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United States

US House of Reps. Bans "Cybersquatting" 143

sredding writes "The House has voted to ban "cybersquatting", the pre-empting of Internet domain names with the aim of selling those names to companies or people with trademark associations to them. " Sounds nice right? Well, there maybe some downsides to the bill. The Clinton Administration, however, opposes the bill, saying courts are the best place to settle disputes.
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US House of Reps. Bans "Cybersquatting"

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  • http://www.acm.org/usacm/trademark.html

    The big fear seems to revolve around the $100k penalty - even if no damages are found to occur. That sort of threat could force a small business to simply give up - rather than face costly legal battles and possible large fines.

    The ICANN policy which submits disagreements to arbitration (paid for by the complainant) seems a lot more likely to be fair to smaller organizations.
  • Unfortunately I have not been able to locate an on-line version of the bill, and so I can't talk to the specifics other than what the news wires have carried. If anyone finds the text post it here, so we can all look at it.

    Anyway, with the regular caveat that "I am not a lawyer (IANAL)... I think I am with the majority on the idea that "cybersquatting" is bad, however, I don't think that there is really an effective legal remedy to the problem. Here's why:

    1. Because the courts have generally held that parody is a protected form of free speech, some or all of this law may in fact be unconstitutional.
    2. Leaving it to the courts doesn't necessarily work either, because often, the side with the most legal $ wins.
    3. Calling a domain name "intellectual property" is deceptive as well, because in reality, a domain name is just an "advertising cover" for an IP address.
    4. This leaves the gray area of trademark infringement as the only valid area of law that I can think of which covers the problem.
    The only thing that I can think of that might work is for the domain registrars to include a provision in their registration documents for binding arbitration in the event of a contested domain name. Please correct me if I am wrong, but this would mostly take the issue out of the courts, and seems like it would be a useful remedy for the majority of the "cybersquatting" problems which might come up in the future. (I don't know how this would apply to previously registered domains, unless it was made a requirement upon renewel of the registration)

    Comments anyone?

  • They got there first. Tough cookie. Do you automatically expect to find your local baker on baker street? No? I thought not.

    //rdj
  • This dosn't stop civil sutes.
    At first I was hoping for something that would deal with all thies people doing nothing more than snagging up domains for resale.
    Mind you most of the good names are in use but the few left overs are being held captive and thats not fair to new busnesses.
    But this won't do anything about that.
    This law is really redundent anyway. It dosn't do anything not allready covered by IP law.
  • It takes very little effort to come up with a cleaver name.
    Example:
    Story where the good guys hunt down a super powered cybernetic killer [not a very creative plot BTW]
    name: CyberDeath.com, PsycCom.com, DigitialDeath.com

    Busness: Sells CDs with PD, Freeware and Shareware on them [I think we all know a few of those]
    InfoMania, Futerama[ok so thats a TV show], ZenDisk, OpenCD

    Just add .com and theres your domain.

    On the other hand a patent usually takes a great deal of effort to develup... at least thats the idea.
    Example: New microprocesor design
    How ever some patent reform is in order to get rid of "genertic" patents..
    Example: Ability to save credit card numbers on webserver..
    Compression technology that gets widely used for years before the patent holder says anything..
    [How long can a patent go unenforced before it becomes invalid?]
    And my all time favoret.... patent on a COLOR!!
    Barbie Pink...
    Should you really be able to do that?

    Enough rambling from me :)
  • Looks like i am now going to be forced to trademark my domainname before some loser comes along and does it I guess. Am I reading it right?
    I figured that since I am using the name in a commerical application on the web now then I should be protected but maybe not.

    Malice95
  • Right... and we expect that law enforcement will know the difference.

    I wouldn't bet on it.

    The law is ambiquous enough that lawyers will fight either way knowing that most people will sell their precious domain name if enough cash is waved in front of them.

    In the end, the losers will be those that lack the capital to fight it.

    cheers
    sand

    cheers,

  • Yeah, and when they threaten to take you to court, and you find out that if they win, you could be fined $100,000.00, you are going to be MUCH less likely to stand by your principles.

    In short, this bill puts a huge weapon in the hands of big corporations to intimidate the little guys and force them to give up their domain names.

    Would the guy who successfully won the battle over "clue.com" have done so if the stakes were so high?

  • I hate to side with the Clinton administration on anything, but after reading the ACM statement, I wholeheartedly agree that this law favors the big corporations and is a bad idea. By the way, I am going to re-include the link within the proper tags so that other /. readers can click to it directly. Here it is:

    http://www.acm.org/usacm/trademark.html [acm.org]

    Thanks for the excellent reference.

  • If the courts are the best place to decide, I wonder where they get their power of decision from? They can't just make up laws; they can only re-interpret what the legislative branch gives them. So the only way to deal with this IS by making a law. Now whether this is the right bill or not is a question.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @06:12AM (#1583472)
    1. Eliminate the 90 day grace period for payment. A lot of squatters are using scripts to re-register every 90 days to keep names without ever paying. Make it so it must be payable (by CC) up front at time of registration.

    2. Create a FLOOD of easily available 3 letter extensions (.biz, .inc, .sex, .usa, .etc, and at least 20 to 40 more) many of which are pretty catchy sounding and would water-down the value of .com making it less attractive to snap up in the first place. To grab exclusivity on a domain name would mean having to grab ALL the extensions which could be difficult and expensive. (especially if you have to pay up front like suggestion #1)
  • If somebody registers a domain to sell it, good for them. They got there first. If it really is a problem, and Internic's functions will soon be apportioned out to several companies who will compete for registration, I imagine that cybersquatting could become much like spam. Maybe this is optimistic, but most people don't tolerate spam...even though it makes lots of money, so most probably registration services probably wouldn't tolerate cybersquatting (you rent it, but we own it - no subletting!). MegaCorpX.com should still, for there own interests, be allowed to gobble up MegaCorpXSucks.com, ScrewMegaCorpX.com and IHateMegaCorpX.com.

    Thank you, but this legislation is far too socialist for my taste. I don't like cybersquatting, so I won't endorse it. But this legislation is ridiculous - "You cannot register a domain name that could be confused w/ someone else's? Physical addresses are confusing, but they're allowed to look similar. No, this is bad news in the long run, because its just more restrictions on the net. This is bad medicine.

    I don't think this legislation is even necessary. It's kinda like spam, people really just need to become a policy like "I never purchase anything advertised in unsolicited mail". I know I wouldn't get a domain name from anyone but Internic. So, if you come out with Pooky, and someone's registered Pooky.com, then you go out and get PookyWorld.com or something like that - don't offer to buy Pooky.com. Take pixel.com [pixel.com] as a great example. Prime real estate - not used for anything. Cybersquatter? Not in my book: squatting is when you don't pay for something - you're just there.

    I probably sound like a squatter myself by now, but I'm not. Squatting is bad, but its better than banning it. (And I've seen the documented .sig's that seem to agree with this).

    "Kill the head and the body dies." - Hunter S. Thompson
  • Arg, nevermind... I thought my post would end at -1, now it's up at 5. I guess I had something insightful to say, even if it's (slightly) offtopic!
    "Knowledge = Power = Energy = Mass"
  • Like most people, I too have mixed feelings about this.

    On the one hand, I can't stand cybersquatters, who do abolutely nothing with the domain, but just wait for a catch [ebay.com]. How many times have you been to a website that says "still under contruction" or "this domain has been parked"? It is also painful to see time/money wasted in courts to straighten out these people.

    But, on the other hand, laws like these only make the situation more precarious. Trademark holders are certainly going to abuse the power, bringing more innocent people to their knees [internetnews.com]. Has "slashdot" been trademarked? If not, what prevents an organization from registering the trademark (even much later), and then bringing charges against Rob Malda? I know the Cyberpiracy Act is supposed to be aimed at cybersquatters, but I fear the power is going to be abused anyway. The Act is not going to reduce litigation by drawing clear lines. It is going to reduce litigation by letting Big Companies intimidate weaker ones.

    What is the solution? The simplest thing (and IMHO the best) is to dissociate trademarks from domain names. You say, "Hey, that isn't fair! Apple Inc. should have every right to hold apple.com. It shouldn't be arbitrary!". I say, I don't know about you, but, what I do is this: if I want to find a company/product on the web, I type in a few keywords into a search engine, and then follow links from there. I couldn't care less what URL hosted the website. If I find the site interesting and worth returning to, I bookmark the site. More often than not, I never have to remember the URL or have to type it into a browser. If this is how most people work, then whether or not Apple Inc. holds apple.com is moot. Isn't this how we behave with telephone numbers anyway? I don't bother remembering telephone numbers most of the time. I just check the yellow pages as necessary. All that matters is the search engine/directory.

    Sreeram.

  • Are the Clintons patent/trademark attorneys? Since it seems that the majority of domain name cases that I've heard about are trademark infringement cases it seems the lawyers most likely to benefit would be IP lawyers.

    It seems to me that what should be protected is the actual phrase that is a trademark/copywrite. Sound alikes shouldn't be protected.

    Given how much the US government and justice system seem to understand IT (read: less than that idiot who used his/her CD-ROM as a cup holder) I think it is a good idea to allow these type of cases to be decided in the courts. Maybe then some of these people will begin to educate themselves at least a little bit about the computer industry. As it is, they seem to be listening to every person that shows up claiming to know something about IT. How can the government make decisions about the Internet(or the IT industry in general) when it doesn't even understand the bare basics? Like which is the browser and which is the operating system or what a cookie is. If this stuff keeps turning up in courts they may actully begin to absorb some of the information. I'm not saying that all of the politicians and legal types are uninformed, but most seem to be.

    I think people who work in the US government and the justice system could benefit by a short course in the basics of IT. After that, they can go to the experts. They'll still get left in the dust by people who understand these technologies, but some of the truly silly ideas they have about IT might evaporate. (Al Gore invented the Internet!?)

    Talveren
  • by Wah ( 30840 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @06:20AM (#1583477) Homepage Journal
    The bill's sponsors, Representatives James Rogan (R-California) and Rick Boucher (D-Virginia) say it will boost consumer confidence in legitimate e-commerce companies.

    umm, what does that have to do with protecting consumers? Comsumer confidence?, WTF! If they were "a legitimate e-commerce company", they'd already own their domain. That's all this is, a way for government to protect slow-moving behemoth corporations that didn't realize that the Internet was a big deal. My guess would be that Rogan and Boucher met with a number of businessmen in their states who compained about somebody taking their god-given right to a domain name, regardless if someone else might have a use for it, after they (like the former CEO of my company) said "the Internet is a fad". There is no need for this type of legislation. We already have copyright/trademark law. Why make more laws? (oh, yeah, they are "lawmakers", harrumph)
  • Everyone seems worried about how this will stop people registering similar-looking names... that's not the problem.

    The problem is those enterprising guys who get in fast with a useful domain, run a legitimate site off it, and then attract the attention of The Big Guy(tm). Big Guy hits Little Guy with a lawsuit. It doesn't matter whether or not the lawsuit has a hope of winning, or whether the claim is legitimate. Little Guy invariably doesn't have the resources to defend himself, and so must give up the domain by default.

    Now I know nothing about the American legal system, and the CNN article doesn't give me much insight. But the way I read it, if the bill makes it a criminal offense, then it's up to the US equivalent of the Director of Public Prosecutions to follow up. This would mean that the decision to prosecute lies with an essentially neutral third party - who is much more likely to decide that an individual is making real use of a domain and is not interested in selling - rather than the lawyers of Big Guy who will happily take the risk of losing on the basis that they probably won't have to fight the case at all.

    If, on the other hand, it's a civil matter, then this is just one more weapon for the Big Guy on top of trademark infringement, and a completely redundant one at that. Oh well.

    Dave

    --

  • I've been watching this debate for a while, and like most (rational) people I've come to the conclusion that it's a bad thing. Unfortunately, it does sound reasonable. The Guardian had a story [newsunlimited.co.uk] on the subject (registration may be required; can't remember) that points out how nasty those cybersquatting bastards are, so the politicians are pandering to the laziness in everyone who couldn't be arsed digging beyond the superficial squatiness of bradpitt.com.
  • The Wired link (used as the link for "downsides") doesn't seem to elucidate *any* downsides to this bill. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with it either, at least the way it's worded. Hopefully, if this thing becomes law, the courts won't interpret it to mean "you can no longer register trademarked words, even if you have no malicious intent." I'm confident they won't.

    - A.P.
    --


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

  • by Enoch Root ( 57473 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @05:03AM (#1583481)
    Ok, so let's say you bought the domain name 'hastalavista.com' to proclaim your love of Terminator's catchphrase. That's legit, surely. Still, Alta Vista could rule you're too close to their own name.

    Let's say you love white horses. Off you go with www.whitehorse.org. Is that too close to whitehouse.gov?

    What I'm saying is, it's downright silly to do this, because it's unenforceable. You'll always stumble upon examples of domain names that closely resemble an official one, but only as a coincidence. That means it's a law that'll have to be debated over and over again before the media.

    Secondly, what about fair use? Isn't it fair use to do a parody site? If it is, then what about a parody site with a parody domain name to go with it?

    The truth of the matter is, the Government feels that people are going to the wrong domain names because they can't tell a Government site from a normal site. So what? The same happens if you dial a Government phone number and end up dialing Luigi's pizza by mistake. Should they ban phone numbers closely resembling Government numbers, too?

    Third, why is the Government allowed to protect the integrity of their websites, whereas the user cannot? What says that the US Government can have precedence when it comes to choosing a DNS entry?

    Imagine, for instance, that the Government launches a site called 'www.slashdot.gov'. Can they then, were that bill passed, claim that Slashdot.org is using an illegal DNS entry? Why can't it be the opposite?

    Let's hope this law is shot down before it becomes a reality. Not that I worry too much: it's gonna be unenforceable anyway.
    "Knowledge = Power = Energy = Mass"

  • by Nate Fox ( 1271 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @05:03AM (#1583482)
    Assuming this passes...
    Say Joe Schmoe from Finland has a 'great' idea, registers someproduct.com, and pisses off company X, cause they have a trademark with 'someproduct'?
    Whos gonna handle this? The US? Does the US have jurisdicton in other countries like that? Does this bill only 'work' if both parties reside in the States?

    -----
    If Bill Gates had a nickel for every time Windows crashed...
  • Interesting. It sounds like it has potential.

    Does anyone know how often the Clinton administration has before takend an "allow the courts to decide" stance?


    --
    Max V.
  • > Domain names are the addresses computer users enter to access a particular Web site. They come between "www" and "com," "net" or "org."

    Aaaaaargh. They come before ".us", don't they? :]

    > the Clinton administration opposes the legislation, arguing that the best place to resolve domain-name disputes is in the courtroom.

    Like how are they arguing? I see no links, no discussion... I don't think taking everything to court is a particularly productive way of settling every little dispute under the sun, although it might be considerably better than domain-names being bought-out for ever-escalating sums. Can't they just agree to let some friendly InterNIC-derivative have absolute control over what domains an organization is allowed?

    Looks like pretty lousy "reporting" (CNN? I thought they were going up in the world?) and some bad ideas..
  • well actualy it is enforcable, go to www.furnitureshowroom.com, that company just buys domain names and does nothing with them that is cyber squating.
  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @05:07AM (#1583486) Homepage Journal
    Before others go off on similar paranoid rants, read the articles that were linked to. This law applies to domain names registered with the intent of selling them to the trademark holders. You can register "hastalavista.com" and whatever the hell else you want as long as you don't try selling it to Paramount.

    Augh.

    - A.P.
    --


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

  • by geekfuzz ( 71255 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @05:08AM (#1583487) Homepage
    It's so frustrating to hear things like "The place for domain disputes is in the courtroom." I don't know about anyone else, but quite frankly I'm fed up with my tax dollars being wasted on useless lawsuits. I don't want to help pay a judge's salary so that he/she can preside over these frivilous suits. Personally I'm rather torn on the issue. If someone is truly just squatting for the cash that might be made, smack them. That's just abuse of the system of freedom all of us have found and fought to protect with the Internet. But if you're using the domain for a legitimate purpose, and some corporate bully wants to yank it, I draw the line. Like AJ Reznor [slashdot.org], a man who has every right to keep his domain regardless of what Thomas & Betts says.

    On the other hand, isn't the .com domain supposed to be for commercial use? Hence the "com"? Thus, it makes at least logical sense that, unless the site is being put to commercial use, a company should have prevalance over personal webspace. Is this the case? I honestly don't know the answer to that question. Is this becoming more fuel for the opening of other domain extensions?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    How do international companies register domain names? With my US-centric living in a closet viewpoint, I just always assumed that everybody went through Network Solutions and that was the end of the story.

    Every day I see a little more of what's going on outside these United States, and I have to wonder how the US can claim to have so much jurisdiction in the internet, which is a truly world owned medium.

    If everybody goes through NSI, then I can understand how the US can at least claim some right, even if that claim is unenforceable.

    I often wonder how long it will be before the internet or some other global factor causes the genesis of some official world government that will hold jurisdiction over multi-national issues like this. I know that's one of the ideas behind the UN, but they don't have the scope for something like this.

    Politics will probably get quite interesting in the next couple of decades as more and more issues become global in scope. Zurich Orbital could be a reality in our lifetimes.

    I think I'm gonna get some practice communicating views to my congressman now so I'm better prepared to help steer the directions things go.
  • I was looking for a domain name for my website recently, and found that almost every (decent) variant of what I wanted was taken. Looking at the whois, I saw that some of these domains had been registered years ago, and no website had been created. If they are actually using the names (e.g., for e-mail) then fair enough - but its a pretty good guess that they're just occupying the names (and a useful names at that).

    In another case, all the town names in England (even my village name!) have been registered by one company, that intends to put up the same structured website for each town detailing the shops, etc, in that town. Now this rankles me (although legally I have no right), because how can they, on the other side of England, possibly know what is best for our village? What's more, they intend to sell 150 of the names to cover their costs. At least they are trying to do something useful with the names though, and its a project to watch.

  • http://thomas.loc.gov /cgi-bin/query/C?c106:./temp/~c106QzBMOQ [loc.gov]

    None of the scenarios anyone has presented look (to my untrained eye, at any rate) like they're covered:

    1. It only covers trademarks that are distinctive at the time of registration. So somebody can't register a trademark and then go after someone who previously had the domain registered.

    2. If it comes to trial, the court is suggested to consider issues such as any (other) trademarks that the person registering the domain may have referring to the domain name, whether the domain name consists of the person's legal name, prior lawful commercial use, lawful noncommercial or fair use, etc.

    Read the bill. The last time this came up, a number of people noted that it was actually well written.

  • You're not squatting; the definition the bill is going by is that you are holding the rights to that domain name to strictly only make money off selling it. Additionally, this doesn't sound like a trademarked name that the battle is over. And you said you also are using said site purposefully and thus aren't 'squatting' on it. You should be in the clear (Of course, IMNAL).
  • How do you measure the 'intent' of someone who has bought a domain name?

    There is no need for this law. It's excessive. Current law completely protects copyright holders' rights to their intellectual property.

    This is just pompous laziness by Big Government's corporate appeasement sector.

    ...would bar the bad faith registration or trafficking in domain names that are identical to or confusingly similar to a distinctive trademark.

    How does one know if "hastalavista.com" has been registered in bad faith?

    The law is unnecessary.
  • It's worth noting that this is hardly the first time this has happened. When companies realized it might be useful to have 1-800 numbers which spell out easy-to-remember seven-letter phrases, there were a number of entrepreneurs who bought certain 1-800 numbers and sold them off to the highest bidder. As far as I know, there were no lawsuits ever about this.

    Not exactly the same case, but an interesting thing to compare cybersquatting to.

    Francis Hwang

  • After all, my domain (a .com, even though more and more I'm doing free software now) was taken from my original name for my recording studio.
    The name? airwindows.com [airwindows.com].
    You tell me a certain entity isn't going to consider everything with those latter seven letters their property... I'm depending on (1) apathy, and (2) my right to sit on the name as it is MY trademark dammit, and I registered the domain over a year ago and have been using the name in business since 1994.
    There's no way I can possibly take anything to court, so if I do get trouble my only option is to make publicity. I just hope that is never, ever necessary.
  • Now, they will buy these names, make some hooey company or something to make the domain seem legit to skirt this law. When time comes to sell it, they can claim it has more value, because there are already current vested business interests from all the chrome added to the domain.

    That won't happen unless the squatter is incredibly stupid. What you're saying is that they would have to result to fraud to add value to the domain name. It's one thing to create a shell company (which often happens for perfectly legitimate reasons), but to claim it is an operating company that generates value is a whole other story. If it went to court, any business valuation analyst [appraisers.org] could easily determine that the company has no value, therefore blowing away any imaginary value placed upon the domain name.

  • I remember back in the Mosaic days that as the web was developing, people were suggesting that users would not have to memorize addresses, but would only be there for the power users. Instead, the average user would use bookmarks or search engines to get the page they wanted. Then e-commerce started that and perverted the whole thing.

    You know, putting two and two together, I wonder if all this legal crap of late regarding the web is due to the bitterness that e-commerce has on not sucking up the web before.

  • You are right, the judiciary interprets what the legislative branch sends them.(But only if a case concerning it comes up)
    Remember from history class the 'checks and balances'? That's where their power comes from.
    We already have trademark laws protecting names. One or two court cases (if there havent already been) will probably decide the case. (which may or may not be good).
    Like was stated earlier. The Clinton administration is the trial lawyer's favorite. I hate to agree with Clinton on this one, but he may be right.
  • Every day I see a little more of what's going on outside these United States, and I have to wonder how the US can claim to have so much jurisdiction in the internet, which is a truly world owned medium. Well, some people say we own it, we after all devised the whole damn thing. Remember the internet is a product of the US Military.
  • When one schmo buys up a number of names that *just happen* to all coincide to what very large investment banks want, and these names *just happen* to have absolutely nothing to do with the schmo's business (personal or commercial), and then *just happens* to call up the investment banks and solicit large (re: multiple orders of magnitude greater than the original price) amounts of money for the domains, which *aren't* being used -- it's pretty darn clear.
  • Finally, people have forgotten what the internet is all about - information exchange. Now it has attracted the attention of the soulless giants of corporate America, and from now on, we'll have to deal with the excrement byproducts of corporate greed - lawsuits and restrictive legislation. No, I don't agree with cyber-squatters; they are even greedier than the corporations they supplant. But the problem lies in that of using the internet for commerce - any time there is money involved, legislation will follow. The easiest forseeable solution is to create a substantial distinction between the commercial and non-commercial side of the net. Oh, wait, that exists - .com. But very few people on the net today know the difference between .com and .org, or any other extension, for that matter. Thus, because many people don't know the difference, any use of a "commercial trademark," regardless of the extension, will translate into infringement, regardless of which agency makes the decision.

    Corporate greed is about to spoil the party, folks. Unless we can create a very visible division in the internet between the commercial and non-commercial, we will be forced to deal with more issues like this in the future.
  • I am looking to start my own website, and get a domain name.

    Go to www.networksolutions.com and get miffed.

    I cannot get anything normal anymore, somebody bought it up.

    I gotta pay some jerk for the name now, more than the 70 bucks for two years.

    Or, I can find some stupid, long drawn out URL.

    Well, you can say that this is free enterprise in action. And we should all have a right to this.

    BS

    The little guy gets hurt as usual.

    No sense crying.... Boo hoo.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sounds like to me the House o' Reps is trying to ban Capitalism. If you want something, and I buy it first, tough shit! You now have to pay me for the damn thing Muhahahaha.... Look I don't care for "cybersquatting" anymore than the next guy . . .unless I stand to make a bundle off the domains I'm sitting on ;) But I really DO NOT want the government telling what I can and cannot buy in a so-called "free market" society, but if this does go though can I sue Wal-Mart for buying up toilet paper, and then having the nerve to make me pay for it? A domain name is not right or a privilege, just because you have trademarked name, or catchy phrase should not entitle you to a specific domain name . . . should it? And what about all th political candidates who buy up all the "negative names" such as Buschsucks.com, etc.? isn't what they're doing considered "cybersquatting?"


    "Of course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong" -Dennis Miller
  • what I'm wondering is what if some person/group/whatever puts up a website (say slashdot) and it's not trademarked, but it's a well established site with lots of regular hits.. now what if a company decides they want to get the trafic from slashdot, so they name their company slashdot corp, and trademark it - would they then be able to take-over the slashdot.org domain name under this law??
  • The text of the bill can be found at

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c106:1:./t emp/~c106sheYoO::

    This is the "Introduced in the House" version. The "Reported in the House" version is also available.
  • Got a business plan there?

    I think that the law prevents you from trademarking something that is aready in use, much like the case with the idiot who tried to trademark Linux.

    Still, you are in better shape if you go the official route. There are trademark web sites that you can use to search for existing trademarks, and get information on how to register your own trademerk.

  • Two very good suggestions. There should definitely be many more generic top level domains. This would, however, create a goldrush of people trying to register domains such as hot.sex, free.sex or chicken.sex

    Did I say chicken.sex? I mean normal.sex, honest.
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @07:18AM (#1583512)
    Hmm.. he's a lawyer.. his wife's a lawyer... most of his friends are lawyers... I wonder if there's a connection?

    I hate to clue you in like this, but the fact is that 90+% of elected officials in the US are lawyers. It is not unique to the Clintons. Putting lawyers in charge of making the laws is like giving Doctors the power to make diseases. Republican or Democrat, there is no difference in this regard.

    Huey Long gave a wonderful speech in the 30's where he describe the difference between the two political parties as two mule skinners working to skin the mule. One starts at the head and works down, the other starts at the feet and works up.

    As a former and very insightful boss of mine once noted, the legal profession of the US has become an industry in it's own right. It is self-sustaining and self-perpetuating all on it's own. There is nothing that you or I can do to combat this without radically changing our society.

  • Any action in the United States requires that it pass both the House and the Senate...



    From the linked article: "The Senate in August approved a similar bill..."



    ...then it must be signed by the Executive.
    I think that it's safe for Hemos to assume that the vast majority of /. readers who would be affected by this bill (ie US citizens) have already completed their 8th-grade civics course and understand the situation.



    The House cannot "ban" anything.
    Au contrair. Spending measures must originate in the House. The House thus has the explicit power to ban specific instances government spending or taxation by not passing the bills that would make it possible. In practice, this is a moot point...
  • Hmm, it looks like both Nike and Microsoft are going to take you down!! :)

    P


    Pope
  • Checking out the whois database, I noticed that the majority of names are not used. I mean, I just hit my head against the keyboard, attached a .com after the result and THAT was also registared!!! There is no nslookup or anything that I can find.

    Maybe we should have a regulation that states that "if the domain name is NOT attached to an actual server after 270 days that it goes back into the pool". (the 270 was just made up out of my head). Kind of like DHCP and leases. This way you can't just squat on a domain for a long time or you will loose it. Maybe even get a refund (with a small penalty taken out).

    Just a thought, what do you think?

    Steven Rostedt
  • The one thing that has always troubled me about how NS always did things is that it seemed they were always more interested in getting their $75 bucks than regulating the domain names. They never considered the ramifications of granting anyone any string of numbers.

    With that being said, why don't they 'file' for domain names? If I want to build a deck on my house, I have to go to City Hall and get a building permit...why should the internet be different? If you really want a domain name, the apply for it stating your intent. After you apply for the domain name, a pannel/council(hopefully constructed by region) weighs the application purely based on the application and the rules. Does a fanboy really need 'www.jenniferlovhewitt.com' or should it go toward a person with that name? They could also enforce rules that "buffer" around domain names. Anyone who has been to www.gamefaq.com instead of www.gamefaqs.com(or vice versa :->) can see the need something like this.

    If any part of the Internet needs democracy, it would be this topic. I have no problem with someone who has a clearly stated purpose for having a domain name but if there is no real good reason for an individual to have the domain name, why give it to them? "Just because" isn't good enough.
  • No, it just means that the moderators don't read
    the articles either.

    The other day there was a thread where one of
    the first comments was entirely redundant, it
    pointed at a URL that was already pointed at
    in the article. The comment got moderated up
    to 5 for being "Informative", when it deserved
    to be slapped down as "Redundant".

  • Go read the legal papers on clue.com, and the legislation.

    The legislation does NOT merely ban registering a domain name for the sole perpose of reselling it to the trademark owner. It bans registering a domain name if the owner has a "bad faith intent to profit from that trademark"

    That is exactly what Hasbro was accusing clue.com of doing.

    Hasbro accused Clue Computing of deliberately using their web site to trade on and dilute the value of their "Clue" game trademark.

    From the lawsuit:


    14. CCI's commercial use of the Internet domain name "clue.com" in connection with its Internet site has caused and will continue to cause dilution of the distinctive quality of the CLUE mark.

    Obviously they weren't. They weren't providing an online "Clue" game, which is the purpose that Hasbro was trying to steal the name for. They were providing a web site for their computer consulting business.

    That didn't stop them from being sued, and it didn't stop Hasbro from falsely accusing them of trying to profit on the "Clue" board game trademark.

    Based on your comment, I don't think that you have any understanding of how dangerous and misguided this legislation is.

    Were this case to be tried under this new legislation, the owner of clue.com would be in serious jeopardy.

    If Hasbro were suing under this new legislation, in order to secure a conviction, and a $100,000 fine, Hasbro would merely have to convince the court that clue.com was somehow, in any aspect whatsoever, acting in "bad faith", and also convince the court that the web site diluted the value of the trademark.

    Fortunately, the court made the correct decision. However, had the court made an incorrect decision, clue.com would have been assigned to Hasbro. That would have been bad, but under this new law, clue.com would have been assigned to Hasbro, and Clue Computing would have been likely forced into bankruptcy with a fine from $1,000 to $100,000.

    One of the other trademarks Hasbro registered was "battleship.com". Let's say that you were a military warship buff, and long ago registered "battleship.com" as a site to display your collected pictures and information about warships. Along comes Hasbro in 1999, and brings a lawsuit against you. Are you going to fight it on general principles? How about if the fine is $100,000.00.

    - John
  • What a great resource!! None of the search engines (Infoseek, AltaVista, Google, etc.) came up with it, so I'd suggest that other interested /. readers bookmark the Thomas [loc.gov] page.

    I'm going to look to see if anyone else has done it, and if not, I will post the text of HR 3028 in another post.

  • I haven't yet looked for these bills; but I've some experiance with the Thomas system. They make bills that are controversial unavailable *on purpose*. I kept my own mirror of the FTP site until they shut that down just so I'd have a copy of bills that got some attention. I can't recall how many times I heard about a bill somewhere only to find it unavailable on the FTP or web sites, but with a copy in my mirror.
  • I have been following these debates also, and none of the ones I have seen actually tell the reader who to go to if your trademark/copyright has been infriged upon by cybersquatters. Could anyone help me out? I have been cyber squatted by these schmucks [dolex.com]
  • Apart from the difficulty in enforcing this, and the fact that different countries have different trademark rules...

    Even in the US, trademark law protects only against similar names *that are likely to cause confusion* in (potential) customers minds. Generally this means in similar businesses and in similar geographic areas. As in the clue.com case, there can often be multiple entities with a reasonable claim to (protection of) a domain name. Remember when Apple computer was sued by Apple Corps (the Beatles record company)? The resolution, IIRC, was that Apple agreed to not start selling music.

    I agree with the posters who indicate that the *selling* of the names is the "problem" and the only thing that should reasonably be prohibited. But there should be an escape for business liquidations and such.

    Or maybe the mass registration of names by one entity should be prohibited? (I bet large corps. wouldn't like that!)
  • But isn't the distinction between domain disputes and buying up domains with the intent to never use it, only to sell it?

    >.Because the courts have generally held that parody is a protected form of free speech, some or all of this law may in fact be unconstitutional.

    If the domain in question is a 'parody' that is in use, and the owner doesn't try to sell it, I can't see how this law could make any difference. (I haven't seen it either, but it would have to be pretty far out of whack to be about squating but have this kind of reach). If the registrant buys 'linuxblows.com' and then calls Linus and offers to sell it to keep it from becoming a live parody site, that would be different. I know that's a pretty black/white example, but my assumption is that's what this is about.

    >Leaving it to the courts doesn't necessarily work either, because often, the side with the most legal $ wins.

    Again, this really isn't about disputed domain rights, is it? If I happen to register a domain that some big company thinks is too close to their own, but I'm really using it (clue.com) for something else, this law doesn't seem to apply. If I register clue.com and sit on it and hasbro happens to find out about it and tried to make me give it up under the squatting law, then is the burden on me to show that I don't intend to sell it but use it for my own purposes somehow?

  • by Randym ( 25779 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @07:29AM (#1583529)
    Further down in this thread, rlk posts the response from thomas.loc.gov, but it is a temporary dynamic link, so I will tell you how to find it using Thomas. (Knowing how to use Thomas, BTW, is a Very Useful Thing.)

    First go to Thomas. [loc.gov] At the top there is a search for specific bills. You are looking today for either S. 1255 [the Senate version] or H.R. 3028. I found those numbers by going into the Congressional Record, selecting the most recent issue (i.e. yesterday when the deed was done), selecting the Daily Digest hyperlink, zipping down to the House of Representatives, and finding the bill entitled "Preventing the Misappropriation of Marks". Right there is all the information I needed: which bills and what action was taken. In fact, there are hyperlinks to the text of the bills right there. But I was interested in what the representatives actually said about them, so I chose the hyperlink where it says Pages. This led me to the official transcript of the action on the floor. That in itself was very interesting. Those pages also contained the text of the two bills as read by the Clerk.

    Again I would like to urge all /.ers to learn how to use this free resource to keep an eye on the Congress. The initiative for Thomas was spearheaded by Newt Gingrich; in my eyes, that almost makes up for his cockamamie Contract On America.


  • I think the moderators just felt sorry for you and thought you needed that extra bit of karma.

    Which begs the question, did you just become to the first user to pass 200?

    ... and now I will be moderated down for offtopic.

    -
    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.
  • That's just oh-so-bright. So if you want to squat, do it thru an overseas company. I truely don't see where they think they're going with this. They can't 'abolish' squating on the internet, they can simply force the squaters to dummy offshore companies they setup for 50$.

    Gambling on the inetrnet is also illegal. Look at how well THAT'S worked..
  • Cyberpiracy? They can't pass a law with
    "cyberpiracy" in the title.

    Please no.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Several readers have posted the link to the law as reported, but I thought it made sense to post it here to encourage further thought and analysis:

    H.R.3028 Trademark Cyberpiracy Prevention Act (Reported in the House)

    SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; REFERENCES.
    (a) SHORT TITLE- This Act may be cited as the `Trademark Cyberpiracy Prevention Act'.

    (b) REFERENCES TO THE TRADEMARK ACT OF 1946- Any reference in this Act to the Trademark Act of 1946 shall be a reference to the Act entitled `An Act to provide for the registration and protection of trade-marks used in commerce, to carry out the provisions of certain international conventions, and for other purposes', approved July 5, 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1051 et seq.).


    SEC. 2. CYBERPIRACY PREVENTION.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Section 43 of the Trademark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1125) is amended by inserting at the end the following:

    (d)(1)(A) A person shall be liable in a civil action by the owner of a trademark or service mark if, without regard to the goods or services of the parties, that person--

    (i) has a bad faith intent to profit from that trademark or service mark; and

    (ii) registers, traffics in, or uses a domain name that--

    (I) in the case of a trademark or service mark that is distinctive at the time of registration of the domain name, is identical or confusingly similar to such mark;

    (II) in the case of a famous trademark or service mark that is famous at the time of registration of the domain name, is dilutive of such mark; or

    (III) is a trademark, word, or name protected by reason of section 706 of title 18, United States Code, or section 220506 of title 36, United States Code.

    In determining whether there is a bad-faith intent described under subparagraph (A), a court may consider factors such as, but not limited to--

    (i) the trademark or other intellectual property rights of the person, if any, in the domain name;

    (ii) the extent to which the domain name consists of the legal name of the person or a name that is otherwise commonly used to identify that person;

    (iii) the person's prior lawful use, if any, of the domain name in connection with the bona fide offering of any goods or services;

    (iv) the person's lawful noncommercial or fair use of the mark in a site accessible under the domain name;

    (v) the person's intent to divert consumers from the mark owner's online location to a site accessible under the domain name that could harm the goodwill represented by the mark, either for commercial gain or with the intent to tarnish or disparage the mark, by creating a likelihood of confusion as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the site;

    (vi) the person's offer to transfer, sell, or otherwise assign the domain name to the mark owner or any third party for financial gain without having used, or having an intent to use, the domain name in the bona fide offering of any goods or services;

    (vii) the person's provision of material and misleading false contact information when applying for the registration of the domain name or the person's intentional failure to maintain accurate contact information;

    (viii) the person's registration or acquisition of multiple domain names which the person knows are identical or confusingly similar to trademarks or service marks of others that are distinctive at the time of registration of such domain names, or dilutive of famous trademarks or service marks of others that are famous at the time of registration of such domain names, without regard to the goods or services of such persons;

    (ix) the person's history of offering to transfer, sell, or otherwise assign domain names incorporating marks of others to the mark owners or any third party for consideration without having used, or having an intent to use, the domain names in the bona fide offering of any goods and services;

    (x) the person's history of providing material and misleading false contact information when applying for the registration of other domain names which incorporate marks, or the person's history of using aliases in the registration of domain names which incorporate marks of others; and

    (xi) the extent to which the trademark or service mark incorporated in the person's domain name registration is distinctive and famous within the meaning of subsection (c)(1) of section 43 of the Trademark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1125).

    (C) In any civil action involving the registration, trafficking, or use of a domain name under this paragraph, a court may order the forfeiture or cancellation of the domain name or the transfer of the domain name to the owner of the mark.

    (D) A person shall be liable for using a domain name under subparagraph (A)(ii) only if that person is the domain name registrant or that registrant's authorized licensee.

    (E) As used in this paragraph, the term `traffics in' refers to transactions that include, but are not limited to, sales, purchases, loans, pledges, licenses, exchanges of currency, and any other transfer for consideration or receipt in exchange for consideration.

    (2)(A) The owner of a mark may file an in rem civil action against a domain name in the judicial district in which suit may be brought against the domain name registrar, domain name registry, or other domain name authority that registered or assigned the domain name if--

    (i) the domain name violates any right of the registrant of a mark registered in the Patent and Trademark Office, or subsection (a) or (c) of this section, or is a trademark, word, or name protected by reason of section 706 of title 18, United States Code, or section 220506 of title 36, United States Code; and

    (ii) the court finds that--

    (I) the owner has demonstrated due diligence and was not able to find or was not able to serve a person who would have been a defendant in a civil action under paragraph (1); or

    (II) personal jurisdiction cannot be established over any person who would have been a defendant in a civil action under paragraph (1).

    (B) The remedies in an in rem action under this paragraph shall be limited to a court order for the forfeiture or cancellation of the domain name or the transfer of the domain name to the owner of the mark.

    (C) The in rem action established under this paragraph and any remedy available under such action shall be in addition to any other civil action or remedy otherwise applicable.

    (3) The civil action established under paragraph (1) and any remedy available under such action shall be in addition to any other civil action or remedy otherwise applicable.


    SEC. 3. DAMAGES AND REMEDIES.


    (a) REMEDIES IN CASES OF DOMAIN NAME PIRACY-

    (1)INJUNCTIONS- Section 34(a) of the Trademark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1116(a)) is amended in the first sentence by striking '(a) or (c)' and inserting `(a), (c), or (d)'.

    (2) DAMAGES- Section 35(a) of the Trademark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1117(a)) is amended in the first sentence by inserting `, (c), or (d)' after `section 43(a)'.

    (b) STATUTORY DAMAGES- Section 35 of the Trademark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1117) is amended by adding at the end the following:

    (d) In a case involving a violation of section 43(d)(1), the plaintiff may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered by the trial court, to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages in the amount of not less than $1,000 and not more than $100,000 per domain name, as the court considers just. The court may remit statutory damages in any case in which the court finds that an infringer believed and had reasonable grounds to believe that use of the domain name by the infringer was a fair or otherwise lawful use.

    SEC. 4. LIMITATION ON LIABILITY.

    Section 32(2) of the Trademark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1114) is amended--

    (1) in the matter preceding subparagraph (A) by striking `under section 43(a)' and inserting `under section 43(a) or (d)'; and

    (2) by redesignating subparagraph (D) as subparagraph (E) and inserting after subparagraph (C) the following:

    `(D)(i) A domain name registrar, a domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority that takes any action described under clause (ii) affecting a domain name shall not be liable for monetary relief to any person for such action, regardless of whether the domain name is finally determined to infringe or dilute the mark.

    (ii) An action referred to under clause (i) is any action of refusing to register, removing from registration, transferring, temporarily disabling, or permanently canceling a domain name--

    (I) in compliance with a court order under section 43(d); or

    `(II) in the implementation of a reasonable policy by such registrar, registry, or authority prohibiting the registration of a domain name that is identical to, confusingly similar to, or dilutive of another's mark registered on the Principal Register of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or of a trademark, word, or name protected by reason of section 706 of title 18, United States Code, or section 220506 of title 36, United States Code.


    (iii) A domain name registrar, a domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority shall not be liable for damages under this section for the registration or maintenance of a domain name for another absent a showing of bad faith intent to profit from such registration or maintenance of the domain name.

    `(iv) If a registrar, registry, or other registration authority takes an action described under clause (ii) based on a knowing and material misrepresentation by any other person that a domain name is identical to, confusingly similar to, or dilutive of a mark registered on the Principal Register of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or a trademark, word, or name protected by reason of section 706 of title 18, United States Code, or section 220506 of title 36, United States Code, the person making the knowing and material misrepresentation shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorney's fees, incurred by the domain name registrant as a result of such action. The court may also grant injunctive relief to the domain name registrant, including the reactivation of the domain name or the transfer of the domain name to the domain name registrant.

    (v) A domain name registrant whose domain name has been suspended, disabled, or transferred under a policy described under clause (ii)(II) may, upon notice to the mark owner, file a civil action to establish that the registration or use of the domain name by such registrant is not unlawful under this Act. The court may grant injunctive relief to the domain name registrant, including the reactivation of the domain name or transfer of the domain name to the domain name registrant.


    SEC. 5. DEFINITIONS.

    Section 45 of the Trademark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1127) is amended by inserting after the undesignated paragraph defining the term `counterfeit' the following:


    The term `domain name' means any alphanumeric designation which is registered with or assigned by any domain name registrar, domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority as part of an electronic address on the Internet.

    The term `Internet' has the meaning given that term in section 230(f)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 230(f)(1)).

    SEC. 6. SAVINGS CLAUSE.Nothing in this Act shall affect any defense available to a defendant under the Trademark Act of 1946 (including any defense under section 43(c)(4) of such Act or relating to fair use) or a person's right of free speech or expression under the first amendment of the United States Constitution.


    SEC. 7. EFFECTIVE DATE.

    Sections 2 through 6 of this Act shall apply to all domain names registered before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act, except that damages under subsection (a) or (d) of section 35 of the Trademark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1117), as amended by section 3 of this Act, shall not be available with respect to the registration, trafficking, or use of a domain name that occurs before the date of enactment of this Act.


    SEC. 8. ADJUSTMENT OF CERTAIN TRADEMARK AND PATENT FEES.

    (a) TRADEMARK FEES- Notwithstanding the second sentence of section 31(a) of the Trademark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1113(a)), the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks is authorized in fiscal year 2000 to adjust trademark fees without regard to fluctuations in the Consumer Price Index during the preceding 12 months.

    (b) PATENT FEES-

    (1) ORIGINAL FILING FEE- Section 41(a)(1)(A) of title 35, United States Code, relating to the fee for filing an original patent application, is amended by striking `$760' and inserting `$690'.

    (2)REISSUE FEE- Section 41(a)(4)(A) of title 35, United States Code, relating to the fee for filing for a reissue of a patent, is amended by striking `$760' and inserting `$690'.

    (3) NATIONAL FEE FOR CERTAIN INTERNATIONAL APPLICATIONS- Section 41(a)(10) of title 35, United States Code, relating to the national fee for certain international applications, is amended by striking `$760' and inserting `$690'.

    (4) MAINTENANCE FEES- Section 41(b)(1) of title 35, United States Code, relating to certain maintenance fees, is amended by striking `$940' and inserting `$830'.

    (c)EFFECTIVE DATE- Subsection (a) shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act. The amendments made by subsection (b) shall take effect 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.


  • I think the moderators just felt sorry for you and thought you needed that extra bit of karma.

    Like I need any... I think they just think everything I post is revelant. (It's not. I can post off-topic subjects, or the occasional accidental flamebait. Wish I didn't have to point that out.)

    Which begs the question, did you just become to the first user to pass 200?

    Yeah, I think so! Goes to show how much of a life I have. :)

    Disclaimer: See my note on my user page. It's not that I don't like receiving karma for good posts, quite the opposite. It tells me what I'm doing right, and it shows a positive response to what I post, which is encouraging and a great motivation to keep posting as intelligently as I can manage. I just don't think high karma means the next post I make will be intelligent. Each comment I make should be judged individually.
    "Knowledge = Power = Energy = Mass"

  • Hey thanks,

    I did see that.
    I am not looking for my name on slashdot
    for use as a domain name.
    Although this does sound like a good idea.
    If I get the domain name www.typingsux.com,
    do you think I can sell it to one of the
    Voice recognition software companies someday?

    Oh no, then I'd be a Cybersquatter

  • That's right. If you claim a domain name, you have 7 days to put something useful on it--not just "Under Construction". And you can't put "This name for sale," or even imply it, for two years under penalty of death. You have to put some useful information there or offer some service for a fee or free. Then, you have to get 100 hits in the next 90 days and build a house (okay, maybe skip the house). And, then you have homesteaded the domain name. Future generations (or subsidiaries) can inherit it and split it up as they like.

    Wouldn't that be fun?

  • I don't know if this helps or not, but for what it's worth:

    The Data in Network Solutions' WHOIS database is provided by Network
    Solutions for information purposes... By submitting
    this query, you agree to abide by this policy.

    Registrant:
    decatel communications (DOLEX-DOM)
    domain name for sale 1875 century park
    east 2501
    los angeles, CA 90067
    US

    Domain Name: DOLEX.COM

    Administrative Contact:
    z, ben (BZ1134) ben@DECATEL.COM
    818 905-4000 (FAX) 888 413-4933
    Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
    Support, Technical (MC4774) contact@AHNET.NET
    310-354-2626 (FAX) 310-354-1592
    Billing Contact:
    z, ben (BZ1134) ben@DECATEL.COM
    818 905-4000 (FAX) 888 413-4933

    Record last updated on 12-Jun-1999.
    Record created on 12-Jun-1999.
    Database last updated on 26-Oct-1999 17:54:51 EDT.

    Domain servers in listed order:

    NSAH1.AHNET.NET 207.213.224.16
    NS3.PBI.NET 206.13.28.165
  • We need a law against frivolous patent applications.
  • Yes, the .com is supposedly for commercial uses. The other common ones are .org (not-profit orgs), .gov (US Government), .net (networks) and then the country domains, .us, .fr, etc. So, where do personal pages fit in this scheme (besides in subfolders or their ISPs, like http://members.aol.com)? I would agree with you on principal, though, that the domains should be used for their intended purpose. As a better example, http://www.cyride.com is a city transportation department. Why isn't it at cyride.gov, or ames.bus.ia.us?
  • But what occurs when someone or a company buys a domain name for some other reason? A burden of proof that a person intended to sell it to a company is almost impossible, unless that person actually tries to get the company to buy it. Or what about if a company offers to buy a domain name that is held by someone for some other reason, like similar last names or something. I think this is a very tough law to fight and will end up having worse implications for the little guy than the company.

    -- Moondog
  • From the linked article: "The Senate in August approved a similar bill..."
    If the Senate and House both approve a measure, it still does not become law.
    I think that it's safe for Hemos to assume that the vast majority of /. readers who would be affected by this bill (ie US citizens) have already completed their 8th-grade civics course and understand the situation.
    That is not a safe assumption. The average Slashdot poster does not seem to have a clue how democracy, capitalism, or the United States government works. For proof of this, refer to any posting on patents, copyrights, or federal law.
    Au contrair. Spending measures must originate in the House. The House thus has the explicit power to ban specific instances government spending or taxation by not passing the bills that would make it possible. In practice, this is a moot point...
    Not true! The House is the only body which may initiate a a bill of taxation (Art I, Sec 7). However, appropriations bills may originate in either the Senate or the House. So in practice it is a moot point and in reality blatently false.
    In theory, the Senate and the House together have the power to prevent a previous action enacted by Congress and signed by the Executive by refusing to approprate funding for it.
  • From the linked article: "The Senate in August approved a similar bill..."
    If the Senate and House both approve a measure, it still does not become law.

    I think that it's safe for Hemos to assume that the vast majority of /. readers who would be affected by this bill (ie US citizens) have already completed their 8th-grade civics course and understand the situation.
    That is not a safe assumption. The average Slashdot poster does not seem to have a clue how democracy, capitalism, or the United States government works. For proof of this, refer to any posting on patents, copyrights, or federal law.

    Au contrair. Spending measures must originate in the House. The House thus has the explicit power to ban specific instances government spending or taxation by not passing the bills that would make it possible. In practice, this is a moot point...
    Not true! The House is the only body which may initiate a a bill of taxation (Art I, Sec 7). However, appropriations bills may originate in either the Senate or the House. So in practice it is a moot point and in reality blatently false. In theory, the Senate and the House together have the power to prevent a previous action enacted by Congress and signed by the Executive by refusing to approprate funding for it. This is done fairly often. However, they may not make anything illegal.
  • So, Poopie... when are you gonna run for your seat in the Senate? I will vote for ya.

    ~m
  • "You cannot register a domain name that could be confused w/ someone else's? Physical addresses are confusing, but they're allowed to look similar."


    This cracked me up and made me think of what would happen if cities were allowed to sue because another city had taken its name.

    PORTLAND, MA- "Here in Portland, Maine we are suffering because Portland, Oregon gets much more attention than we do... but WE HAD THE NAME FIRST!"

    PORTLAND, OR- "But we made the name popular! Sure, you had the name first... but what were you DOING with it?"

    Talk about cry babies.

    ~m

  • I am surprised to see so many comments like "it could go either way." I don't see how this legislation could be construed as anything but a disgusting infringement on free commerce.

    As I see it, Party 1 registers a domain name. Some time later, Party 2 decides it wants that domain. So Party 1 offers to sell it for a certain price. Party 2 can pay or not, the price can be negotiated, and so forth. At no point is anyone involved except those two parties. Neither can force the other to do anything against their will. It is the very definition of a fair business transaction.

    Now the government decides that they should make the above illegal. That is, whenever Party 2 decides they want the domain name in question, the government will go and steal it for them. The idea of only prosecuting those with an "intent" to squat is absurd; intent is indefinite at best, and in no free market in history (including the US, in most cases) is "purchase with intent to sell at a profit" a crime. As in any business, the seller takes the risk when she initially registers the domain name, hoping someone will be willing to pay for it in the future. The current environment happens to place some of these names in high demand, but that is not a permanent state. In any case, it takes a certain amount of business sense to find domains that will be desired.

    Cybersquatting is no different from buying World Series tickets and sticking them on ebay (I have a friend who just made 3200% profit doing that). It's not dishonest, it's smart.

    Another warning flag: Clinton is opposed to the legislation, in part (according to the Wired story) because it might encourage other nations to pass similar bills. Huh? If we don't want anyone else to have the law, what in the world do we want it for?

  • This could go either way.

    On the one hand, I prefer not just waiting to see how the courts will respond to the matter. The outcomes aren't really accountable and are largely unpredictable. A legislative solution could produce clear guidelines. If we don't like the guidelines, at least we can vote the bums out of office.

    On the other hand, I think a legislative bandaid on our sometimes wacky intellectual property and trademark laws is not really going to help. It might even hurt since the people voting for these bills probably don't understand the full implications of the legislation.

    Oh, yeah.....not first post.
  • Now, IANAL, but I do know that different companies can trademark the same name so long as they aren't competing in the same market. What constitutes "bad faith?" Is it possible that the small company who chooses a similar trademark for a legitimate, yet non-competitive product to lose their domain name through this bill? What if the company who wants the domain claims that even though the products do not compete, the registered company chose that name simply to increase their own name recognition?
  • Agreed.

    While I would love to see the practice of cybersquatting stopped, I think this blunt instrument is the wrong solution.

    How about attacking cybersquatting where it lives; in the resale? If the law didn't ban anything except selling a "similar" name to a trademark holder, it would introduce far fewer hazards. While this might solve the cybersquatting problem, I don't expect it would get support from the big trademark holders. ;)

    Of course, this doesn't address the concern of someone registering a trademarked name and simply getting extra hits from people trying to reach the trademark holder.

  • Great, more bad legislation. All this will do is give large companies more muscle when they try to "crack down" on people using their name. For the longest time ati.com was legitemately pwned by some other company who even provided a link to the video card manufacturer. At one point I think legal action was even being considered (but not implemented). Seeing how typing it in now gets me to ATIs (the video card manufacturer) site, I guess they bought them out.

    I'm just waiting to start my own internet company so that I can finally get tariq.com from the guy who currently owns it :)

  • The Clinton Administration is the Trial Lawyer's Association's best friend. Their reponse to this case is typical, regardless of whether or not it is the correct policy (honestly, I'm not sure one way or the other yet). Anything to increase the chance for lawyers to earn fees...


    --

  • I think that squatting should be nipped in the bud before it ever gets to the courtroom. The practice of buying domain names and then selling them is annoying, and it makes browsing harder for web-surfers. Let's try to keep our web a [relatively] tidy place, alright?

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • It seems that every time there is a law passed someone looses. Of course this is they way of the world. I'll agree the idea of cybersquatting is bad. People buying a site to demand money from a company is bad in my opinion. But what sites that are slightly more common names. For instance wasn't Terrel Davis (of the Broncos) complaining about www.davis.com because they use his name? Should I complain about www.donohue.com because it uses my last name? In some cases there are more than one company with the same. (Its legal as long as the companies don't do the same things) Which one gets the domain name? Or those with initials that are the same? I dunno I'd have to see the entire bill to decide if I like it, but for now I have to agree that it should stay in the courts.
    -cpd
  • by howardjp ( 5458 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @05:14AM (#1583556) Homepage
    The House cannot "ban" anything. Any action in the United States requires that it pass both the House and the Senate then it must be signed by the Executive. The only exceptions to this are treaties and executive appointments which must be ratified by the Senate.
  • I'll probably find myself in the minority here, but I can't see anything wrong with cybersquatting.

    Let's see. Internet by now is part of the "real world". The real world mostly plays by the rules called capitalism. In particular, this means that valuable things (assets) should be freely bought and sold with their value being determined by the marketplace.

    Now, Internet names are, by now, certainly assets -- they have value and it is possible to buy and sell them. Given that, I don't see anything wrong with people or companies accumulating these assets and then selling them to the highest bidder. After all, that's the way market works.

    There is already quite sufficient protection for the copyrighted items and trademarks. This new law applies the doctrine of "use it or lose it" to domain names and I don't see any economic necessity for it. What this law does is give another heavy blunt weapon to large entities (mostly corporations) with which to beat over the head smaller entities (mostly individuals and small organizations). Lawyers should be happy.

    People dislike cybersquatting because it would be unacceptable behavior in academic/research setting, and because there is perception of unfairness: these guys paid $70 for the domain name and want to sell it for $10,000! Unfair!

    The first objection is no longer valid -- Internet, to repeat myself, now firmly belongs to the "real world" where a lot of stuff that would be ethically unacceptable in a university is legal and happens all the time. As to the second point -- life is unfair, deal with it. Do you think the Saudis deserved in any way those huge pools of oil underneath their sands? Besides, those cybersquatters demonstrated quickness of thinking and action, plus entrepreneurial instincts -- what's wrong with this?

    I think two kinds of groups complain about cybersquatting. The first one is people who pine for the good old days when the Internet was basically a research network, unknown and not accessible to the unwashed masses, and domain names could be had for asking. The second one is large corporations which want to take what they want and if they happened to step on somebody in the meantime, so what. I am fairly sure who pushed for this law to be adopted.

    Kaa
  • by vlax ( 1809 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @07:56AM (#1583558)
    The name allocation rules for AFNIC (the NIC for *.fr) are located in English here [www.nic.fr] (in PDF format). The naming convention starts on page 13. The original French is here [www.nic.fr].

    In short, there are certain manditory subdomains in .fr: asso.fr, presse.fr, prd.fr, nom.fr, tm.fr and the names of certain professions have been blocked for registration (e.g. barreau.fr, notaire.fr.) AFNIC rejects names that correspond to common first names, trades or commercial domains, names of towns and regions, any domain that starts with the letter 'd' followed by a number (because that's how departments are frequently abbreviated.) Also, they will reject domains like net.fr, internet.fr, http.fr and other common net abbreviations. There is a com.fr domain, which requires no justifying documents at all to register - but it seems to be a recent development.

    Anyone registring directly under .fr can only obtain a maximum of 3 domains, and those names have to appear on the organisation's Kbis (an official registration document required to do business in France). All associations have to register under asso.fr, and only companies with French trademarks can register under tm.fr.

    The rules are really fairly straight forward (although much longer than the .com, .org, .net rules) and for the most part make sense. It results in fewer domain registrations, but I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad thing, certainly it keeps the top level domain from getting cluttered. It does makes domain squatting nearly impossible.

    I know, a lot of /.'er prefer the free-for-all of the current system, but as someone currently trying to obtain a decent domain for a business venture under .com, I would certainly prefer the French rules.

    Unfortunately, nothing will change so long as .com is seen as the only respectable way to go. The system for three-letter domains has been bad for a long time, and I wonder if the only way to fix it would be to either phase out or eliminate altogether the .com, .net and .org domains.
  • by poopie ( 35416 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @08:07AM (#1583559) Journal
    Bah! The truth is that people are just now starting to realize that .com is big business, and they're (we're?) all kicking themselves for not having had the foresight to register food.com, pets.com, news.com, cbs.com, etc... six or seven years ago.

    Waa! Waa! somebody was quicker and smarter than me and stole my god-given right to own $MY_COMPANY_NAME.com .

    Waa! Waa! I want to live in Beverly Hills, but I can't afford it. Please, Mr. Government... make them lower the rent in Beverly Hills... I have a RIGHT to live there

    Waa! Waa! Somebody beat me to San Francisco and found all of the gold that I was supposed to find. Please, Mr. Government, make them share the gold they found.

    Waa! Waa! The DeBeers family owns all of the diamonds in the world, and keeps the prices artificially high. Please, Mr Government, take at least half of the diamonds away from the DeBeers family so that I can buy lots of cheap diamonds.

    Waa! Waa! The US Land Grant Act gave all of the good Silicon Valley land away FOR FREE many years ago, and I didn't get any. Please, Mr Government, take away the land from the Big companies in the silicon valley and re-apportion it, and give some to me.

    Waa! Waa! All of the 3 character domain combinations are already registered and I didn't get $MY_INITIALS.[com,org,net] . How can I continue living?

    Waa! Waa! BBC wanted bbc.com really bad, so they paid a million dollars for it, and now they're happy

    How much do you think I'd have to pay BBC to get BBC.com from them?


    Are you starting to get the picture?
  • This is the best 2 suggestions i have seen so far to solve this problem.


    My conern is if that it's illegal to buy up a domain and just stick on the web server "for sale" or "under construction" wouldn't that be denying free speech?


    Mind you, I was considering buying a domain name for one of my car-related web pages, only to find EVERY single decent variation on it has been taken. I wouldn't mind a spitfire.rec though(or something similiar that's non-buisness related)
  • Is there a way to get a listing of users sorted
    by Karma?

  • What downsides? Well, to start off with, it ONLY protects trademark owners, at least from what i've read on the bill in question. That specific issue is already resolved by existing trademark law, and even if this bill is passed, it seems likely that the parties involved will still end up in court.

    Hopefully, if this thing becomes law, the courts won't interpret it to mean "you can no longer register trademarked words, even if you have no malicious intent

    This WILL happen if it gets passed, and seems to be another step towards degrading fair usage for parodies, etc. Also, even as it stands now, even if you do register a trademarked name with no malicious intent, it's likely that you will be relieved of that via the courts, though it does depend on alot of stuff.

    It really seems to me that this is merely yet another example of the gov't pandering to corporate interests. Unfortunately it seems like this law actually solves nothing that existing law does not, and Clinton is probably right in saying that the issue is best resolved in the courts (though that idea was probably 'suggested' by the law lobby)

    I find domain squatting to be a gross abuse of the system, similar to buying large tracts of land and sitting on them, hoping the area becomes a popular place for development, though there are alot of differences. The extremely low cost of entry is one. I really don't see being able to completely remove the practice. Eventually it will become very costly to maintain all those domains they register, i'm sure a couple decent sized companies will still manage to make money off of it though, i think it's called 'the price of doing business'. Personally it sickens me, but then again, doing business is really unpleasant.
  • I know two people who are victims of cybersquatting, and one of them is me.
    First, Telefragged registers massassi.net, just to spite somebody who wants to move their site on to greener pastures.
    And then, out from under my nose, somebody grabs solarwind.com. Now we have to use something obscure.
    I think that banning this sort of behavior is a good thing. Well, at least to the people who aren't doing it.

    This is probably a worst-case scenerio; at least with most cybersquatters you can buy your domain back.
  • Every domain registrar has policies that denote how something has to be contested... If you register with NSI, you agree that all disputes must be argued in Virginia. (This to keep the registrar itself from having to have counsel everywhere at a massive expense)

    I suspect that the other registrars have equivalent language.
  • Although I certainly agree the cybersquatting is bad (my company has suffered from it), there are several reasons why I must (ugh!) agree with Clinton.

    First, as other posters have astutely pointed out, there are many reasons why one might ask for a domain name that is very close to another known domain name. It would be impossible for a law to fully account for the possible reasons for gaining a domain name, and so the determination of whether something is cybersquatting instead of mere coincidence would have to be left to the courts.

    Also, there is the international aspect. For example, what if an Australian decides to get www.yahoo.au? (I don't know if this is taken) IANAL, but obviously, this would not be governed by US law. On the other hand, it might be handled by the courts, according to international treaties/laws/etc.

    Finally, how do you determine what is too close. This differs from my first reason in that it does not deal with the motive, only the effect. At what point would a domain name be too close? If I chose www.¥ah00.com would that be too close? What about www.¥ah00chie.com? www.¥/\|-|()().com? Sure, I'm getting kind of silly here, and these are all quite obvious (and impossible, in one case), but the point is, it's easy to spoof a name in clever ways. I don't believe that the law could account for all possibilities here. Which means it would again come back to the courts to decide what is too close.

    It seems that, in any case, it must come back down to the courts to decide what is cybersquatting and what is not. The creation of a law regarding this is both improper and futile. Of course, this is just my two bits, you're welcome to yours.

    One final thought: I don't think this should be governed by US laws at all. I feel the best way to resolve this issue (and others) is to create an international body, made up of equal (yes, equal)membership from all internet-using countries. This body would pass laws and maintain a court system which all of these countries (by treaty or whatever) would uphold.
  • From a bulletin I received on Tuesday the 26th from the EFF [eff.org]:

    With the stated goal of preventing trademark infringement and dilution
    in the Internet domain name space, the misguided "Trademark
    Cyberpiracy Prevention Act" the would make domain name holders legally
    liable in civil actions brought by trademark holders sharing the same
    name or one that is "confusingly similar."

    This bill undermines fair use and First Amendment freedoms in granting
    all trademark holders new rights greatly in excess of those already
    granted by existing trademark law. TCPA's provisions would enable
    bad-acting trademark holders to sue satirists and critics into
    silence.

    The legislation is an assault on anonymous speech; it effectively
    forces domain name holders to give up their privacy or have an
    increased likelihood of liability (and for no real reason, since there
    isn't any connection between anonymous use of the Internet and
    trademark violations).

    The bill will have a chilling effect on free expression because it
    effectively encourages registrars to reject the registration of any
    domain name that they believe has a remote possibility of being
    infringing.

    The TCPA bill also sets up a system whereby US-based companies would
    be able to take away domain names - without notice - from foreign
    companies and individuals who can't afford to travel to the US to
    defend themselves (assuming they even know about the action against
    them at all.)

    Attacked domain name holders would have to file their own lawsuits to
    prove their innocence, and do not even have affirmative defenses to
    assert when sued, only factors for optional court consideration.
    Domain name holders must not be treated guilty until proven innocent.

    Months' worth of international cooperation could be undermined in the
    Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), working
    to come to a balanced consensus on intellectual property, domain names
    and individual rights. Congress should not be second-guessing the
    Commerce Dept. (which is overseeing transition to the new
    administration of the Domain Naming System), nor suddenly wading into
    a highly contentious area of global technology policy.


  • that company just buys domain names and does nothing with them that is cyber squating.

    Somehow, I think this bill will help the squatters. Before, they could only sell names based on the perceived value of just the name. Everyone knows they were just squatting on it, waiting for it to hatch.

    Now, they will buy these names, make some hooey company or something to make the domain seem legit to skirt this law. When time comes to sell it, they can claim it has more value, because there are already current vested business interests from all the chrome added to the domain.
  • by El Volio ( 40489 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @05:22AM (#1583580) Homepage
    Trademark infringement is already illegal. The only real new thing here is that if a company can't find the infringer, they can still kill the registration. This may not stand up in court, as it seems to me that it denies due process (a constitutional guarantee).

    But IANAL, so someone else may be able to point out that the above is a bunch of bull.
  • I read this article on ZDNET [zdnet.com], and they made the interesting point that this might affect websites
    that use a trademarked word in the title, so websites like ihatemicrosoft.com could face legal action.

    I guess free speech only matters to those who can afford it.
  • I am in favor of such regulations, however it doesn't really work for something as global as domain registration. Afterall a lot of Americans still think that if they pass a law regarding the internet, that it is valid for the whole world.
    But regardless of that, I think they are not going far enough. How about people who buy up sites, in the hope they can make a profit later, even if it is not related to specific company name?
    Ever been to www.arj.com [arj.com] recently? I mean we have enough junk on the net as it is. Also names that have been bought, but no (web)sites are ever set up for them.
    I just think the internet is cluttering up much to fast (think usenet and spam) and it would be good to have some type off weed-out mechanism for domain names. Maybe restructure the whole thing, make it geographically sound, only giving companies _1_ domain name, giving people a free url like myname.people.us and such. 'Cause the longer you wait with such things, the harder it gets to change (640Kb is enough for everybody!)

    -- Ren
  • by mykey2k ( 42851 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @05:33AM (#1583598)
    So...

    In my case, some person approached me for my domain (which I was using) to purchase it. I declined on the first try. He repeatedly emails me a couple more times, phones my house(! I guess since I have my resume online, he thinks he has a right to call me and annoy -- luckily I wasn't home), and I keep declining over email. I try to give him alternatives, but he sites other sales (download.com, etc) instead. Finally he says "final offer" and I am finally relieved that this guy is going to leave me alone.

    Does this mean I'm not a "squatter" since I didn't sell and I have no intention whatsoever to sell ever?

    Of course, if someone offered me $1,000,000 for it, would that make me a squatter since I would sell it?

    I hate this bloody term ["squatting"]. The House of Reps should do something more productive like get re-do the out-of-whack welfare system in the US and stay the hell away from my computer.

    -m
  • by Coutal ( 98822 ) on Wednesday October 27, 1999 @05:34AM (#1583599)
    While some people are not going to like this, here's what i think to be a good solution for cybersquatting: a good heirarchy.
    first, scrap .com, .net, and .org . there should be a .co.us and .net.us instead.
    the whole idea of a global domain pool is stupid, esp. when it coexists with a wide selection of TLDs.
    what would be so wrong with com.us or net.us for us-only companies, instead of .com?
    now, if companies were allowed to register only in their respective heirarchy, wouldn't most problems be solved?
    also, the attempt to divide domains into 4 or 5 major types is also rather silly. why not have lots of domain types?
    there are so many reasons why one would want to register a domain, making the current division unsuitable.
    this is also already being attempted: see the GTLD project [gtld.com] and iDNS [idns.org] for such attempts.
    the more domains available, the less options there are for squatting, and the more fair the sharing becomes.

    --------------------------------------------
    this message is quad-rot13 encrypted for your privacy.
  • It wouldn't be illegal, by this law, to do that. Whether or not Microsoft would still threaten to sue you and bury you in legal fees is another matter entirely, but you're at least in the clear as far as this particular law is concerned.

    - A.P.
    --


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