BlogaBarbara

Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

On redirects, domain names and brand ownership

Got this message from a reader today...

Sara. Just FYI, the santabarbara blog poached www.blogabarbara.com from you. I think this sucks because you work hard and do a great job. Don't want to see anyone stealing your thunder.

Unfortunately, the person who runs Santa Barbara's Blog bought the BlogaBarbara domain name before I did and has every legal right to it. BlogaBarbara has been around quite a bit longer -- and it is my fault for not getting the domain right away. Just so everyone knows, I was in communication with the domain name owner in question awhile ago but my efforts to perhaps get traffic redirected here did not come to fruition. At the time, I did not know they were involved with Santa Barbara's Blog and they did not volunteer that information. The truth is it might have even been someone else. I'm not even sure SB's Blog was in existence at that point. Soon after our correspondence with each other, the ownership information was made private and is now directed through some holding company in Portugal.

I also did not know that traffic to www.blogabarbara.com is now redirected to their site. It's probably been going on for awhile as I stopped paying attention to "the blog" some time ago.

Yes, it hurts a little and is a bit misleading in my opinion -- but such is life. I hope they are getting their money's worth! Thanks to the kind reader for the nice words...

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Liam said...

Actually Sara I think you are mistaken and may have the right to that domain name.

"the person who runs Santa Barbara's Blog bought the BlogaBarbara domain name before I did and has every legal right to it." - Although they may have paid the registration fees, they likely do not have a legal right to it.

"BlogaBarbara has been around quite a bit longer" - This is a key point!

By using the name BlogaBarbara for some time, that would be considered a service mark. (This does not need to be formerly registered to qualify - simply used to uniquely identify the source of a service.) Those who own blogabarbara.com are cybersquatting ("registering a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else").

ICANN is the body that oversees IANA and is responsible for the assignment of domain names. You may file a UDRP complaint (Uniform Domain-name Resolution Policy). ICANN may then award you the domain following an investigation.

(You are also able to complain to a court, possibly under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, if you prefer.)

The interesting part about this is that because they are redirecting to the SB blog, bad faith is clearly shown. Sometimes, similar or identical trade marks are allowed if the second individual is operating in an unrelated field or in different geographic markets. However, their use is in the same field (online local news blog) and in the same geographic region (Santa Barbara). Potentially, if SantaBarbarasBlog was involved, because they are based in the US, under the US Anticybersquatting Act, they could be held liable for damages in the amount of a maximum of $100,000. Which is pretty hilarious.

Their forwarding of the domain to a competitor in the same field was a major mistake and adds to your case.

Check out the articles on service mark infringement and cybersquatting.

Good luck Sara!

9/03/2008 2:01 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Interesting...thanks so much for the info.

What makes this interesting too is the desire of both parties for anonymity. I've always assumed that to buy the domain I'd have had to get some kind of offshore account to maintain it.

The domain owner in question had gone to some lengths to protect theirs but I am uncomfortable with even that level of transparency given the means of some to investigate such information.

Thanks again -- interesting discussion!

9/03/2008 5:11 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Moreno said...

I've always thought there was something scuzzy about SantaBarbarasBlog -- the sucking up to Dr. Laura was just the beginning -- and this confirms my suspicions. Cybersquatting on blogabarbara.com and redirecting it to Bird's insipid site is just sleazy and dishonest.

I hope you'll take Liam's posting to heart.

9/03/2008 8:40 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Hey Sara, I got this response from the editor of that site,

“Dear Cindy,

Thank you for your feedback. In the last year, a number of local URLs including venturasblog, montecitosblog, goletasblog, blogabarbara, etc., have been purchased and redirected to Santa Barbara’s Blog. The URL in question was apparently offered to the blogspot owner; but, for whatever reason, he/she didn’t want to purchase it or pay for the transfer rights (according to the seller who was shopping it around). For the nominal cost, and with a level of stewardship, it made sense to have in the collection. Now, does it need to be actively redirected like the rest of the other URLs? Probably not, and your points are well taken. The purchasing of local URLs isn't intended to be malevolent and everyone in the community should be thankful for their great service. Thanks again for your feedback and keep blogging.”

9/03/2008 10:59 AM  
Blogger sbstew805 said...

Sarah, have you ever thought about writing for Santa Barbara's Blog? There seems to be a helluva lot more people blogging over there, and the posts have dropped off a bit here. That might be a great partnership, especially on the weekend. I always thought that the Daily Sound should have hired the NP reporters way back when.

9/03/2008 6:10 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Thanks Cindy -- of course the response is perhaps overly kind but no sums were discussed and I, of course, am in the position of being unable to pay without giving away my identity. I don't blame whomever it was that made the business decision as they know full well I could do little about it...it was very smart of them.

sbstew -- we have very different styles and audience and I am not clear that would work! Readership hasn't actually dropped off -- comments have since I required a name be associated with the post though. Not too much of a surprise there.

I wish SB Blog the best but I'm not sure they are the best stewards of the BlogaBarbara name...

9/03/2008 7:56 PM  
Anonymous Eat the Rich said...

Sara,

There are services that will allow you to purchase a domain name under a proxy so that you can retain your anonymity. I've never used any of these services, so I have no idea of the cost. And this is, by no means, an endorsement.

The main one is DomainsByProxy.com, which is a subsidiary of GoDaddy.com. There is some controversy over just how private is your registration information, however, so keep that in mind. EFF is involved in some of this as well.

Just providing the info.

9/03/2008 8:30 PM  
Anonymous Cheap Domain Names said...

I think anyone has the right to purchase any domain name but if the business name is trademarked you cant use the name. Correct me if I'm wrong.

9/04/2008 3:05 PM  

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