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Bill Gates domain ‘for sale’ at £2m

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According to the weekend UK press, Bill Gates is trying to stop an anonymous "entrepreneur" auctioning www.billgates.co.uk for something in the region of £2 million. But seriously folks, it's extremely doubtful either that the domain is really for sale at this price tag or that Gates and his merry men have the slightest intention of stopping any sale happening.

The domain itself was registered on 14th May 1999 by British outfit EntWeb on behalf of one Peter Bohn, so on the surface we're not entirely anonymous here. And it is offered for sale at www.buystuff.co.uk, which was registered on 13th May by British outfit EntWeb on behalf of one, er, Peter Bohn. This anonymity lark is something else, isn't it? Bohn may of course only be fronting for somebody else, but we have turned up a company director Peter Bohn of Teddington, Middlesex, which just happens to be where Netstuff Limited, the holding company for buystuff.co.uk, has its registered office.

Microsoft is of course going to be interested whenever somebody starts to punt around a domain with the guvnor's name on it, but it's not likely to be £2 million interested, and as it's perfectly legal to register such a domain, there's precious little the company can do about it right now. Nor indeed is it worth anything like £2 million, because by its very nature its value will automatically be eroded the moment anybody tries to realise it.

If you try to sell a billgates domain to His Billness, he'll naturally shriek blackmail and lawyer you to death. If you try to set it up as a site purportedly endorsed by him, he'll do likewise. And if you try something satirical you're on dangerous ground too, depending. Take a look around the various permutations. Some of them are taken, some not (if you want billgates.com, then mailing someone@billgates.com will put you on the trail, perhaps). But you'll have trouble finding anything that looks like it might be written by or about Bill Gates, for fairly obvious legal reasons. Even billgatessucks.com and killbillgates.com (it exists, oh yes) turn out to be no fun at all.

The bottom line of course is that cybersquatting ain't all it's sometimes cracked up to be, and that a lot of what you hear about domains for sale is probably intended to pump up the going price for domains in general, rather to sell a specific one. Still as cheap publicity stunts, they're still bargains. ®

Register full coverage: Cybersquatting

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