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Google shoves cybersquatter off 763 Googletastic domains

'Gay network' owner had splashed over £6k on names

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Google has seized over 750 domain names from a cybersquatter who used them to drive traffic to a series of "gay interest" websites and now wants Google's trademark cancelled.

The company has won a complaint covering 763 domains that all included the word "google" followed by the name of another company, keyword or celebrity, which it called "one of the most aggressive campaigns of domain name infringement that [Google] has ever encountered."

Google is now the proud owner of sites including googletranny.com, googlehonda.com, googlethepiratebay.com, googlegayfacebook.com, googleprophetmuhammad.com, googlekellyclarkson.com and far too many more to mention.

The complaint was filed in March with the US National Arbitration Forum under ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.

According to the NAF decision, these domains all pointed visitors to the adults-only website tgn.xxx, currently a "Coming Soon" page promising a "Gay Network".

Google took this to mean that the squatter, New York-based Chris Gillespie, intended to exploit its good name to promote gay porn, but Gillespie said in his defence that he only redirected the domains to the .xxx site in order to measure the traffic they received.

According to NAF, he also claimed: "Users will come upon Respondent’s websites when they use the term 'google' as a generic verb to search for a topic, brand, or person."

Putting his money where his mouth is, after the UDRP complaint was filed, Gillespie filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office to have the trademark "Google" cancelled on the grounds that the term is now just a generic word for web search.

"The subject registered GOOGLE marks have become the generic name for the goods or services," Gillespie alleges.

None of this was enough to sway the NAF panel, which pointed out that Google has trademark protection on its brand in many more jurisdictions than just the US.

The panel found that Google has rights to its name, that Gillespie does not, and that the domains were registered in "bad faith", which are the three tests for a successful UDRP complaint.

Buying 763 domain names would have cost Gillespie a smidgen over £6,400, judging by the current list price at his chosen registrar, Go Daddy.

Despite the voluminous filing, it's not the biggest UDRP case on record. That honour is believed to belong to Inter-Continental Hotels, which won a case covering 1,542 domain names in 2009. ®

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