7 Famous Domain Name Disputes & Their Interesting Stories

Domain dispute cases have hit an all-time high in 2023. Even after having proper rules and regulations against such things done in bad faith, they keep popping up.  Sometimes they occur due to genuine mistakes, but mostly domain name disputes occur due to malicious intent. But the good news is that 96% of the time the trademark owners won the case registered at WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation). 

Step into the fascinating world of domain name disputes as we uncover the stories behind seven remarkable cases. From big names to unexpected contenders, these conflicts shed light on legal tussles, digital strategies, and the quest to protect one’s online identity.

1. Google Forgets to Renew Domain Name, Microsoft too

Renew domain name on time to avoid domain name disputes.

Not automating domain renewal has troubled even the influential companies in the world!

Google and Microsoft are companies that lost their domain names for a brief period because they forgot to renew the domain names on time. You may need time to digest this fact!

In both cases, the new owners of the domain names didn’t have any malicious intent, alerted the companies of the issue at hand, and returned the domain name to the respective companies.

You can stop this problem from occurring on your website by auto-renewing your domain name if you are sure about the longevity of your online business.

2. BMW vs Vietnamese Cybersquatters

Domain name dispute between BMW and Vietnamese cyber-squatters

BMW is a globally famous business; they were the target of a group of professional cyber-squatters in Vietnam.

As BMW actively maintain its online presence and is vigilant towards any domain infringement practices, they were able to find the domain names used by cyber-squatters soon enough. The domain names bmw.com.vn, bmwmotorrad.com.vn, and bmwmotorrad.vn are some of the domain names registered by professional Vietnamese cyber-squatters.

Action Taken Against The Domain Name bmw.com.vn

BMW worked with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), which ordered the cyber-squatter to return the domain name bmw.com.vn to Vietnam’s domain name registry.

However, the cyber-squatter refused to comply with the order and the MOST asked the domain registry to withdraw the domain name. On April 21, 2017, the Vietnamese Registry of Domain Names deleted the ownership of the domain name from the cyber-squatter. Thus, putting a full stop to the usage of that domain name.

Actions Taken Against the Remaining Domain Names

The cyber-squatters of the domain names bmwmotorrad.com.vn, bmw-motorrad.com.vn, bmwmotorrad.vn, and bmw-motorrad.vn was brought to the court by BMW.

BMW argued in court that the name being used by these cyber-squatters was a clear case of appropriating their trademarked domain name and benefitting from their reputation and popularity.

On the contrary, the cyber-squatters argued that the ‘BMW’ in the above-mentioned domain names is not related to the BMW trademark. They even went on to claim it stood for Be My Wife.

BMW made a counter argument the BMW trademark is well-known in Vietnam, questioned the intention behind registering such a prestigious domain name and closed their statement by saying that the cyber-squatters used them in bad faith.

BMW demanded the surrender of the disputed domain names, compensation for damages, recovery of legal fees, and a public apology in the mass media. And the judges sided with most of BMW’s claims, except the claim for damages, which was denied due to the lack of evidence for actual monetary damages.

Thus, the cyber-squatters got the most severe punishment ever received by a cyber-squatting crime in a Vietnamese Court.

3. Redbull and Wasted Domains

Red Bull is wasting money on domain name disputes. Is this some kind of tactics or irresponsibility?

Red Bull is the most popular energy drink and they are often at the receiving end of various domain name issues. Competitors often try to poach Red Bull online customers with domain infringement methods.

They are known for spending huge amounts of money to resolve these domain disputes through UDRP. However, they often leave these disputes without transferring the domain name to their ownership. They simply get it canceled for the time being, which will be available for registering soon.

Red Bull has won over 70 domain dispute cases and now, they own only 4 of the domain names. Is it some tactics to scare off cyber squatters or are they simply being lax on these procedures?

We don’t know what they are aiming at, but a better solution to stop cyber-squatters will be to file a copyright infringement on a local court near where the cyber-squatter lives. UDRP’ing will not cost the cyber-squatters any money, but filing a case at the local court will make them run for their dear life.

4. Uzi Nissan Vs Nissan

Uzi Nissan fought an 8 year domain name dispute with Nissan Motor Corporation and won. Uzi Nissan and his famous question, "What it will do to this little guy"

We all know Nissan, the famous Japanese car manufacturer. But, most of us don’t know Uzi Nissan, owner of the domain name nissan.com. 

Uzi Nissan was a US immigrant, who owned various businesses in America and named them using his last name. The prominent one among them was Nissan Computer Corporation. He has been battling with the car-manufacturing giant, Nissan Motor Corporation for domain name ownership since the 1980s. 

In 1999, Nissan motor corporation filed a 10 million lawsuit against Uzi Nissan for owning the domain name nissan.com. The case went on for 8 years and  Uzi Nissan won the lawsuit in 2007. He is an inspiration for many; for all the hardships he had to face.

In 2020, Uzi Nissan died due to Covid-19 complications. And now, the website nissan.com has almost disappeared and what remains is a landing page with an email address info@nissan.com.

We will have to wait some more time to find out what will happen to the domain name!

5. France.com

What happened to the the domain name france.com is still a mystery.

Initially, the domain name france.com was under the ownership of Jean-Noël Frydman, a French man living in the United States who owned a Californian company, France.com, Inc. It operated as a travel site that included all the general information needed for any tourist coming to France. 

But, they didn’t own any trademarks in Europe. This allowed a Dutch company to register the domain name and graphic marks for France.com in Europe in 2010.

In 2014, France.com, Inc filed a suit against the Dutch company in France. Both parties agreed on a settlement under which the Dutch company transferred the trademarks to France.com, Inc. It seemed to end well for the moment. However, it was just the beginning.

This victory and trial made big headlines in France. It resulted in the French state claiming the trademarks for french.com in 2015. Subsequently, the ownership of the domain name was transferred to the  French state without any compensation. And, they redirected france.com to the English version of the france.fr website, the travel information site of the French government.

Jean-Noël Frydman didn’t go down with the bad omen that hit him. He was ready to fight back and took the litigation to the U.S. court. He alleged the French state of cyber-squatting, reverse domain hijacking, expropriating, trademark infringement, and federal unfair competition.

The U.S. court ordered France to pay $100,000 in this case. But, we don’t know for sure what happened to the lawsuit. An exciting turn of events, anyhow. However, now france.com is inaccessible and it is not available for sale as well.

6. Battle of Meta Vs Meta

Who will win the domain name dispute between the social media giant Meta and art-installation company Meta?

Facebook changed its name to Meta in October 2021. Consequentially, this was followed by many lawsuits, some of them fake. But let’s look at one that is genuine.

Meta (not Facebook) is a more than a decade-old installation-art company, providing various goods and services under the Meta mark. But, their goods and services are now associated with the social media giant Meta (previously Facebook).

They tried negotiating with Facebook for eight months. Nevertheless, that hasn’t been fruitful and meta.is is suing Facebook (now meta and uses the domain name meta.com).

Facebook could have avoided this lawsuit by properly communicating with meta.is. Instead, what they focused on was discrediting meta.is.

Meta.is is going to face a difficult battle in court, irrespective of the fact they hold the valid trademark for the name. It will be interesting to keep a close watch on the court proceedings!

7. Jeb Bush Vs Donald Trump

In this digital era, protecting respective domain names is a must, especially in the political scenario.

Election campaigns mainly happen through rallies and events. But, now it is shifting to online platforms as well. 

Especially in the U.S., presidential candidates register domain names for their websites before the race begins. But, this is often used against the candidates. 

For example, the 2016 U.S. presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s website was jeb2016.com. But they didn’t register the other possible domain names, even after the warnings from experts. Trump’s election team registered one domain name similar to that; jebbush.com. Thus, jebbush.com was used to redirect people to Donald Trump’s website. 

This move was a clever thing to do and a lesson for future presidential candidates!

Finally, the Lessons Learned

With all the cases mentioned above, you may have an understanding of the methods to deal with domain name disputes. 

So, finding and securing the right domain name for your business is not enough. Moreover, being ready to deal with ugly domain name disputes is a must. 

If you believe in your future growth and capabilities, then Veeble can help you register the perfect domain name for your business. We also provide affordable and secure web hosting services.

Take a few lessons from the ugly domain wars and make a quick move to ensure your domain name is yours only!

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