Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NBA Star Now Owns 800 "Cybersquatted" Domain Names

Could Chris Bosh Be a Future ICANN UDRP Respondent at WIPO or NAF?

So I read the news item where Toronto Raptors NBA star Chris Bosh won a judgment for $120,000 against a domainer, Luis Zavala (Hoopology.com) for registering ChrisBosh.com. The judgment apparently came down in April, but now Bosh's lawyers reportedly convinced the judge to order that the domainer's 800 other mainly sports and celebrity domain names domains be handed over to Chris Bosh as well, since the defendant wasn't likely to pay the $120,000 judgement...

Bosh's lawyer reportedly stated, that "the Raptors’ star has no intention of holding onto any of them except his own. “He’s not trying to make any money here. He just wants to give these players their names back.".

So let me get this straight....Chris Bosh sues a guy for cybersquatting and then takes 800 cybersquatted domain names as booty? And Bosh's lawyers are apparently going to decide for themselves, who deserves the domain names: “We are notifying the world that anyone whose name is on this list that has a legitimate right to the domain name, Chris will transfer it to them for free,” said Brian Heidelberger, one of three lawyers who represented Bosh." Wow. So the Judge gave up the court's jurisdiction to a sports star and his lawyers to determine who has the rights to particular domain names...Amazing. Here is the actual text of the lawyers' terms for handing over the domain names - a kind of screwy para-UDRP process entirely within the discretion of a basketball star and his lawyers:

Chris Bosh and Max Deal offer the return of the domain name free of charge as a courtesy to the celebrity named herein, provided that such person promptly requests the return of such domain name in writing from Max Deal. Domain names will not be returned without a direct written request from an authorized person to Hadi@MaxDealTechnologies.com. Prior to transferring any domain name on this list, Chris Bosh and Max Deal reserve the right to require documentation in their reasonable discretion to support the requester's rights in the domain name. Domain names on this list may or may not be renewed at Chris Bosh and Max Deal's sole discretion. Chris Bosh and Max Deal reserve the right to at any time in their sole discretion to delete or cancel domain names on this list. Chris Bosh and Max Deal will not charge any fees for the transfer of domain names on this list. All third party costs relating to transfer of any domain name on this list to an authorized rights holder, including but not limited to transfer fees charged by the requester's registrar, are the sole responsibility of the party requesting transfer. Chris Bosh and Max Deal make no representations express or implied regarding any domain name on this list. By requesting or accepting the transfer of a domain name, you hereby release Chris Bosh and Max Deal from any and all liabilities in connection therewith.

But wait...WHO IS MAX DEAL? Good question! Its a social networking site associated with/owned by Chris Bosh. According to Bosh's press release, "Max Deal is a social media company that allows brands to increase their reach". How does that fit in? This is what Chris Bosh has to say according to his press release:

"I will offer the return of the domain names free of charge, but I'd also love the opportunity to show their owners how Max Deal can help."

Ahhh, I get it. When someone calls up to get their domain name back off of Chris Bosh, the new owner of the cybersquatted domain names, he will take the opportunity to sell them on how they can use the domain names in connection with his social media business....According to the terms copied above, Chris Bosh can delete or cancel any domain name in his sole discretion. Better be careful or the domain name could get dropped and picked up by another cybersquatter. What happens if Chris Bosh decides to not give back a name because the claimant doesn't meet his criteria? Maybe Bosh takes the position that one of the highschool basketball players or Venezuelan racecar drivers on his list doesnt have common law trademark rights? Could Bosh be the Respondent in a ICANN UDRP? The Complainant could argue that Bosh registered the domain names in bad faith and is using them in bad faith because he won't give them back and registered them with the intention of using them in bad faith as part of his monetization scheme in Max Deal....

Can you imagine if a domainer registered 800 celebrity domain names and his defense was that he would give them back to anyone who convinced him that they were the rightful owner and listened to his pitch that they could do great business together by letting the domainer monetize their name? What would happen to the domainer in a case like that?....

Its great when someone is there to help out his fellow man. Thankfully the Judge realized this when she allowed Chris Bosh and his entourage to "distribute" the ill-gotten domain names.

And I note that at least one of the domain names in the list, cockblocks.com, is not a celebrity that I am familair with. I wonder what Chris plans on doing with that name....Will the rightful owner please stand up?

For more information on domain name law please visit http://www.dnattorney.com/.

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