Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Bad Call For Referee Dispute

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the no-instant-replay dept.

The Internet 162

mcwop writes: "What can be said? One can only hope that this case gets appealed and eReferee wins. People assume that you are safe if a site, which has its name registered first, is in operation. Not only does this decision squash that notion, the name in dispute is not exactly the same. Referee magazine compared to eReferee.com. When will common sense prevail?" Here's the arbitration decision - I don't know of a copy of the court ruling. In many cases, individuals have been the victim of poor decisions rendered by ICANN arbitration panels. This is a case where the arbitration panel appears to have made the right decision, but a Federal judge stepped in and reversed it. Update: 02/16 03:15 PM by J : A quick comment on the nature of arbitration...

I'm frankly surprised we haven't seen more of these cases, and I'll expect to see more in the future. Because arbitration under the UDRP is not binding in the U.S. court system, or any court system that I know of, the loser can always sue the winner. And, in any case of any importance, will.

If GM and Ford have a disagreement about a domain name, do you think the results of an arbitration ruling mean jack to them? Will they meekly accept the results of some international panel and go home?

No, of course not. The loser will file the court case the same day. To them, an arbitration decision means nothing except maybe a rhetorical point for their lawyer to bring up.

Large corporations can never lose an arbitration, they can only win it. It's individuals and small corporations, who don't have the resources for an extended court battle, who stand to lose under the UDRP.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

The system is broken (1)

autocracy (192714) | more than 13 years ago | (#426815)

Face it, when you give a limited number of people a choice, you'll get off results. It's like flipping a penny twice: odds are just as well that you'll get 2 heads or 2 tails as they are that you'll get 1 head and 1 tail. What do you do to fix that? You flip the coin many times!

I suggest that we post disputes to a special section on /. and let users figure it out...

The problem with capped Karma is it only goes down...

geez (1)

divert (188449) | more than 13 years ago | (#426816)

This is the most ridiculous ruling i've heard in a domain name case.. then they want to sue them if they loose money over a boycott also.. are people just getting dumber or what?????

Here we go again (2)

wuice (71668) | more than 13 years ago | (#426817)

Let's spin the old discussion from a few days/weeks/months ago again. I remember when etoy sued eToys, all of this nonsense suddenly became good and just for a split second. Then SSH threatened legal action against OpenSSH; once again the process is evil. Now this. When will common sense prevail? That's not a question for slashdot to answer, that's for sure. This is a ridiculous action, just like eToys vs. etoy, etoy vs. eToys, SSH vs. OpenSSH (at least they're civil about it) and the whole lot of them. I will say this, though..

Threatening to sue a company because their actions against said company caused a consumer boycott; that's the laugh of the day. Has anyone ever heard of this type of legal action before? "These guys forced us to be petty and mean, which caused people not to like us, which caused them not to buy our magazine." Wah!

They sort of have a point (2)

sharkticon (312992) | more than 13 years ago | (#426818)

This would be a more tricky case than it seems if the judge hadn't gone way overboard on his decision, past even what Referee's lawyers wanted. I mean, it basically gives Referee the rights over the use of that word, even in the path. This is (obviouly) wrong.

But their original point does stand. Having two sites Referee.com and eReferee.com is confusing, especially when it comes to things like search engines and so on. There needs to be a way to ensure sites are easily distinguishable so that things like this aren't necessary.

Unfortunately ICANN isn't going to be doing anything about it. They're far too deeply in the pockets of corporate USia, and they are quite happy to let big corporations take anyone to court wherever there's even the slightest hint they might win.

If they can do that, then i'm doing this (1)

SGDarkKnight (253157) | more than 13 years ago | (#426819)

How about I go and register a domain name using only vowels for the name. Would that give me the right to have every site using vowels to be taken down? I guess that may be going a little extream but (at least I think) it has the same concept behind it. Any comments?

Re:The system is broken (1)

wuice (71668) | more than 13 years ago | (#426820)

Oh man.. You know, I might not be fond of our current system.. But I sure hope you aren't suggesting (even in jest) that slashdot should be arbiters in any sort of legal case whatsoever. That's gotta be just about the absolute worst idea in the history of global law. The inquisition, the salem witch trials, none of it matches up to what a slashdot with legal authority would be.

*shudder*

Seems fair enough (4)

Yoshi Have Big Tail (312184) | more than 13 years ago | (#426821)

I have studied intellectual property law, and there is protection for this.

It's called passing off - where a product or company is confusingly similar to another company, such that consumers might be misled, the tort of passing off is committed.

In this case, there is certainly such a risk of confusion - many companies simply prepend e to their names to form their electronic division - and so ereferee would seem to be referee's electronic division.

It is not, as is claimed a ban on the use of the word. This is a very restrictive action in law, designed to protect the goodwill of companies trading from ripoff merchants.

If this happened in the physical world, there would be no complaint, so why should the internet be any difference?

It's just the natural evolution of the internet - as it comes under the same regulation as the rest of human endeavor, companies will be protected at last.

I really can't see any problem here.

Great business idea (1)

PyRoNeRd (179292) | more than 13 years ago | (#426822)

I am going to set up a company called Domain Name Trademarkers Inc. whose only business plan is to trademark the names of popular websites and force them to either cough up lots of money or hand over the "stolen" site.

What a wonderful world we live in! Predatory capitalism in it's finest form. Hitler and Adam Smith would be proud!

Re:If they can do that, then i'm doing this (1)

wuice (71668) | more than 13 years ago | (#426823)

well.. with all due respect for the ridiculousness of this suit, I'd have to say that there's a little more similarity between referee.com and ereferee.com than aeiou.com and slashdot.org.

CNET Article Seems to Contradict the Arbitrator (2)

dave_aiello (9791) | more than 13 years ago | (#426824)

OK, now I see that the CNET article says that eReferee lost. But, the arbitration decision seems to contradict this.

Ah, I see now, the arbitrator's ruling was part of the ICANN dispute resolution process. Referee Magazine didn't like the result, went to Federal Court and won. And, since the ICANN process is non-binding, eReferee really lost.

Guys, if I understand this correctly, the Slashdot story really doesn't reflect what happened.
--

Dave Aiello

Re:Are You Sure eReferee Lost? (1)

klingler (71918) | more than 13 years ago | (#426825)

At the Arbitration level, eReferee did win. But then the Court overturned that ruling (at least temporarily) with a restraining order. At this point in time, eReferee is the loser.

You can read more about it here... http://www.officiating.com/index.cgi?page=letter2

Later,
Rob

Re:Are You Sure eReferee Lost? (1)

hmmm (115599) | more than 13 years ago | (#426826)

uhm the point is they won the arbitration decision but subsequently lost a court challenge. It's a sign of a system gone mad when common english words can be challenged. It equally reflects a lack of common sense in the justice system when it makes such interpretations. Time for a rethink...

Re:Are You Sure eReferee Lost? (1)

curiosity (152527) | more than 13 years ago | (#426827)

Why was this moderated to 3: Insightful? He didn't even read the article or the headline blurb.
The arbitrator found in favor of eReferee.com. That's ICANN's board. Then, a US Federal court reversed the order, saying eReferee.com can't use the trademark "referee" *anywhere* in the address, not even in the path.

Good news for AOL/Time Warner (2)

funkman (13736) | more than 13 years ago | (#426828)

I guess that means Time(tm) magazine can go after any website with Time in the title.

Not like there are any news sites like that out there.

Quality of judicial decisions (1)

Gallowglass (22346) | more than 13 years ago | (#426829)

Is it just my perception or are nonsensical judgements like this only being issued in the US? Are similar decisions being handed down in other jurisdictions or is this just the result of electing judges rather than appointing them on the basis of their expertise?

Re:Are You Sure eReferee Lost? (1)

Myrv (305480) | more than 13 years ago | (#426830)

Yes, eReferee won the arbitration but then lost the subsequent lawsuit. They were two different preceedings.

This is censorship. (1)

LordArathres (244483) | more than 13 years ago | (#426831)

First of all I do NOT agree with the Judge in this case. eReferee should be allowed to use its domain name. If Referee Magazine had a problem with it, they can and did challange it, they lost so what do they do, they Sue!!! I mean companies will continue to sue anything and everyone until they get their way, they have the money for it.

Lately it looks as though whoever is more famous (read : money) will win court cases because of the enourmous cost of a court battle. This is completely wrong.

Second The judge had NO right to prevent eReferee from using the word "referee" in their website. Is that not Censorship! I guess the freedom of speech and expression do not matter in this case. So if I make a site that a big company doesnt like IBM (International Business Machines) they can sue and I then CANNOT use the words INTERNATIONAL, BUSINESS, or MACHINES!!! How stupid does that sound. Maybe IBM should start suing people that use the word business or international, they have the money for it!

This case just goes so show that a lot of people dont know crap about the net ( read : Presiding Judge) and will make bad descicions because lawyers are good at what they do ( read : Bullshit ).

Lord Arathres

Re:Are You Sure eReferee Lost? (1)

Gill Bates (88647) | more than 13 years ago | (#426832)

Yes, eReferee lost. If you had read the article [cnet.com] , you'd have noticed that the arbitrator's decision was overturned.

Strong medecine needed for lawyers. Like arsenic. (5)

crovira (10242) | more than 13 years ago | (#426833)

The problem stems from the use of words to name things. Referee, eReferee, iReferee, eReferee, iReferee, oReferee.

Naming things is a HARD and expensive problem (see: Coca-Cola Co. & "Ttab," shortened to "Tab.")

However its made almost impossible by lawyers who, lacking common sense and speaking in gibberish, (did you know that the legal definition of "better" is "as good as"?) utterly throw the notion of language as a consually derived means of communication into a cocked hat and have turned it into a revenue producing source of obfustation.

That's why Prince went with TAFKSP and that logo as symbolically representing him. The lawyers couldn't get a handle on it.

That's also why the Canadian government gives all Amerindians band and individual numbers. Their names change according to the lives they have lived and what one may call him or her self may not be what others call him or her.

Yes, we are sure eReferee lost? (1)

Pogue Mahone (265053) | more than 13 years ago | (#426834)

If you read the article, you'd see that eReferee won the ICANN arbitration, but then Referee(tm) took the matter to some federal court and won there.

IMHO it's time to get businesses like this (Referee, not eReferee) off the internet. Maybe ICANN should have the right to suspend or withdraw domain names for companies who bring the internet into dispute.

Oh, and ;-) ... well, maybe.
--

Re:Quality of judicial decisions (2)

curiosity (152527) | more than 13 years ago | (#426835)


Remember the judge in France who decided that Yahoo had to determine if a visitor was French, and prevent them from seeing auctions involving Nazi memorabilia?

Re:They sort of have a point (5)

Roofus (15591) | more than 13 years ago | (#426836)


But their original point does stand. Having two sites Referee.com and eReferee.com is confusing, especially when it comes to things like search engines and so on

Do you ever confuse www.bay.com and www.ebay.com?

Apt name (3)

horza (87255) | more than 13 years ago | (#426837)

Does anyone else find it ironic that eReferee sounds a pretty good name for an online arbitration site?

Phillip.

Re:The system is broken (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#426838)

It's like flipping a penny twice: odds are just as well that you'll get 2 heads or 2 tails as they are that you'll get 1 head and 1 tail.

Spoken like a true academic.

I Made the Mistake of Reading the Arbitration 1st (2)

dave_aiello (9791) | more than 13 years ago | (#426839)

I apologize, but, I read the arbitrator's decision first. At the time I posted my first comment on the Slashdot article, I didn't realize that the the CNET article reported that the Federal judge contradicted the arbitrator.
--

Dave Aiello

Other sites under the gun... (4)

tenzig_112 (213387) | more than 13 years ago | (#426840)

People who prefer to misspell a particular form of lumbardial back injury are suing us over the name "ridiculopathy.com."

It's a made-up word. We haven't had a chance to tell them that. They believe that rAdiculopathy is so common a misspelling that we have no right to do business under our proper name.

Our only hope is to get the word ridiculopathy entered into Websters next edition.

Ridiculopathy
n : 1. A phenomenon brought about by ridiculous circumstances; 2. A field of science studying ridiculous phenomena. Ridiculopath a practitioner of the science of Ridiculopathy.

Help us convince Merriam-Webster [ridiculopathy.com]

Re:Seems fair enough (1)

PyRoNeRd (179292) | more than 13 years ago | (#426841)

The problem is that the domain name space isn't divided into classes. Several companies can hold the same trademark for different classes.

For example Apple Records holds the trademark for Apple in the music biz and Apple Computers holds the trademark for computers. Can The Beatles sue Apple computer for Apple.com because their label trademarked Apple before the computer company did?

Ajax is a footbal club, a cleaning liquid and a brand of fire extinguishers. So who has the rights to ajax.com? Is it the most monied trademark holder or the oldest one?

Who won? (1)

ers81239 (94163) | more than 13 years ago | (#426842)

Reading the arbitration, it appears that ereferee did win! It says that the complaintant must prove these conditions:

1. The domain names registered by the Respondent are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;

2. The Respondent has no legitimate interest in respect of the domain name; and
3. The domain names have been registered and used in bad faith.


And then in the end it says:

15) Under the circumstances, and on balance, I find for the Respondent as to the three Domain names and deny the Petition.


This means that they AREN'T going to change the domain ownership just because this guy has trademarked "Referee".

Redesign the domain name system. (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 13 years ago | (#426843)

I realise this is shutting the door after the horse has bolted, but I think that if we were redoing domain name allocation, "We wouldn't start from here!", to use a famous phrase.

I think that a complete reallocation system, with the following features would be a Good Thing (TM).

Each country has a TLD. Only a resident/ company of that country may register in that TLD. [Stops the silly .tv (Tuvalu) situation]

Under each country is a special limited set of second level domains reserved for:
trademarks
company names
other areas where a unique name is important [authors, pop groups].
Disputes for the above domains are settled in the courts of the TLD country.

All other domain names are allocated on a first come first served basis. Trademark and naming disputes are avoided by specifically stating that all other domains have nothing in common with registered companies or trademarks.

Any web site may only have one domain name. (incidentally, this rule limits domain name camping).

International TLDs exist for organisations, but to qualify for such a domain, membership in over 30 countries must be demonstrated.

Suggestions....

The real bullshit... (1)

jjoyce (4103) | more than 13 years ago | (#426844)

...with this is that Referee magazine is considering a lawsuit for lost business because of the boycotts and subscription cancellations by angry eReferee members. WTF?

Not only that, but after eReferee changed its name to officiating.com, Referee magazine wants an injuction against them to prevent them from operating. What a bunch of assholes.

Re:Seems fair enough (1)

Yoshi Have Big Tail (312184) | more than 13 years ago | (#426845)

This is also covered by law.

There has to be a risk of confusion. For example, MacDonalds construction and McDonalds burgers have no risk of confusion.

Basically if you are in widely different industries, it's ok. In this case, however, both products are magazines, so confusion is likely.

Jurisdiction (5)

Nidhogg (161640) | more than 13 years ago | (#426846)

Is it me or did this judge just pull all of ICANN's teeth with a crowbar?

What do we have here. ICANN came to a decision in arbitration in favor of the Respondent Planet Ref Inc. Referee Enterprises Inc. didn't like the outcome of arbitration so they went whining to a judge who overturned ICANN's decision.

So what kind of precedence does this set? This, in effect, tells anyone who doesn't like ICANN's decisions regarding domain disputes to go ahead and take it to court anyway.

I thought one of the purposes of ICANN was to keep this kind of stuff out of the courts.

Fair enough if... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#426847)

...it was eNike or something, but eReferee!???

Does that mean that these guys [bay.com] can sue these guys [ebay.com] ? AFAIK, this is the same issue, sticking an 'e' on the front. ;)

Grief! If we'd done the same with other industry prefixes like inter-, micro- or tele- we'd be stuffed. Now we get sued over 'e', 'i' and that stupid '@' symbol...

Actually, Nike was the Greek goddess of victory; where are her lawyers then? Defamation of character "Sirs, I believe my name is being tainted by being associated by a company that makes shoes...". It all comes down to how big your comapny is nowadays, doesn't it? Corporateness sucks!

Re:Seems fair enough (2)

jandrese (485) | more than 13 years ago | (#426848)

Ajax is a footbal club, a cleaning liquid and a brand of fire extinguishers. So who has the rights to ajax.com? Is it the most monied trademark holder or the oldest one?

The one who got there first. However, if one of the other Ajaxes go to this judge, then they will likely be able to wrest the domain from the legitimate owner...

Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.

The court ruling came after the arbitration.. (1)

bigtoy (170668) | more than 13 years ago | (#426849)

The Arbitration was not the same as the Trademark Ruling. Two different Judges.

You had me up to... (2)

bigtoy (170668) | more than 13 years ago | (#426850)

...the part where the ruling indicates the company may not use the term referee in the directory structure.

What if a different company wants to sale referee uniforms and had the term referee in the path name. With this ruling the owners of "Referee" could go after them.

In this situation it is not a "tort of passing off".

Re:Redesign the domain name system. (1)

abdulwahid (214915) | more than 13 years ago | (#426851)

All other domain names are allocated on a first come first served basis. Trademark and naming disputes are avoided by specifically stating that all other domains have nothing in common with registered companies or trademarks.

Well we do have a similar set-up to this in the UK. Except that it doesn't work. We have .ltd.uk and plc.uk that can only be registered by companies who trade under the name (a limited or public company) that they register. We then have the .co.uk which is a free for all. It seems though that no one is interested in the ltd.uk and the plc.uk which is why you don't see them around.

Also, many countries do in fact require that you have an address in their country before registering one of their domains. And it would be much better if all the countries did that. Then the Cocos Islands wouldn't have so many thousand domains registered for their 700 citizens.

Since when did Wisconsin own the Internet? (3)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 13 years ago | (#426852)

This sort of stupid arrogance makes everyone outside the United States of America extremely irritated. Wisconsin does not have jurisdiction over the Internet. The United States of America does not have jurisdiction over the Internet. All eReferee need do is move to Europe, Asia, or anywhere remotely sensible, and continue trading under their own domain name.

Re:They sort of have a point (1)

rhino777 (96243) | more than 13 years ago | (#426853)

Yes I have actually....

Re:Seems fair enough (1)

drinnen (316203) | more than 13 years ago | (#426854)

One important difference between the physical world of commerce and the internet world of e-commerce is that in the physical world many businesses in different cities, states, and countries share the same business name or have names that are very similar. Most business owners do not do this to deceive customers, but instead choose names that sound appealing for their particular product or service -- and since many people find the same things appealing, there is repetition. In the physical world (except for large or multinational companies), this is not a problem because customers usually want to do business with nearby companies and are not even aware of competing businesses in far away locations, so there is no overlap. Since the internet changes the world from many different areas into just one location, this problem of "you stole my name" has developed. I think that the "first come, first served" approach for domain names is the best solution for this problem provided that the domain name is actually being used (and not just held for possible re-sale), and that it is not being used to deceive customers into thinking that the site really IS another company.

Re:Seems fair enough (3)

hey! (33014) | more than 13 years ago | (#426855)

If this happened in the physical world, there would be no complaint, so why should the internet be any difference?

Well, I can possibly see revoking the domain name, but the complete banning of the word "referee" from URLs is way over the top. The physical world equivalent is that you not only cannot use the word "Referee" in your magazine title, you can't use it in article titles or indices.

It's perilously close to giving trademark holders absolute right to the use of a common word in their sphere of business.

Re:If they can do that, then i'm doing this (1)

SGDarkKnight (253157) | more than 13 years ago | (#426856)

like i said, using vowels would be a little extream, but think about specific words. Like trade marking the word "future". would that grant me the right to take down all sites with the word future in it?

Good point! (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#426857)

How come I never have moderator points when I see a post like this. Hope this gets modded up to 5.

Re:Seems fair enough (5)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 13 years ago | (#426858)

I don't agree, but you may have a point on the eReferee part. The problem, however, is that this lawsuit is applying to all domains with referee in the name. From the new eReferee (Officiating.com) web site:

A preliminary injunction has been issued which prevents RightSports from using its eReferee.com domain name and logo. The injunction also prevents RightSports from developing websites using other domain names that it owns. In short, RightSports is prohibited from any domain containing the word "Referee."

They also list about 40 other domain names that their partent company, RightSports, owns, that they are now forbidden to use, such as referee101.org, refereebooks.com, vollyballreferee.com, etc.

Now please tell me you honestly believe that each and every one of these sites is, "likely to cause confusion or mistakes or to deceive the public" concerning Referee Magazine. It's a load of BS. And here we have main reason why domain name lawsuits like this are bad. Basically, because of some short-sighted judge, Referee Magazine now owns the word referee, at least as it pertains to the internet.

Think this sort of thing would have been allowed to happen in the magazine publishing world? "Oh, gee, sorry, you can't publish any magazine with 'Referee' in the title in any form, we own that word." Or the television industry? "Nope, sorry, you can't create a TV show called The X-Files, The Rockford Files already owns the word 'Files'."

It's one thing if a company is protecting a brand name in this manner, i.e. Coca Cola or Disney. But referee is a common, public domain word. Referee Magazine didn't invent the word, they don't have any more right to the word then anyone else.

Referee.com in corporate bed w/ Sports Illustrated (2)

bee (15753) | more than 13 years ago | (#426859)

Going to referee.com, they've announced an alliance with Sports Illustrated. Looks like it's time to let SI know that their corporate partner is being a crying spoiled brat on the Internet and generally making bad net.press for themselves, and that maybe they should think twice about being associated with them.

---

Why does this deserve our attention? (1)

imadork (226897) | more than 13 years ago | (#426860)

There are two things in this story that make this different than most other Domain Name stories:

First, the silly trademark involved. I'm not a lawyer, but trademarking dictionary words seems weak to me, especially when the word is a description of the service they provide!
For instance, everybody here agrees that Apple Computer has a legitimate trademark for Apple, even though it is a common word. But if Apple had just called itself "A Computer Company", would they have the trademark on "Computer", which "Computer Shopper" magazine would infringe on? I think not, although my (non-lawyerly) opinion is worthless. This case is similar. If Referee Magazine wanted to not be confused with every other Referee-oriented business, they should not have chosen a generic name!

Second, the US Federal Courts just sang a long rendition of "You're Not The Boss Of Me Now" to ICANN, utterly rejecting their authority over domain names. If this stands, then who actually holds jurisdiction over domain names? I nominate Taco.

The /. effect (1)

Tut'n'common (314243) | more than 13 years ago | (#426861)

So let's all send a nice little email to:
mdougherty@referee.com
And let them know of our concern about this. If they threaten legal action against a boycott, for crying out loud, they are obviously out of touch with the real world.
We just need to help them see the truth.


Re:Seems fair enough (1)

sallen (143567) | more than 13 years ago | (#426862)

It is not, as is claimed a ban on the use of the word. This is a very restrictive action in law, designed to protect the goodwill of companies trading from ripoff merchants. If this happened in the physical world, there would be no complaint, so why should the internet be any difference? It's just the natural evolution of the internet - as it comes under the same regulation as the rest of human endeavor, companies will be protected at last. I really can't see any problem here.

IANAL...BUT... I can see a significant problem here, in that it would seem the judge's ruling was way too broad. The magazine 'Referee' is a generic term, about/for 'referee's'. While there may be some confusion between their name and ereferee.com to require some consideration, it seems completely inappropriate to ban any use of the term 'referee' in their name, description, or index. An analogy would be to say that becuase someone like Computer World might have a trademake, that nobody else would ever be able to use the word 'Computer' in the name of a publication about computers. I can't believe this wouldn't be overturned in appeal. I can't believe the judge wouldn't be admonished, but then again, I don't expect that to happen. The only word I know that WOULD be precluded in a similar circumstance is 'Olympics', and THAT is only because of specific legislation dealing with that word only. I have a problem with the logo confict as well, but this judge seems so far off the mark that it wouldn't even be worth discussing. (But I believe the referee organzations themselves would have prior use of white stripes and whilstles.. and if they publish so much as a newsletter, they out to tell referee magazine to start paying the royalties.)

Re:Strong medecine needed for lawyers. Like arseni (2)

nquartz (263550) | more than 13 years ago | (#426863)

As I understand it, it is the term "best" which is by legal definititon the same as "as good as." The courts assume the quality of all products to be equally "best." You can also use the term "better" in advertising if you're not naming names, but if you use someone else's trademark in advertising and say you're "better" than they are, you have to have comparison data to back you up lest you get yerself sued.

Re:Strong medecine needed for lawyers. Like arseni (3)

Tyriphobe (28459) | more than 13 years ago | (#426864)

That's also why the Canadian government gives all Amerindians band and individual numbers

You mean like banding birds? Do Mounties really set up big nets to catch Native Americans, put a metal band around their ankle, and then let them go free again? And I thought Canadians were liberal... ;)

Sorry, I've been awake for too long.

Re:They sort of have a point (3)

baptiste (256004) | more than 13 years ago | (#426865)

And when you realized the mistake, you reentered the URL (or horrors actually used a bookmark ;) ) and went to the right site - big deal!

As long as eReferee.com has a prominent message saying "We are in no way affiliated with Referee Magazine, etc, etc" all is good. Seems like most companies come up with solutions like this.

Heck - I used to work for NORTEL when it was Northern Telecom and remember when they switched names. Some small outfit named Ortel in CA sued saying it was confusing. The result? NORTEL was forced to put "Nortel Networks" under the NORTEL name in small print on all sings, publications, etc.

Not a huge deal - simple enough and it avoids confusion. I wish others could do the smart thing istead of the 'sue for profit' thing :)

--

Re:Seems fair enough (1)

Squirrel Killer (23450) | more than 13 years ago | (#426866)

"...both products are magazines..."

Huh? eReferee is a website and Referee Magazine is a magazine. I realize that both are news sources, but how can you say that their both magazines? Is /. a magazine?

Web sites and magazine are vastly different things. A magazine requires a physical distribution network, printing presses, layout people, etc... A web site requires a server, a decent internet connection, network admins, etc... They may both be sources of information, but would eHistory.com infrige on The History Channel?

-sk

Re:Jurisdiction (3)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 13 years ago | (#426867)

If ICANN's arbitration is going to have any teeth, then they are going to have to add a step to domain registration, where the domain holder signs an agreement that they will abide by arbitrators' decisions.

Whether this is a good idea or not, depends on who you trust more: ICANN's arbitration process, or the legal system.


---

Re:Quality of judicial decisions (1)

baptiste (256004) | more than 13 years ago | (#426868)

Yeah and Belgian police arresting Napster users? [slashdot.org] Yes, the US is going nuts with Copyright and IP and patent decisions, but leave it to the EU to come up with the most bizarre cases and decisions.

--

Re:Seems fair enough (1)

TicTacTux (99149) | more than 13 years ago | (#426869)

Stop trademarking descriptive names! . Basically the magazine company should not have been allowed to put up referee.com in the first place. (As an aside note, I'd personally search for http://www.refereemag.com if I went after an online version)

They (dah mag) might stand a chance if they held a portal site directed to all kinds of referees.

If they were clever they'd ask eReferee to put a link on their home page pointing to theirs (and possibly vice versa). That way you theoretically double the possible visitors while still sporting that scarce common-sense attitude.
But lawyers and common sense probably don't match.

What about Windows(tm) (1)

multicsfan (311891) | more than 13 years ago | (#426870)

Does this then mean that Microsoft owns the word windows and the presence of any directory on a persons computer names windows is illegal? Does this mean makers of glass windows can't use the word windows to advertize their products on the net?

Value of name (2)

Srin Tuar (147269) | more than 13 years ago | (#426871)

That is an excellent point, about a name not needing to be a fixed entity.

We take the concept of a first+last name as an immutable part of our identities. It becomes a label which identifies us, but says nothing else about us. You cannot tell anything about a person from their "real" name.

Its possible that the "net" culture is changing this. Alot of people new to things such as email, unix usernames, etc, tend to use a derivative of their realname. However, Ive noticed that my younger brothers have no artificial attachments.

They go through identities roughshod, having no overwhelming attachment to any of them, but giving each a little life of its own. Ive noticed them even change their mannerisms to match the personae they take on.

This also reminds me of my favorite dialog from the matrix- "my name is neo". He wasnt lieing- a name you pick for yourself is more real than one assigned to you.

As for the trademark problem: It could be fixed relatively easily. Simply setup a national or global name registry of non-case sensitive, alphabetic strings. If you try to gain a name that matches another exactly you will be denied. If you are so much as one letter off- you are granted the string.

Logo's might be a bit more subjective though. A way to make it objective would be to require that the company string be near or in the logo.

Ass Raped Monkey (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 13 years ago | (#426872)

Let's just shut the root servers down and go back to IP addresses and host tables. Maybe as a side benefit that'd scare away some of the idiots who seem to be taking over the Internet.

Gene Pool pollution (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#426873)

Time to add more chlorine to the gene pool, me thinks.

You know what this means:

1) opportunities for people who like to post satire and political speech sites like "stupidreferee.com". (Go Team Go!)
2) Tremendous headaches for the public officers and reporters of Referee Magazine [referee.com] with all of the people who like to telephone, mail, or email folks like that. Although their contact information page is minimal, they do have an 800 number for subsriptions.

Just be polite to the Customer Service folks (we have all been through tech support hell), and call from a payphone.

Referee Magazine is owned by Referee Enterprises, of Racine, Wisconsin.

Their phone number is public, and very easy to find.

Re:Jurisdiction (1)

Nidhogg (161640) | more than 13 years ago | (#426874)

I agree. That's the only solution I see as well.

And I have my doubts like you whether that would be a Good Thing(tm).

I would be interested to know if the arbitration decision was even presented to the judge. I would hope the Respondent's attorney would be clueful enough to do that. If he did, then why didn't the judge say "This has already been settled in arbitration. Dismissed."?

Crap! I was going to get "ecocacola.com"! (1)

JiveDonut (135491) | more than 13 years ago | (#426875)

I mean, no one could possibly confuse it with cocacola.com. Looks like the domain eslashdot.org just expired. Hurry!

Idiots (1)

imipak (254310) | more than 13 years ago | (#426876)

>People assume that you are safe if a site, which has its name registered first, is in operation.

Only if they're complete morons, or have been living in a cave for the past five years. Hello? WIPO? WTO? Ever read The Register [theregister.co.uk] ?
--
If the good lord had meant me to live in Los Angeles

Re:Seems fair enough (2)

tshak (173364) | more than 13 years ago | (#426877)

There are two problems here:

1st, "Referee" is a word, not some made-up product name. If you use a word in the english language as part of your company/product name, you risk branding confusion. You can not/should not be able to copyright an english word. (now a french word, that's another story!)

2nd, the Internet brings global economy. If you want to play global, you have to accept the fact that it will be much harder to establish your unique presence. Who's to say who thought up of a name (or idea) "first"? Ladies and gentlemen, we have to share. Your ideas are generally not unique, and someone's probably doing what you're doing somewhere else - which doesn't mean that they stole your idea/trademark etc.

Read the article - scary stuff (5)

nanojath (265940) | more than 13 years ago | (#426878)

Usually if I dig in these slashdot world gone mad rights articles tends to be a bit more grayscale and ambiguous in the unabridged version. This one gets scarier when you read more. The magazine wants to sue if customers who disagree with the decision boycott the magazine? They want to prevent eReferree from publishing response to the court case? Good God. We're gonna sue you, you're going to take it, and like it, and if your customers (or OUR customers) complain, why, we'll sue you again! Boycott this magazine.

Re:Here we go again (2)

Ian Wolf (171633) | more than 13 years ago | (#426879)

(Disclaimer: Once upon a time I was a law student, before I saw the light, but I am still not a lawyer.)

However, I think I recall (aka I'm too lazy to do any research right now) a provision of the Sherman AntiTrust Act that stated that advocating a boycott of a competitor was considered an unfair business practice. I believe it is possible that Referee Magazine could use that clause (or even some case law out there) to go after eReferee.com for "allegedly" sponsoring a boycott.

The problem with that stance may be that the two are not competitors (may be irrelevant) and it sounds like eReferee has nothing to do with sponsoring this boycott. However, to flip it around again Referee Magazine could argue, and depending on the judge they get, that eReferee, by allowing a discussion of a boycott on their forums is in fact sponsoring the boycott implicitly.

Or I could be talking out my ass. :)

Re:Seems fair enough (2)

agallagh42 (301559) | more than 13 years ago | (#426880)

magazine (mg-zn, mg-zn) n.

A periodical containing a collection of articles, stories, pictures, or other features.

periodical (pr-d-kl) adj.

1. Periodic.

2. a. Published at regular intervals of more than one day.
2. b. Of or relating to a publication issued at such intervals.

So, yes, they're both magazines. One is a print magazine, the other is an online magazine. 60 Minutes is a television magazine. They're all the same basic thing, just packaged differently.

Re:I Made the Mistake of Reading the Arbitration 1 (1)

Puk (80503) | more than 13 years ago | (#426881)

Chances are this will be my first Score:0 post, but I just found it funny that you made a mistake (a perfectly understandable one, mind you), and then corrected yourself in a reply, and got modded up for both. :) Fun with slashdot.

-Puk

Re:Great business idea (1)

CaseStudy (119864) | more than 13 years ago | (#426882)

It's not a trademark until it's used in trade. Hence the name.

Re:The real bullshit... (1)

Squirrel Killer (23450) | more than 13 years ago | (#426883)

The real bullshit is that Referee Mag wants to stop eReferee from redirecting traffic from the now banned eReferee.com to the legit officiating.com.

Wouldn't that be even more confusing? Click on your bookmark or hyperlink to eReferee.com and get a 404. I'd assume that eReferee.com had gone belly up, just like so many other sites. That seems overly punitive. Not only does eReferee lose it's domain, but Referee Mag wants them to lose their current user base.

-sk

Levels of wrong (1)

ResHippie (105522) | more than 13 years ago | (#426884)

First off, ICANN rulings should be binding, often times they suck, but what's the point if they aren't binding?

Second, the fact that Right Sports can't even use the word referee as a directory name is so blatantly horrible I can't find the words.

Lastly, Referee wants institute a fine, for redirecting people from ereferee.com to officiating.com. Basically, they want Right Sports to be fined for making use of a domain name that they still own. All they are doing is address redirection, like if a company moves to a new building, and has their mail forwarded.

Ok, this is offtopic but I can't take it anymore! (1)

JCMay (158033) | more than 13 years ago | (#426885)

I'm so sick of this 31337 writing style, it just grates on my nerves...

sharkticon wrote:

USia
Where's this USia? The proper name of the country I think you're referring to is "The United States of America," and is sometimes referred to as the "USA" or "America." I also happen to like "The United States," although that might be ambiguous.

Also, "USA" is not pronounced as a word, it's /YOO-ESS-AY/.

Furthermore, if you intended to use "USia" as you would use "Asia," remember that there are several other countries in North America. Canada and Mexico, for instance. As far as I know, they're still independent, soveriegn nations

Furthermore, in case in the future you want to write a plural for the word "box," let me remind you that it's "boxes" and not "boxen." Just because there's an animal with a name that rhymes and has a wierd plural form doesn't mean that all words that end in X have plurals formed that way. Saying "boxen" just makes you look uneducated.

I admit that sometimes I say "England" when I mean "United Kingdom," but the part of the UK that I'm talking about when I say that is England. I just forget that I might be talking about Scotland, Ireland, the Falkland Islands and other places as well.

Re:Are You Sure eReferee Lost? (2)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 13 years ago | (#426886)

eReferee won the arbitration initially, but the arbitration result was overthrown by a federal judge.

Did anybody notice... (1)

Darth RadaR (221648) | more than 13 years ago | (#426887)

...That Referee.com [referee.com] has been going up and down with some desperate looking attempts at upgrading their site so that it looks like a legitimate e-commerce site.

Re:Quality of judicial decisions (1)

Whatanut (203397) | more than 13 years ago | (#426888)

Damn it, people. Please correct me if I'm wrong but that article on the napster users was not about napster users. It's about website operators. Read!

Re:Ok, this is offtopic but I can't take it anymor (1)

sharkticon (312992) | more than 13 years ago | (#426889)

Where's this USia? The proper name of the country I think you're referring to is "The United States of America," and is sometimes referred to as the "USA" or "America." I also happen to like "The United States," although that might be ambiguous.

America is actually a continent I think you'll find. Hence it is a collective term embracing the nations within it - Canada, Mexico, USia, Brazil, Argentina and so on. These are all American countries.

Furthermore, if you intended to use "USia" as you would use "Asia," remember that there are several other countries in North America. Canada and Mexico, for instance. As far as I know, they're still independent, soveriegn nations.

No because Asia is a continent, USia is a country, so they're not equivalent at all.

Saying "boxen" just makes you look uneducated.

True. Where did I say boxen?

Not sure that's a good idea (1)

Skinny Rob (110104) | more than 13 years ago | (#426890)

Tread carefully. I think that business model has already been patented, so you could find yourself being sued.

Didn't you notice? (2)

sherpajohn (113531) | more than 13 years ago | (#426891)

The dude in the flowing black robes sitting in the front row on the 50 yard line at the super bowl? He had a hat on with eReferee in a red circle with a big slash through it, and a bunch of soon to be XFL Cheerleaders in his lap. Ah, America: Justice For All (who can afford it).

Going on means going far
Going far means returning

Something we can about this: slashdotreferee.org (1)

KosovoYankee (310988) | more than 13 years ago | (#426892)

Onwership/trademark of common word in an online context is ridiculous. Not being able to name a directory /referee on a website is ridiculous. I am going to register as many ereferee and referee domans as possible, and rename all of my directories referee1, referee2, etc. I encourage you to do the same.

Re:Read the article - scary stuff (2)

nanojath (265940) | more than 13 years ago | (#426893)

Why not drop them a line at questions@referee.com and rattle their cage a bit. C'mon- you know they deserve it!

This won't survive an appeal (1)

beth_linker (210498) | more than 13 years ago | (#426894)

I'd be very surprised to see this decision hold up on appeal. If the arbitrator laid out the 3 criteria correctly (confusing similarity, no legitimate interest in the name, and bad faith registration or use), then there's no way that RightSports should lose the name because confusing similarity (whether or not it exists) is insufficient on its own.

Whether or not the names are similar is debatable, but it looks like a pretty blatant land-grab by Referee magazine. Given that both companies serve the same small market, I'm not surprised that their mutual customers are outraged by this and threatening a boycott. RightSports is providing much more value at a lower price, so Referee magazine is far more likely to alienate its own customers than to turn them against RightSports. Hopefully, this will eventually turn into a case study in why not to pull this kind of crap.

Re:Value of name (1)

Whatanut (203397) | more than 13 years ago | (#426895)

I don't think that's necessarily a good idea, though. Imagine having 26 domain names [a-z]Referee.com "Now was that rReferee.com or hReferee.com I was looking for?" Not to mention 20 of them would be pr0n,warez,banner ad sites leaving only 6 valid sites. Nightmare if you ask me.

Re:Are You Sure eReferee Lost? (1)

daBum (191224) | more than 13 years ago | (#426896)

can't use the trademark "referee" *anywhere* in the address, not even in the path.

Does this mean I'll be unable to set up a "BlindReferee.com" site, to show bad calls in action? After all, it does use the term "referee" in the address.

Just another case of corporate $ winning out in the federal courts. Remember, it's not how much you know, it's who you can afford in court.

I can go to dictionary.com too... (2)

Squirrel Killer (23450) | more than 13 years ago | (#426897)

publish (pub' lish) v.
1. To prepare and issue (printed material) for public distribution or sale.
2. To bring to the public attention; announce.

Despite FrontPage's nifty "Publish" command, I'd submit that a web site isn't published, it's uploaded.

For all the talk of "e-magazines" there is a vast difference between a web site and a magazine, and for that matter, a television magazine. That they're packaged differently by definition makes them different.

Re:Who won? (1)

Whatanut (203397) | more than 13 years ago | (#426898)

Unless you actually read the article. Then doors open to vast new worlds of understanding. The courts overturned the decision you're referencing. Try reading, eh?

Re:Ok, this is offtopic but I can't take it anymor (1)

Decado (207907) | more than 13 years ago | (#426899)

"I admit that sometimes I say "England" when I mean "United Kingdom," but the part of the UK that I'm talking about when I say that is England. I just forget that I might be talking about Scotland, Ireland, the Falkland Islands and other places as well."

Ireland is not part of the U.K. Northern Ireland is but the Republic of Ireland is not. Nice of you to make the same stupid mistake of blanketing areas falsely as being part of a larger whole while complaining about it yourself. That O level geography is really standing you in good stead today.

nightmare vision of the future (1)

cyberrodent (158321) | more than 13 years ago | (#426900)

someday we will have to pay license fees to the people who 'own' all the various words - most likely if the lawyers have their way authors will have to pay to use the words when they write them and readers will have to pay again when they read them. (if they could we would have to pay for thinking them to - assuming that there really is a language of though) The use of certain words in public speech will require payment of a fee to the owner of the word. This will break down and the owners of letters will charge for their use in the various words. forget free speech - we want speech positioned at the right price point.

this message brought to you by the letter 'e' - please make checks payable to....

Re:Seems fair enough (1)

marcop (205587) | more than 13 years ago | (#426901)

The problem, however, is that this lawsuit is applying to all domains with referee in the name.

Guess what's next... Probably any business that owns the .com AND has a generic English word for a business name will be able to get the other TLDs. Or, anyone who has their last name registered as a domain name is in jeopardy of having a dispute because there is a company that owns the other TLDs and uses it as their business name. This may be even for non-common names such as mine.

I wonder if this may be extended beyond trademark laws that currently allows two businesses to share names if they are not in the same industry.

Re:Jurisdiction (1)

Whatanut (203397) | more than 13 years ago | (#426902)

I believe the biggest problem with the legal system solution is the fact that it's not universal across the internet. Now what happens when the big US business decides to attack someone in Zimbabwe and looses to ICANN? Where to go from there?

Re:Referee.com in corporate bed w/ Sports Illustra (4)

FrandGunk (146027) | more than 13 years ago | (#426903)

This is probably the most effective way to put pressure on this corporation to recind it's ridiculous posistion.

Here is the contact info:

Amy Stober, Publicist
CNN/Sports Illustrated & CNNSI.com Public/Media Relations
Phone: (404) 827-5538
Fax: (404) 588-2057
amy.stober@turner.com [mailto]

Amy Sasser, Publicist
CNN/Sports Illustrated & CNNSI.com Public/Media Relations
Phone: (404) 827-5021
Fax: (404) 588-2057
amy.sasser@turner.com [mailto]

letters@si.timeinc.com [mailto]

cnnsi@cnnsi.com [mailto]

Re:Since when did Wisconsin own the Internet? (3)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 13 years ago | (#426904)

The Wisconsin judiciary have jurisdiction over the inhabitants of Wisconsin, though. If set up a web sire selling beverage recipies through cocacola.tv, then I have broken UK trademark law, and can be forced to stop by the UK courts. Fair enough. The problem is in the USPTO (yes, them again) allowing "referee" as a trademark.

Re:Seems fair enough (1)

UdoKeir (239957) | more than 13 years ago | (#426905)

How about WeReferEels.com?

Re:Since when did Wisconsin own the Internet? (1)

Whatanut (203397) | more than 13 years ago | (#426906)

In fact this kind of stupid arrogance should and does irritate any half-brained american as well. I for one find this rulling quite irritating and have never left the united states in my life.

Re:Other sites under the gun... (1)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 13 years ago | (#426907)

I'm all with the idea, but, in all fairness, "pathy" implies a pathological condition, not a field of study. "Ridiculology" would be a good term for the study of the ridiculous. "Ridiculography" would be a term for the study of the physical bounds of the ridiculous. But "Ridiculopathy" would refer to a condition in which one uncontrollably, or by nature, ridicules things, or a condition in which one irreversibly devolves into a ridiculous state (i.e., Czar Rudy Giuliani may suffer from ridiculopathy under the second definition). Not that the "radiculo" camp has a legal leg to stand on in asking you to C&D use of your invented word, but they do at least have a point, buried somewhere in those latin roots.

Re:The real bullshit... (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 13 years ago | (#426908)

Not only that, but after eReferee changed its name to officiating.com, Referee magazine wants an injuction against them to prevent them from operating. What a bunch of assholes.

Well, it sounds like they're still redirecting from ereferee.com to officiating.com, so they're still using the name. Although I do think the court ruling was over-the-top, technically eReferee still seems to be violating it.

Re:Value of name (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 13 years ago | (#426909)

Not to mention refree.com, for those bad spelling internet users.

Re:Ok, this is offtopic but I can't take it anymor (1)

JCMay (158033) | more than 13 years ago | (#426910)

Actually, "America" is not a continent. There's two-- North America and South America, and taken together they're the "Americas." "America" is used, however, as an abbreviated name for The United States of America, even though we all admit numerous other soveriegn countries on the Americas.

There's still no "USia," however. If you had said "USoA," fine-- United States of America. There is no place called "USia," however.

And no, you didn't say "boxen." I was just getting all the ire out a once. I'm glad that you agree that "boxen" looks uneducated. I made the (wrong) generalization that (one that would say "USia")==(one that would say "boxen") since both sound uneducated.

Re:What about Windows(tm) (2)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 13 years ago | (#426911)

In relation to computer operating systems, yes they do. "Referee" own their trademark in relation to publications, which includes news and opinion websites like eReferee.

Re:Here we go again (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 13 years ago | (#426912)

It makes sense that such a provision would exist in an anti-trust act. If I was, say, Microsoft (since we've gone almost 10 minutes without some Microsoft bashing), I could use my money and power to fabricate in the media an imagined atrocity or other bad thing by my competitor. Netscape is testing animated gifs on kittens or something.

I, as a moral, upstanding company, could not stand idly by as these kittens continue to be subjected to spinning peace signs (or so I'd say in my press release), so I'd urge all of America to boycott Netscape. Look, I'd say in the fourth...no, fifth paragraph: this isn't about competition, or the fact that people will have to get their browsers from me if they boycott Netscape. This is about saving Kittens, dammit! No, scratch that: I wouldn't curse, but I'd sure include a JPEG of Big Eyed Sally petting her darling short-hair tabby.

IANAL either, but I'm thinking Ian is right: if there wasn't some sort of law against this, we'd be seeing companies calling for boycotts of their competitors all the time.

Re:geez (1)

Zenjive (247697) | more than 13 years ago | (#426913)

No, actually people have been pretty stoopid for centuries, nay, millenia. The problem here is that the really rich, stupid ones have lawyers to back up their idiotic agendas.

Re:Seems fair enough (2)

rw2 (17419) | more than 13 years ago | (#426914)

They also list about 40 other domain names

I guess the good news is they just saved themselves over a grand a year in renewals... :-)

Name ownership aside, which I do in fact understand, I think people are getting a little too excited about this stuff. It isn't like referee in the name is going to make a lick of difference. Want proof. Look at some of the largest traffic sites in their respective fields, slashdot, yahoo, amazon. WTF do any of those have to do with what the site does?

The referee mag people should get over it, but so should rightsports. These battles don't matter. To paraphrase Cosmo, "It's all about the content"

--

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?