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A U.S. podcaster on Wednesday lost the right to operate a Web site using the name of "The Simpsons Movie" to attract fans of the cartoon series to sites related to his own Internet output.
An arbitrator for the United Nations' patent agency, WIPO, ruled that New York-based Keith Malley must cede control of the "thesimpsonsmovie.com" site to Twentieth Century Fox, the News Corp. (NWS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) unit which owns the Simpsons trademark.
Podcaster Loses "cybersquat" of Simpsons Movie Site [uk.reuters.com]
[edited by: engine at 2:29 pm (utc) on July 26, 2007]
One can purchase a domain name such as "CompanyNameSucks.com" and publish text that complains of a product or service (as long as there is no liable or slander). However, if one then includes a referral to a competing product or service in that web site there is possible "tarnishment and blurring" of the company name and potential for a lawsuit. One can use other company logos, names and marks and use a possible "fair use" defense if challenged. For example, the "Pepsi Challenge" used CocaCola's marks on commercials when having a side-by-side taste test between the two products.
I am building up a couple of "productsucks.com" sites (mainly for support, some general terms, some specific to a line of products) and it is a good rule of thumb (although unwritten) to make it 100% clear that you are not that company nor do you represent that company. I've seen big corporations go after little guys for companysucks.com sites and lost partially because the owner of the site made it clear that they were not that company nor did they represent that company and had links to the company to discuss company-related things. CYOA is always the best policy.
But, the above is a blatant case of infringement.
I find it unusual that many large companies such as Wells Fargo don't use WIPO at all while other companies like eBay will go ape on anyone that buys a domain with their name in it. For a greater understanding of WIPO take some time and do a search on say "ebay" and read through some WIPO cases at wipo.int [wipo.int] Very interesting reading.
The moral of the story is, when you try to capitalize on other companies trademarked terms in domain names especially their company name itself without their consent, you are asking for it.