Feeds

Congress meddles with cybersquatters

Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works suit chucked out, meanwhile

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

There's a lot happening this week on the cybersquatting front. Different interests are lobbying in Washington over the House Bill intended to stop cybersquatting, which is being considered today. Trademark holders like the Motion Picture Association of America members are trying to push the Bill, while the Association for Computing Machinery thinks that the powers proposed in the Bill would be too great and undermine the legitimate rights of domain-name holders, even if the domain name included a trademark. The House Bill provides for damages of up to $100,000 for against domain name registrants held to have acted in bad faith, while a Senate Bill already passed provides for criminal penalties. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works went down 3-0 (judges, not goals) in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit yesterday when the dismissal of its suit against Network Solutions for registering domain names including "skunk works", a Lockheed service mark, was upheld. Whether the "skunk" refers to an animal that emits an unpleasant smell when threatened, or an exceptionally strong variety of marijuana, we do not know, but the maker of war planes has spent more than three years on the case. It's hard to believe that the average consumer would be confused when buying F-22 fighters online, or even the new space shuttle that is being designed there. Lockheed might have done itself a favour if it had followed NSI's post-registration dispute-resolution procedure by submitting a certified copy of a trademark registration to NSI, which puts the alleged cybersquatter in the position of having to prove its right to use the name, or have it cancelled. NSI did not succeed in getting its lawyer's fees paid by Lockheed because the appellate court decided that the appeal was not an "exceptional case" under the 1946 Lanham Trademark Act. The lack of any formal, legal link between trademark registers and domain names is causing a considerable problem for companies wishing to protect their intellectual property. It is a saga that has been going on for many years. In the UK, it has been possible to register company names containing trademarks, or identical with trademarks, without any come-back. Although the date of first use and registration date is generally supposed to be the key arbiter, in many cases might is proving right because of the considerable legal costs involved in any defence. The problem is that trademark registration frequently takes a year or more, whereas domain name applicants expect an almost instant service. In the US, the prospect of loads of intellectual property litigation is going to make lawyers even richer, but outside the USA, gun law will likely prevail. There will be domain-name havens, like tax havens, beyond the reach of US law that allow all manner of trickery to be continued. Consequently, the situation can only be controlled through an international organisation like ICANN, which will be issuing rules that registrants must agree to before the domain name is accepted, and having the ability to block cybersquatters. ICANN is proposing that trademark disputes be settled by an arbitration centre rather than the courts. It is doubtful whether any amelioration can be provided retrospectively, so the courts would still need to be used to regain domain names registered in bad faith. There's a curious footnote to our tale yesterday about the mountain bike domain name that was upsetting Morgan Stanley. It transpires that Morgan Stanley is itself being sued over the name it has chosen for its new investment strategies publication - The Macro Navigator. Clark Management Capital Group has a bunch of trademarks for its financial advisory services, and a newsletter called The Navigator Report. That's not quite all: before Morgan Stanley merged with Dean Witter, ms.com would not take you to Microsoft (it now goes to msdw.com), but to Morgan Stanley. Strange that Microsoft did not sort that one out. ® What the Hell is a Skunk Work? Full coverage/cyber squatting

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather
Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Facebook, Google and Instagram 'worse than drugs' says Miley Cyrus
Italian boffins agree with popette's theory that haters are the real wrecking balls
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Facebook to let stalkers unearth buried posts with mobe search
Prepare to HAUNT your pal's back catalogue
Ex-IBM CEO John Akers dies at 79
An era disrupted by the advent of the PC
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.