current NSI policy.

    While ICANN is far from perfect (it has allowed its focus on NSI to distract it from building truly representative governance structures), it is still a marked improvement over the present status quo. If ICANN were to fail, its replacement would be far worse - an international treaty organization along the lines of the ITU or WIPO. These organizations' track records suggest that individuals and small businesses would be even more badly disenfranchised under a successor regime than they purportedly are now.

  • I think that this purchase will lead to a lot more AD&D branded toys and merchandise, and perhaps lesser contribution to the art of role playing.
    I suppose that the same could have been said about wotc buying tsr to a lesser degree.

    btw, i feel that the whole .com hierarchy should be either restructured, or else priority given to the owner if its not being used to confuse with a trademark in the same industry or specialization.
  • Hasbro also owns Atari. You realize what this means don't you? AD&D for the 2600! Woohoo!
  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @10:54AM (#1691882) Homepage
    I'd definately agree with this one, and there are quite a splits that actually might make sense (as opposed to .web, .biz, etc.)

    Take for instance, media sources-- there isn't much conflict in that one, as those that are broadcast media have 4 letter designations in the US. There aren't too many magazines willing to get mixed up with each other, and neither are the movies. (sure, there may be crossover between them, but those are the breaks).

    As is stands presently, however, the TLDs are completely useless, except for .edu, which you actually had to prove. (and yet, a nursing school couldn't register as one, for some damned reason). .net is filling with non-isps. .org is filling with for-profit organizations. And .com is saturated with every stupid thing out there.

    Unfortunately, unveiling new TLDs, without having some major limitations will result in people flooding the registrars to get them, and more TLDs will be more difficult on the people who have enough problems remembering two letters, much less three. There's some solution out there, I just don't know quite what it is, though.
  • Let's not forget that D&D 3rd edition is scheduled to be released next summer/fall and will once again contain demons/devils, assassins, etc. The question is, will hasbro milk it for the money it'll generate( a new edition will generate millions ) or sanitize it because of their popularity and risk enraging the RPG consumers?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My solution is this:

    (1) All top level domains are valid (no longer restricted to .com, .org, .net, .ca, etc.)
    (2) To register a domain, the applicant is STILL REQUIRED to register names in two parts (2nd level + TLD). (e.g., foo.bar)
    (3) TLDs can be registered to no one, nor belong to anyone. They will forever remain free and available for anyone to use. (cannot register .bar)

    This would allow Apple computer to register apple.computers, and Apple Records to register apple.records, and some farmer to register apple.farms. Chevy could have chevy.trucks and nissan could have nissan.trucks. etc. Then the namespace is increased infinitely. And there is room for all.

    This would also put an END to squatting since it is financially impossible to register an infinite number of domain names. Microsoft cannot register microsoft.foo, where foo can be any string of up to 32 or whatever chars of any combination since that would cost (roughly) $70 * (27^32+27^31+...+27^1). Squatting would end. And Squatters wouldn't even be able to dump what they already have.

    Oh, and one more thing, once the unlimited TLDs go into effect. Prohibit domain name lawsuits. Make it a condition when you register a domain name that you can sue to acquire or sue to stop others from using their domain names.

    Thoughts?

  • The problem is that often might makes right. Take Gateway2000 for example. Their trademark was "Gateway2000" and all their computers and ads said so. A smaller company called 'gateway research', or 'gateway computing', or something like that had the domain gateway.com. Gateway2000 decided that they wanted to change their name to 'gateway' and since they were doing this, they ought to have gateway.com "to reduce confusion" Gateway2000 made a joke offer for the domain name ($10000 or so), so when the owner turned them down, they took it to court and won because "who had ever heard of the small company" I con't even remember what it is called now.
  • Hasbro will be purchasing Wizards of the Coast, Magic:The Gathering card maker, and owner of TSR, Inc.

    Tell me this isn't true??! PLEASE!! NOOO!!!
    *prepares to suicide*

    Kintanon
  • I still have something like 4000 cards between FA and Stronghold... Trying to sell them off now, but because only about 1000 are tournament legal no one wants them...>:\

    Kintanon
  • I just wonder why the geographical domains are not more enforced than they are? The .us domain is heavily underused. Suggestion: Make US-based companies use domains like .ca.us, .mn.us, .tx.us and so on, depending on where they have their headquarters. That would resolve a lot of the ambiguities out there. Reserve the .com domain for companies with representation in at least n countries, where n could be somewhere around 10 or so.

    A similar system is actually used here in Sweden, "small" companies can only register under .a.se, .m.se and so on (where the letter indicates in which part of the country the company is located). Likewise, private persons can only register under .pp.se . Seems to work so far.

    Another thing which would make the domains more easily handled is to make it harder to register product names as domains. Is it, for example, that much harder to write "www.company.com/product" than to write "www.product.com"? I certainly prefer the first variant. Some companies seem to register each and every product as their own domains, and that leads to a very cluttered namespace.

    Bottom line is, you just can't allow anybody to register any domain they want like now - there are only so many letter combinations before they start getting incomprehensible.

  • Hmm would a small toy company have a trouble holding TOYS.R.US against the massive Toys R Us chain if they registered it first? Or would the latter have to get TOYS.R.US.R.US instead?
  • Trademarks are registered within a geographical area. I've known of several cases where a company had to change its name because it expanded into areas where their name was already registered and in use. We already have a naming system that relates to geographical area. Simply make it the law that com is up for grabs and will hold now sort of weight in any trademark dispute; however, a corporation must defend their registered trademark in domain names that are registered in areas in that they are doing business.

    For example, Food Lion used to be Food King or some such name. They expanded into an area that already had a Food King, thus the name change. So Food Lion is a registered trademark in the state of North Carolina in the US. If I register foodlion.nc.us then Food Lion must hunt me down and make me relinquish my hold on the domain, or risk weakening their trademark. Company B can come in and name their corner convenience store Food Lion, and when challenged tell the judge, "Heh, they let HIM do it." So Food Lion would have every right, even the obligation, to make me surrender the name. But they would have no right whatsoever to foodlion.tx.us. Food Lion doesn't operate in Texas. So if the convenience store tried to use that to justify infringing on Food Lion's trademark, the judge would just laugh and fine them for stupidity.

    So it's simple. Amend the law to say that TLD names don't hold weight in trademark disputes. Let people squat all over them, let companies pay out the nose to get them, and let NSI make boat loads of money. Only the localized names will mean anything.

    People won't be able to remember all of those extra letters you say? Do you know the zip code of where you live (this is for US people)? Do you know any for Raleigh, NC? Of course not, unless you happen to live here. Why is that? Because you don't need to know it. All you really need to memorize is your own. And it'll become the same with domain names. And it'll acutally be more convenient this way.

    What do I do if I want to order a pizza? I pick up the phone. But I'm online. What if I could just go to the pizza houses web site? But that means searching the entire WWW to find a local pizza house. Now if I could just search through ra.nc.us...

  • From www.memepool.com [memepool.com]:

    Hasbro [hasbro.com] just bought Wizards of the Coast [yahoo.com] -- adding them to a harem which already includes Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers, Avalon Hill, Microprose, Playskool, and others. This means that a single company now produces Magic: The Gathering [wizards.com], Pokemon [wizards.com], Dungeons and Dragons [wizards.com], Civilization 2 [hasbrointeractive.com], Pictionary [pictionary.com], Scrabble [scrabble.com], Clue [cluedo.com], Tinkertoys [hasbro.com], G. I. Joe [gijoe.com], Furby [game.com], the Supersoaker [supersoaker.com], and, um, wait, what's that game about acquiring all the properties on the board? [monopoly.com]

    -Andrew

  • (Quick side-note: Apprentice is a FREE win32 program that allows gamers to play Magic: The Gathering CCG over the internet. It is sponsored and licensed by Wizards of the Coast. It can be downloaded for free at http://www.dragonstudios.com/ [dragonstudios.com]

    Development on Apprentice for Linux is moderately dead in the water right now. We had one programmer work up an early alpha version and nobody in our group was able to get it running. We have not gotten any more revisions since then.

    We're currently putting this on hiatus and the head programmer for the windows version (which is developed in Delphi), is waiting for the delphi development kit for linux that was announced not too long ago.

    Our focus is mostly on a Macintosh version of Apprentice right now, as we have a MUCH higher demand for this than a linux version. However, if there are programmers out there with a serious interest in helping us port or re-write a version for Linux, please contact me via email.
  • One more thing: you said "Well, I just can't wait for the use of domain names to be deprecated." Do you know something I don't about an alternative system that will take care of these problems, or are you just expressing the same hope that I share, that some such alternative will come along eventually?

    I guess mostly I hope that such an alternative will eventually show up. I don't know any good alternatives, and the moment, probably because I haven't looked. Although some kind of "directory service" would seem to be a good idea. Instead of using DNS, there should be a new protocol that returns a list of close web sites. For instance, I should be able to type in "clue" in my web browser and have a list returned that included

    • Blue's Clues

    • Clue Computing
      Clue's Card and Etc
      Clue's for You
      Hasbro - Clue Game.
    Voila!! Problem solved. You'd just click on the site you want, and it'd pop up. I sorta am able to do this now with whois lookup's, but very ineffectively. It could almost be a search engine, but instead of being based on web pages, it'd just be based on the name registered. -Brent
    --
  • A couple I can think of offhand:

    The Orchard Supply Harware chain wanted to open a store near San Jose. Turned out that there was already a store with the same name, older than registered trademark. They paid several times what the little mon'n'pop store was otherwise worth.

    The Mirage, in Las Vegas. Turned out that there was already a little flea-bite motel with essentially the same name. They paid millions just to take the name off.

    Disclaimer: IIAL, but this is not legal advice. See an attorney licenced in your area if you need some.

    That said: litigating these for the little guy would be expensive. With a few years of hindsight, the approach I'd take (as a little guy) would be to find a fresh lawyer starting his practice, or who wants to start one. Cut a contingency deal with him, and possibly lend him office space as part of the deal. Supply him with clerical stuf.

    ***AND*** = don't miss this, lest disaster strike!

    *pay* for a seasoned attorney to help him out. Generally, fresh lawywers takes space in suites with other lawyers, and knowledge freely flows (not like it used to; advertising killed that). But this kind of involvement is a lot more than the friendly exchange of ideas and advice. *do not* scrimp here. Nor should you expect the young lawyer to foot these fees (creates a major disincentive to ask the questions).

    Yes, it will still cost a lot. But structuring this creatively can work out well for both you and the new attorney, who wouldn't have the experience (or resources) to handle a case like this without the old warhorse.

    (But don't look at me to be that warhorse. I only do antitrust & other economic issues any more).
  • "Clue" is a common word.

    Exactly! No company should demand rights to a domain that is based on an 'everyday' word. If you name your product that, it's your downfall.

    Of course, you can be too successful and lose your branding, e.g. Aspirin, Sellotape, etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I really don't think this is true. As an avid gamer (RPG's and CCG's) I've played a fair amount of good games, and actually, only one (Magic) was printed under the Wizards label. For example, Wizards owns Five Rings Publishing, who publish fine games like Legend of The Five Rings and Doomtown. However, when you buy a pack they say "Five Rings Publishing" not "Wizards of the Cost" and, generally, Five Rings is for the most part, a seperate entity. Other publishers include Precedence, who publishes the L5R RPG and Babylon 5 CCG, and Decipher, publisher of the popular Star Wars and Star Trek card games, are doing very well for themselves. The only reason, I think, that Magic is as popular as it is, is because it was the first, which makes it that which everything else is measured by.

    Wizards, also, owns TSR. TSR used to be, in its own right, an RPG 'giant' owning AD&D as well as various other less popular games. Now there are companies like FASA (Shadowrun, Battletech) and White Wolf (World of Darkness, Abberrant)

    Unfair prices? I don't think so, nescesarily. Collector cards, from sports cards to Star Wars collectible cards, are generally hovering around 2.50-3.00 a pack, plus, with CCG's, it's like buying a game, not just cards to look at.

    Just my two cents.

    -Orion, Orion@geekmafia.dynip.com

  • Virtual Works claims NSI and Volkswagen have no legal justification for challenging its use of www.vw.net, which it said NSI assigned to the Internet service provider in 1996. A year earlier, VW was assigned the address http://www.vw.com, leaving http://www.vw.net unclaimed.
    I can't believe those people.. .net denotes an ISP, generally, so what do they think they have to stand on in their argument that www.vw.net should be given to Volkswagen? I can't believe a judge would consider taking a case like this... then again, the way the legal system in America is, I shouldn't be surprised.

    Nevertheless, I just hate it when I hear about NSI and the companies that do this kind of thing... I mean, honestly, they usually have no basis for their actions, because most people use the generic ".com" when looking for addresses (ok, well I would, if I were looking for Volkswagen, because ".com" is usually what general sites that their site would have... they sell cars, that's all. They're no organization, no ISP, certainly no government organization.), and so I don't see why/how they should also be awarded ".net". What do they need with two sites? (I know, I know... they'd both point to the same thing/host the same thing, etc.) Still, if people aren't smart enough to find VW (re: by trying www.vw.com), they don't need to be buying one,.. much less a car in general!
  • The solution is probably to get a directory for your directory services. I know I wouldn't be able to find a damned thing these days if it wasn't for some portal site or another with a search engine. As much as I hate "portals" they do come in handy from time to time. Obviously some of the essential sites still get bookmarked, but when looking for something it is much easier to go to Yahoo and type in a generic search subject than hope that I'm going to hit the proper web page by guessing the name.

    Take abit.com for example. You'd think it would be the motherboard manufacturer of the same name, but it is just some company selling motherboards that has happened to register a bunch of domains using the names of motherboard manufacturers. Slick marketing I suppose but not very useful for the consumer.

    As more and more companies start opening up a face on the web it's just going to get more crowded and confusing to the end user. How can it be resolved? Who knows anymore... like you said, more TLDs will just introduce more domain speculators, more confusion, etc.
  • I agree completely. The legal system works for large corporations because they have the $$$ to bend it to their will. This case is notable only because it's an exception to the general rule.

    "It's the golden rule - he who has the gold makes the rule."

  • by Synic (14430)
    Well, just as WoTC looks like they didn't kill off everything cool and are doing a good job with TSR's product line, now we have to fret about Hasbro screwing everything up again. :(
  • The way I see it people are forcing companies to grab many domain names. How many of you have ever typed a url out pretty quickly and hit a wrong key. Then 78 banners pop up and you realize your at a pr0n site. If people wouldn't abuse the system, there would be no need for companies to register all their names. But if Hasbro does not own clue.com , would some newbie typing that url in know that the site he found wasn't a part of Hasbro ?
  • Hey DANJOE!!! >:)
    WoTC was a better company when it was 10-15 people coming up with good ideas and producing them. Now that it is a multi-national money machine it has gone so far down hill. First they dumbed down the game, then they shafted the hell out of their older players (us). I'm surprised anyone still plays... It's a great game if you play by say... 1997 rules, but all of the new stuff is just crap!

    Kintanon ---Hangs out with Dan in MTG and harasses him.
  • anybody know of a 'Magic Suitcase' or other card db proggie for linux ? I'd love to have one that would directly import my whole database. I know I can set up several Linux db's to do it, and I've started setting one up, but it still not as handy as those dedicated windows card db programs. If anyone knows of one, feel free to email me. thanks.
  • Actually, the trademark for "Asprin" was lost due to the trademark owner (Bayer) being a German company, and Germany loosing the First World War.
  • have you thought about working with the Wine developers to port it ? or get it to run decently under wine. I see that you've got Magic suitcase now too. Last I heard WOTC made the guy stop working on it. I haven't gotten it to run under wine yet either, and haven't found a comparable Linux product. It'd be awesome if it got ported or if I was at least able to run under wine. Its one of the reasons I kept Windoze on my system for so long.
  • Hey, Rob's got to sleep every few days....
  • I'm not sure if this is technologically possible, but a mature solution would be:

    The small business gets a domain name like clue-computing-boston.com, Hasbro gets clue-hasbro-game.com, and somewhere there is a single web page under www.clue.com that says for Clue Computing of Boston click here, for the Hasbro Clue game click here, etc.


    For an example of this type www.slashdot.com That will take you to one of those pages which then directs to here, or a few other places that use slashdot for some reason.

    Kintanon
  • My company has gone on a domain name registration binge for some of our newer products, and some we haven't even signed a client on, "just in case" the deals go through. So, I'm forced to clench my teeth and mutter under my breath while I set our DNS up to serve a .com, .net and .org for each new domain they want. It makes me sick. At least they've stopped going through registration middlemen that charge $120 per domain...

    I've half a mind to suggest that they register .edu, .gov and .mil for each domain, but I'm afraid they'd take me seriously.
  • >They (WotC) bought TSR, and suddenly what became a part of the new Dragonlance expansion? Cards!?!

    Actually, the SAGA system came out before WotC bought TSR. And cards had been a part of D&D before that (Priest and Mage deck products...)
  • There are plenty of legitimate reasons to organize a boycott of McDonald's. Or Wal-Mart, or any one of a number of large corporations. Hell, I don't even care if something's being boycotted for a reason I consider to be BS -- all the more reason for me to support the company. Remember the Baptist boycott of Disney? 'nuff said. :)
  • Hmmm... a whole thread about someone's magic ass. The "news for nerds" reading is off the scale, but I can't hardly detect any "stuff that matters".

    Well, I'm sure glad we all know what your feelings are :-) In case you hadn't been paying attention this is "News for Nerds. Stuff that matters" not "News for Nerds. Stuff that matters to Moooo Cow". Of course this doesn't interest you. There a lot of stuff that doesn't matter to me either. But since it doesn't matter, I just ignore it. Perhaps you could try the same solution.

    -Brent
    --
  • Personally I think WotC did an excellent job w/ TSR. Since taking over, the game line for AD&D has been given a decent overhaul and they've done such great things as getting R.A. Salvatorre to come back and write another Drizzt novel. I hope Hasbro gives the current WotC hierarchy free reign in the area of it's RPG's.
  • If sites had to rely on promoting their IP addresses rather than their domain name, any marketing advantage or disadvantage to domain names would be removed. The legal issues with domain names to do with trademark infringements and squatting would disappear and mom&pop companies could coexist with large corporations on the internet quite comfortably. (eg. Clue computing and Hasbro)

    Existing trademark laws would still apply, but the focus would be on content and product rather than location. Also p0rn sites and other parasites would not be able to latch on to variations of popular site names, and it would be extremely difficult for them to get similar IP addresses.

    The only downside (though not for me) would be the loss of the monopoly by US companies on .com addresses...

    Any thoughts on this?

    M@T
  • I thought there was, at one time, a rule that basically was "One Organization, one Domain."

    That is, if Hasbro wanted clue.com, that would have to be their ONLY domain, so they would lose hasbro.com

    If this rule were enforced, all these problems would go away! Each company would have one, and ONLY one domain, squatters could only claim one name, unless they made a front corporation for each one. For what purpose does a company really need more than one DNS address? if they have many sites they can subdomain, like clue.hasbro.com
  • by phil reed (626) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @12:38PM (#1691925) Homepage
    According to corporate law, if someone can prove that you don't enforce your trademark, it becomes dilluted and your right to use it is weakened.

    This is only partially true. A trademark is limited in scope - usually to a particular area of trade. There can be no infringement outside of this area (with the exception of well-known marks). The classic example in the U.S. is "Delta". I can think of three right now - Delta Airlines, Delta Faucets, and Delta Dental (insurance). Despite the use of the same name, these three do NOT conflict as far as trademarks go.

    Well-known marks would include something like McDonalds, which covers so much ground that McAnything is going to have a problem (yes, I know about the McDonalds in Scotland, and there have been court cases in the U.K. about this very issue.)

    Hasbro is throwing its weight around. Based strictly on trademark law, I'd expect Hasbro to lose the appeals, since 'Clue' is not a well-known mark, and there's no significant cross-over between areas of trade. I just hope that Clue Computing can hang in there for the rest of the proceedings.


    ...phil

  • by emerson (419) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @02:34PM (#1691926)
    That would be an astoundingly bad idea.

    The problem is not that DNS itself is flawed; it's that people have chosen to try to use DNS both as a name-resolution system AND as a directory system.

    Removing DNS and going to raw IP addresses would break many many things that people rely on:

    -- Web sites routinely map a single name to a round-robin of IP addresses for load-balancing. It might be possible to do some kind of nasty reverse NAT to make this facility possible at the IP level, but we have things like DNS to facilitate not having to do nasty destination munging.
    -- Companies are currently able to reorganize their internal networks transparently; if your mail address was employee@xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx, and then the company wanted to move their primary mail server to a geographically different location, there's no way to point that IP address there without complicated tunneling wizardry. Easier just to re-point a DNS entry for mail.company.com.
    -- Companies change ISP's all the time, and IP addresses get reassigned from leaving customers to new customers. Imagine if you'd sent out thousands and thousands of advertisements, business cards, product boxes, and letterhead with your http://xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx address on it, and you went to a new ISP, and your competitor got hold of that address block from your old ISP.

    DNS was devised as an abstraction layer above IP addresses to allow tricks like this to happen conveniently, and give some sense of permanence to network addressing, in what's definitionally a change-prone environment. The fact that people have been abusing this abstraction layer for commercial purposes is (a) not surprising, and (b) not at all an indictment of the scheme itself.

    DNS is our friend; we just need to get some good rules in place as to how to resolve conflicts like this.
    --
  • They took the guy to court over it. The guy couldn't afford a lawyer so he had to represent himself and he did an absolutely *terrible* job at it too. (Then again, who wouldn't?) He lost his website, probably a ton of business, and a lot of money in the suit. And Fry's doesn't even bother to use the damned domain. Fuckers.

    I'm never shopping *there* (which is made easier by the fact that there are no Fry's on the east coast.)

    - A.P.
    --


    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • This is almost certainly off-topic; those who don't want to hear about this particular subset of role-playing gaming history should move on. But I feel as if I have to set the record straight, both as a rabid Ars Magica fan (and player) and as an Atlas Games playtester.

    First off: Ars Magica was developed originally by Mark Rein*Hagan and Jonathan Tweet when they were part of a start-up called Lion Rampant. ArM (as it's usually abbreviated) was kept by the company when - through a complex business morph - it became White Wolf. White Wolf later sold ArM to Wizards when their Storyteller line took off, and WotC provided some decent support for the game (even going so far as to hire Jonathan Tweet, who has since helped re-write D&D 3rd edition). Within about a year of their purchase, however, WotC decided to drop all their RPGs, concentrating on collectable card games (this was before they bought TSR, recall). Atlas Games jumped at the chance to buy the venerable ArM.

    Now, Ars Magica was a testing ground of sorts for White Wolf, and many of the game designs that premiered in ArM evolved and became the bases for the Storyteller series. To be honest, ArM had - and has - one of the most elegant magic systems in any role-playing game, and moreover, they worked from a historical perspective.

    In the Ars Magica community, few people have bad things to say about Atlas at all with their handling of the line. In fact, Ars Magica has become their primary cash cow, and they treat it with respect. Atlas has averaged three to four supplements a year since they purchased the game, and they have produced the 4th edition rulebook, which is widely considered the best edition ever, including the 2nd, which had long been called the One True Edition by Ars Magica diehards. With the money Atlas earned from Ars Magica, they bought the rights to several other games, including the flailing Feng Shui and the much talked-about Unknown Armies. To say that Atlas has buried the game is to do them a great disservice, as Ars Magica has been both a critical and a popular hit.

    Returning to WotC, however, they have become something of the Microsoft of the RPG world. They are ruthless, business-savvy, and bent on domination of their chosen market. The only company to really hold a candle to them within the gaming industry was FASA, which has since been divided up and acquired by Microsoft and Decipher (the former to expand their games with the Battletech line of computer games and the latter to bolster their credibility and get a solid money-making product in the form of Shadowrun). I have several friends within the gaming industry who have been very nastily burned in their interactions with WotC.

    Hasbro has also acquired not too long ago the strategy-gaming staple Avalon Hill, and although they claim that they will be reprinting about half of the former giant's catalogue, many hard-core gamers I know have despaired at the recent shake-ups in the industry and turned to more home-grown games. I seriously doubt that Hasbro will sink the D&D 3rd edition project, however, since WotC has a movie contract tie-in and at least one computer game tie-in in the works with third parties.

    In summary, however:

    • WotC = big and ruthless,
    • Hasbro = bigger and more expansive,
    • FASA = split into bitty bits by Bill Gates and a well-funded industry whipping-boy, and
    • I need to get a life.
  • Being in regular contact with the WotC/TSR guys (playtesting and whatnot), they are saying that for now it's business as usual, in web policy et al. I'm personally glad to hear that, having registered a domain relating to the new setting coming out for alternity, I would hate to lose it. More worrisome, though, is the Hasbro moral stance, as someone mentioned. If they start censoring D&D, Alternity, and other products based on the irate cries of ignorant parents, just because a product mentions a "devil", I'm going to be rather unhappy. According to the WotC [wizards.com] website, Peter Adkison (founder, CEO) will be chatting on their chat server tomorrow at 11:00 AM Pacific time. I've never had much luck with their chat server, though :(
  • Check out info here [fasa.com] and here [fasa.com].

    The merger should be completed by the end of the month.

    I can't find any info on the merger at the Decipher website, as they don't seem to have any corporate press releases up that aren't related to their games.
  • The holding company that owns FASA (and is partially owned by Weismann and his father, mostly his father), has been partially owned by Microsoft for several years. They simply took a larger, now-visible stake in the company.

    Right now Decipher hasn't bought FASA yet. They HAVE issued a letter of intent to buy. But all the details have to be hammered out yet. Speaking with Jill Lucas, and Bryan Nystul (of FASA) and several people over at Decipher, the deal looks pretty much done.

    Also, it looks like, after the initial 6-8 months of integration (which will probably be "turbulent"), it'll produce nothing but Good Things for all the FASA and Decipher properties. Not much OUTWARDLY is going to change. FASA's offices on 1100 Cermak will remain. FASA gets more funding and project support, as well as a better distribution channel. Decipher gets a fairly seasoned RP/Miniatures gaming division with some fairly hot properties both in the RP and computer gaming world (Shadowrun, BattleTech, MechWarrior.

    And I think it would be a mistake to call FASA an industry whipping-boy. They're fairly shrewd. How many companies in their industry have been bought and denatured by others like WotC? TSR, the 800 lb gorilla of the gaming world was bought by them. Now TSR-based products have all but made themselves irrelevant. Heck, they've taken to rehashing old projects to put new material on the shelves!

    FASA has neatly avoided this. They don't change, get more money, a bit more clout, and great distribution.

    The only part of FASA that Gates got was the FASA Interactive division (which also holds the old Virtual World properties). Currently they hold all licenses to computer games based on the FASA properties. MechWarrior4 (based off the Virtual World engine) will come from this division. And compared to the rather anemic, and bug-ridden Zipper Interactive offering (MechWarrior3), it's going to rock.

    I will agree with you on one thing. I think a buyout by Hasbro is a Very Bad Thing.


    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!

  • by brennanw (5761) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @09:32AM (#1691969) Homepage Journal
    Basically, while we all sit around and criticize these companies for throwing their weight around on smaller companies (don't get me wrong, I do it too), a company really has no other choice if they want to protect their trademark. According to corporate law, if someone can prove that you don't enforce your trademark, it becomes dilluted and your right to use it is weakened.

    So a company with a trademark must use draconian measures of enforcement when defending their trademark -- they have no choice if they want to prove that to a court that they're enforcing it. And since cybersquatting has been a problem in the past, companies are probably advised by their lawyers that they MUST track down ANY potential use of their trademarked name, even in situations where it won't apply.

    Of course, that means nothing to the poor small business owner (or private owner) who coincidentally is using a name that has been trademarked. It's certainly not fair to them at all -- and they don't really have the funds to defend against such matters, nine times out of ten.

    It seems like a situation where no one can really win. If a company wants to retain the rights of their trademark, they have to crack down in every situation (which is why Red Hat is doing what they're doing these days). On the other hand, there's no reason why someone in a business completely unrelated to the trademark should ever have to be pushed around by a corporations legal teams.

    The only way out of this is to either a) strengthen the rights of the people holding the trademark, so they don't have to enforce it all the time, or b) weaken the power of trademarks significantly, or even abolish it all together, so that no one can lay any kind of legal claim to a word or a phrase.

    Either option has its problems, but I think that abolishing trademark would be better than strengthening it -- if it were strengthened, companies would probably find it more "convenient" to force people who had trademarked words in their domain names to hand them over, even if the domain names were used in a way completely unrelated to the trademark itself. If that were the case, sites like ajax.org would have been instantly overrun and they would have had no legal recourse whatsoever.

    Hope that wasn't too disjointed...
  • Ars Magica was not a Storyteller game, like Vampire or Mage. It was not part of the line, although it did have a bit of background in common (Ars Magica was a game Mark Rein-Hagen co-developed with Jonathan Tweet a number of years before striking out on his own with the Storyteller series). The first two editions of Ars Magica, published by Lion Rampant, were excellent. Then White Wolf bought it and tried to integrate it into the World of Darkness (but never into the Storyteller system -- it always had its own rules). The result was the horrible Ars Magica 3rd Edition, which seemed bent on destroying Ars Magica entirely. Thankfully, White Wolf eventually sold the game, and it eventually ended up in the hands of Atlas Games. Although they don't spend nearly as much money as White Wolf on glossy glitz and appearance, they've greatly improved the game with their release of 4th Edition.

    Incidently, I'm a big fan of WoD and Storyteller games. But I'm also a big fan of Ars Magica, so I'm rather overjoyed that it finally landed in the hands of a company willing to do it justice with far better respect for the game than White Wolf ever had...

    --

  • This is a side question that I would like to see discussion on someday.

    I notice that a lot of folks here seem to hate so-called 'squatters' who reserve domains for money, presumably because some folks here work on that kind of thing in their day2day job. I also see some people ranting against overbearing big businesses that use piles of paperwork to overwhelm smaller registered owners for domains that they want (ie ajax.com and many others).

    What should be the 'rights' reguarding names and domains? First come first served leads to squatters, but trying to discern honest holders from large pushy companies seems difficult at times. And what about "name-grabbers" like George Bush Jr., who tried to grab all the parody-type addresses he could think of before announcing candidacy. Many of you folks work within the DNS system for a living, how do _YOU_ feel it should work?

    Random Speculation, pay no mind if you don't care...
  • by joq (63625) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @09:38AM (#1691977) Homepage Journal
    Its good that someone finally has woke the heck up over in the Justice System. No one really defined _what_is legal to register and what isn't. But you can waste money doing a trademark search.

    Lets quote NSI shall we

    Revision 03 Effective February 25, 1998 1. Network Solutions, Inc. ("Network Solutions") is responsible for the registration of second-level Internet domain names in the top level COM, ORG, NET, and EDU domains. Network Solutions registers these second-level domain names on a "first come, first served" basis. By registering a domain name, Network Solutions does not determine the legality of the domain name registration, or otherwise evaluate whether that registration or use may infringe upon the rights of a third party.

    This is solely written to deter themselves from suffering legal actions... point blank

    2. The entity applying for a domain name ("registrant") is solely responsible for selecting its own domain name ("domain name") and maintaining for the continued accuracy of the registration record. The registrant, by completing and submitting the Domain Name Registration Agreement ("Registration Agreement"), represents that the statements in its application are true and that the registration of the selected domain name, to the best of the registrant's knowledge, does not interfere with or infringe upon the rights of any third party. The registrant also represents that the domain name is not being registered for any unlawful purpose.

    Does this mean that if I registered "whatever.com" and three months down the line someone trademarked it, they can now sue me? Some of these laws are a joke... I can see whay they would make these laws being it would deter some moron from registering a site to make massive money, but there a Corporate entities who turn around and bastardize these laws as well

    3. Network Solutions neither acts as arbiter nor provides resolution of disputes between registrants and third party complainants arising out of the registration or use of a domain name. This Domain Name Dispute Policy ("Policy") does not confer any rights, procedural or substantive, upon third party complainants. Likewise, complainants are not obligated to use this Policy.

    More legal mumbo jumbo from a half assed registrar

    http://www.netsol.com/rs/dispute-policy.html

    6. Indemnity. The registrant hereby agrees to defend, indemnify and hold harmless (i) Network Solutions, its officers, directors, employees and agents, and (ii) the National Science Foundation ("NSF"), its officers, directors, and employees (collectively, the "Indemnified Parties"), for any loss or damages awarded by a court of competent jurisdiction resulting from any claim, action, or demand arising out of or related to the registration or use of the domain name. Such claims shall include, without limitation, those based upon trademark or service mark infringement, tradename infringement, dilution, tortious interference with contract or prospective business advantage, unfair competition, defamation or injury to business reputation. Each Indemnified Party shall send written notice to the registrant of any such claim, action, or demand against that party within a reasonable time. The failure of any Indemnified Party to give the appropriate notice shall not affect the rights of the other Indemnified Party. Network Solutions recognizes that certain educational and governmental entities may not be able to provide complete indemnification. If the registrant is (i) a governmental or non-profit educational entity, and (ii) not permitted by law or under its organizational documents to provide indemnification, the registrant must notify Network Solutions in writing and, upon receiving appropriate proof of such restriction, Network Solutions may provide an alternative provision for such a registrant.

    In other words money talks...

    What I wanna know is...

    What is Network Solutions going to do in a cross-registrar dispute?

    What if they weren't the registrars how are they going to handle things. And when just when are the court systems going to stop letting people twist laws?

    oh well back to work...
  • by blogan (84463) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @09:46AM (#1691981)
    "Clue" is a common word. An individual should be able to take any common word and make a domain out of it. It's the company's fault if they name their products single words that appear in /usr/dict/words or personal names (veronica.org dispute). It's the same with movies. If you want a domain for it, don't call it a single word. Make a creative name and your product would be more recognized.

    Also, it's a user's fault if they type in "www.clue.com" and assume they are at Hasbro's site. I'm sure there's a card in the box that gives the address, or people can type the company's name. Sometimes I just guess the URL if I'm looking for something, but I look at content if the site comes up.

    Are we to assume that if someone knows the name of a product, they should just be able to go to www..com and get there?

    Surf on over to www.thatonethingisawinbobsofficelastyearandwantedt ogetformybirthday.com :)
  • Liberal? Me? Please tell me you're joking. As a matter of fact, when it comes to politics I'm actually rather conservative. Hell, I'm even Christian, if you want to know the truth. Not to mention that I have the last two thirds of DWM (I'm a bit young to be divorced, or even married for that matter), just as you do.

    I am sane, however. I've seen what these people can do. I might add that at least to date I'm not boycotting anyone (by the way, what's "frankenstein food"; I've never heard anything called that). And yes, boycotts and such are "valid expressions of discontent with American life."

    And I don't agree with the liberals who boycott all that other stuff, either. But they aren't of any particular concern for this issue; when's the last time you heard a liberal arguing that RPG's were the tools of Satan and should be banned? (yes, I know some scream about supposed psychological effects on children, but I've never heard a signle liberal advocate banning them).
  • I should be able to buy and sell all the domain names I damn well please on a first cone serve basis. If I PAY for 5000 domain names. They're fucking MINE, and I can resell them for any amount I want. Or maybe I will just sit on them. No one has to buy them. And if I am to assume ALL THE RISK (of not being able to sell them), then I should receive ALL THE PROFIT when I do make that one big killing.

    Nonsense. Utter and dismal nonsense.

    Domains aren't "owned". They are registered and "leased". I think that the idea of "owning" a domain was the biggest mistake ever made. You register a domain and use it. When you are done with it, if you don't use it "forever", then it's unregistered and the next person to register for it starts paying for it. That's how the Domain naming system should work.

    You shouldn't be assuming any risk, because the domain names aren't intended to be a salable goods. It's no better then scalping tickets. If you think that you own domain names, what else do you own? Phone numbers? Do you buy chuncks of phone numbers so that you can sell them to the highest bidder? 1-888-cooldude; 1-800-your4us; 1-615-iamnice? How about post-office boxes. PO Box 666 might be valuable. Do you stand in line and offer to step up of line to the highest bidder so they can get closer to the front of the line? What in the world makes domain names any different.

    I think that whoever would "buy" the rights to a domain name from a third party is a fool. I will only get a domain name by registering it directly from a registrar, or legally getting rights to it through the court systm.

    -Brent
    --
  • by WilliamX (22300) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @01:49PM (#1691990)
    This is all going to become a moot point now, though. ICANN has developed a new Uniform Dispute Policy [dnspolicy.com] that very soon all new domain registrants and all renewing domain registrants will be obligated to abide by as a condition of domain registration. It makes NSI's dispute policy look like a friendly thing.

    The trademark and copyright interests are lobbying ICANN very heavily (including big money Hollywood interests [dnspolicy.com]) for stronger protection, even beyond what the law currently gives them. They can't get Congress, or even the courts, to back them up, so they are lobbying hard within ICANN, and ICANN is listening, not wanting to have to fight big corporate interests who are the ones actually paying ICANN's bills right now (see Follow the Money [dnspolicy.com]).

    Soon individuals and small businesses with find themselves in the position of having to do what Clue Computing did, be the plaintiff in a case suing to KEEP your domain name, since under these new policies Trademark holders won't be obligated to take you to court and prove infringement or dilution. You will have to prove you aren't infringing, thus shifting the burden of proof as well as the expense.(Clue Computing sued NSI to prevent implementation of the Dispute Policy)

    Not a very promising outlook.

    I've been advocating some sort of grass roots campaign [dnspolicy.com] to rally against these actions by ICANN, but some people just see that ICANN is fighting NSI and think that is a justification for them trampling our rights.

    --
    William X. Walsh - DSo Internet Services
    Email: william@dso.net Fax:(209) 671-7934
    Editor of http://www.dnspolicy.com/

  • I don't know if anybody has posted this, but here goes. The problem with domain names is that they are extremely limited (for instance, .com, .net, .edu, .org). This the legacy policy that we now have. Hence, there is an incredible amount of potential overlap between corporate names and other legitimate ones.

    In this freelance world of domain names, disputes such as the one with clue will continue to happen. This might be unpopular, but I would impose a rather draconian solution. Incorporated companies are given .com; in this case hasbro.com. Web sites associated with hasbro, such as clue, will be something like, clue.hasbro.com. The caveat to all of this is that hasbro can still register hasbro.net, or hasbro.org. However, they cannot force someone to give the name up if it was already registered. OTOH, with time, ppl will search check out .com sites if they are looking for corporate info.

    I know that they are working on additional domain suffixes. However, unless drastic measures are taken to restrict and control which domain can be registered and for what purpose, things are going to be real ugly during the next decade. Otherwise, the only unregistered domain in ten years will be gpqidnzw.com, or the only way to navigate the web will be by use of portals.

  • Sorry, you're wrong. There's no problem in principle with lots of new TLDs being created. Indeed, new country TLDs come along every so often, and of course it is intended to create a whole new gamut of TLDs like .shop etc.

    Every name server needs to know the address of a "root name server". If it doesn't know which server deals with a particular TLD, it asks a root server. That's how it works now. That's how it would work with lots more TLDs. No changes to the DNS protocols or servers needed.
  • If you think about it, a keyword list, and a name list, like the white and yellow pages, are the ways to go.

    This was worked out long ago by the phone companies. The actual address of a company is (mostly) insignificant and if you make it significant and easy, there aren't enough to go around.

    One phone number is mostly the same as another, with some exceptions. The differentiator is the name of the company and their type of business. Trademark law already covers companies naming themselves after competitors trying to steal their business, so whatever system we develop doesn't need to deal with this. All 'we' need to develop is a way for Apple Records and Apple Computer to share the WWW without being unweildly.

    Probably the best having a registry that stores the name of a company and a few (two or three) keywords about them, then you simply type in "Apple:Music" and the registry finds all entries with 'Apple' in the name and 'Music' (or synonyms) in the keywords, then automatically your browser replaces what you typed with the url, which except for bookmarking purposes is useless. (Like memorizing an often called phone number)

    Then, not having to rely on having the shortest, easiest url, companies could take applecomputer.com or applerecords.com or OrganicAppleOrchardsAssociation.com, wanting it to be descriptive and hard to mistake, similar to a trademarked logo.

    Trademark law should be ammended to say that having "Clue" (etc) trademarked in one context, not only does not give protection in other contexts (This is already in there), but specificaly does not give any rights in context-free situations, like clue.com.

  • by hawk (1151) <hawk@eyry.org> on Thursday September 09, 1999 @09:48AM (#1692007) Journal

    The outcome is clearly correct. The question is whether Hasbro should be sanctioned for an abusive filing for initiating the frivolous litigation.

    There are *many* categories of trademarks in the U.S. A trademark in one category does *not* in any way block the identical trademark from being used in another category. That Hasbro has registered "Clue" as a game would in no way stop Ford from building a car called "Clue."

    Somehow, Hasbro has gotten the idea that trademarks reach *much* farther in domain names than they do anywhere else. This is simply fallacious, and worthy of sanctions.

    hawk, esq., once again griping that judges in general are far too slow to use their authority to sanction frivolous filings.

  • Assume party A holds a name, and party B wants it. My take on a reasonable set of rules:

    1. Can B legally prevent A from using the name independent of whether it's a domain name or not? If they do so, then A loses the domain name just as they would any other name. Otherwise,
    2. If A owns multiple domain names, B has a legal right to use the name and does not already possess a domain name, A has to either give up the name or give up all it's other names. One domain name to an entity. Otherwise,
    3. If A does not belong under the TLD in question based on the appropriate RFCs and B does, A loses the name and B gets it. Businesses, for example, don't get to hold on to names under .org if an organization that qualifies for .org membership wants it. Otherwise,
    4. If A has not been actively using the name, they lose it. If they're actively using it and registered it first, they keep it.
    5. Opinions?

  • by Hobbex (41473) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @10:01AM (#1692013)
    Yes, I know that trademark law stinks too, and that in this particular case maybe it is what needs to go first: but the dns situation is just going to get worse and worse.

    There simply are not enough phrases around to give everyone a fair chance with a DNS system where no one cares about anything except the second level name in .com tld. I read on the original vision for the web (from CERN) the other day (it was linked here I believe) and it included critism for keyword systems, and yet what has DNS turned into: write "flowers.com" for flowers, "greetingcards.com" for Greeting Cards, "drugs.com" for drugs (not that kind, of course, that would not be fitting).

    The fact that DNS is controlled from the top down plays right into the hands of all kinds of abuse, everything from lawyer happy MN corporations, to NSI's constant monopolist practices, to the intervention of the American regime that is last thing we want on the Net.

    Will adding more tlds help? Hell no, companies are already buying out there domains in .org .com and .net, they will go ahead and buy them in .wtf as well.

    I can't say that I have a beautiful replacement in mind that solves all the problems, but we have to start looking for a decentralized, non-commericial, non-governmental naming system. The current domain name system is not, and will never be, anything but a bad compromise and a headache for the way the Internet has turned out.

    -
    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.
  • I'm not sure if this is technologically possible, but a mature solution would be:

    The small business gets a domain name like clue-computing-boston.com, Hasbro gets clue-hasbro-game.com, and somewhere there is a single web page under www.clue.com that says for Clue Computing of Boston click here, for the Hasbro Clue game click here, etc.

    Perhaps I'm dreaming, but let's say there was a mega-server somewhere. When you type www.name-used-by-many-people.com in your browser, you're shown a web page from this server that basically presents you with a set of links to all sites related to that name. Now all we have to do is find someone to maintain the mega-server and the lists (yeah that's the scary part).
  • Boys and girls, don't be so quick to conclude one way or the other about Hasbro's intentions toward WotC product. It's never that simple, and it's never that easy to predict.

    From the view of the mainstream business media, the motivation for the buyout stems from WotC's year-round product strength. "Magic: The Gathering" (aka "Crack for Gamers") and "Pokemon" are the current strengths of WotC proper. TSR and Five Rings Publishing, two of WotC's subsidiaries, produce powerful product in their own rights: D&D (TSR), Alternity (TSR), Marvel Saga (TSR), Fifth Age/Dragonlance (TSR), Legend of the Five Rings (FRPG), and Legend of the Burning Sands (FRPG).

    As you see, Hasbro has quite a lot of material for its branches to draw upon. It's more than places for new toys to come from. It's also a place for other media to raid for tie-in products. Hasbro, through Microprose, could make a Gamma World game for the PC using the Alternity RPG as a basis for a game engine. Hasbro can also use the Runequest name (and nothing else) with the upcoming 3rd Ed. of D&D as a new fantasy setting, and then turn around to sell toys of signature characters as well as computer or console games using the name and the rules.

    Hasbro isn't stupid. They know that they've got a damn good buy with WotC, so they aren't going to upset that cart. What they might do is use some of its might to consolidate loose ends for what it does control. For example, the Star Wars RPG is a West End Game product. Their dire straits make new product impossible, so that licence is up in the air. You'd better believe that Hasbro would assist WotC in acquiring that licence. (TSR has Diablo, Starcraft, and Warcraft already; this is not impossible.) The same could occur with regard to the L5R RPG; the next edition could become a D&D setting, if Hasbro so desires.

    Whatever happens, this will be very interesting and very important for the tabletop gaming world.
  • by jafac (1449) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @10:09AM (#1692036) Homepage
    I don't think that there should be a "mapping" between existing corporate trademarks, and domain names. I mean, I don't think that domain names were originally intended to be used that way, and with the nature of the internet, and the way domain names are (were) assigned, we were bound to run into conflicts.

    I think a new system of corporate registry is needed, whereby, a given "big corporation" that has it's name as a protected, registered trademark, can register it's name, and be assigned an IP, but doesn't necessarily need a domain name, because this "new system" does not consist of a user, typing the corporate trademark into the Location field of his or her browser.

    I don't know if there should be some intermediate "portal" or directory site one should go to first, in order to "hop off" to any given corporation, or whether browsers (or plugins) should add some kind of input field to the UI. It would seem to be more clean if there were just a page one could go to, look up the actual real corporate trademark name (Microsoft Corp. not Microsoft.com), and click on the link, and there you go, no ambiguity, no possibility of hitting some squatter site by mistake, and no need for Corporation X to send paralegal paratroopers in to do a man's job.

    The simple mapping of corporate names to domain names certainly is one of the great things about the internet that has attracted a lot of business (because it's SIMPLE for the enduser to understand and implement), but the limitations of using that system for something it was not designed to do are showing.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • WotC has been doing lots of different things, over the last couple years. The indecisiveness regarding Ars Magica, is just one example. And the Game Keeper, and WotC brand stores, were a terrible idea. It's generally considered bad form to compete with the resellers that are your lifeblood.

    And as far as cash cows go, Magic provides a relatively steady income stream for them, but Pokemon is the current cash cow. They are raking in a ton of cash of that one, at the moment.
  • by trims (10010) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @10:12AM (#1692038) Homepage

    I run one of the larger AD&D sites on the web (I get about 100,000 hits/month, even though I haven't updated it in a year... :-(

    Am I the only one that remembers the problems we (ie the gaming community) had with TSR over writing game extension and new rules? Thankfully, this sorted itself out, and WotC seems to have been content to abide by the TSR decision.

    I'm really worried about Hasbro, though. Given that they seem to have a rather (shall we say) zealous approach to "protecting" their Intellectual Property, I'm really worried that they might try to revert to the old ways, and start trying to stop alot of the independent authors of D&D material.

    I couldn't fight them if I got sued. I don't have the resources. This despite the fact that I've been EXTREMELY scrupulous about making sure none of the stuff on my site is lifted from TSR material. I'd have to close down, and that would be a shame.

    Hopefully, Hasbro will Do The Right Thing, and continue with the current policy. People writing new material for the TSR games help sell "Official" material. And I'm well within my rights to create such stuff. I just can't afford to defend myself in court.

    -Erik

  • I think It's simple.
    Do things as they were originally intended.
    Force names to be registered in 'good faith'.
    Obey guidelines about different TLD's.
    (ie: A business SHOULD NEVER be able to register name.com, name.org, and name.net, unless they are both a business, a network provider, and a non-commercial entity.
    Domains were meant to make things a bit easier, not to be the be-all-end-all of directory services.

    Do like .ca does. Anyone can have a .ca domain.
    BUT... if it's for a business, it has to be directly derived from or very closely related to the name of your business. If it's only in one province, you get a .bc.ca, or .ab.ca, or whatever. If you are in more than one, you can have a .ca.
    If you are a person who wants a domain, put it on person.city.pr.ca

    It seems clunky.. but if NSI had run the Internic as it should have been, and actually LOOKED at what they were registering, and forced them to be reasonable...
    (What about all the .com domains that have fraudulent information as to the business they are registered to? Shouldnt' those go? )

    There should never have been this many domains registered this fast.. people are to unwilling to be heirarchial.


  • by sethg (15187) on Thursday September 09, 1999 @10:22AM (#1692040) Homepage
    (1) Create a ".r" TLD. (We can't use ".tm", because that's the country code for Turkmenistan.) Only organizations with a registered trademark "foo" have the right to the "foo.r" domain. (If two organizations have the "foo" trademark in two different jurisdictions, then it reverts to first-come, first-served.)

    (2) Establish a convention whereby anyone who has the trademark "foo" in the country with country code "xx" can get "foo.r.xx".

    (3??) As a condition of taking "foo.r" or "foo.r.xx" domains, a trademark holder should relinquish any ".com", ".net", or ".org" domains they own that contain the trademark, so that the namespace doesn't become congested from large companies grabbing up every possible domain name containing their brand names.

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