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2004-08-19 16:14:37

Bahamian Cybersquatter Targets Big Corporations

Cybesquatters buy domain names identical or similar to names and trademarks of companies and celebrities in hopes of misdirecting visitors to their own sites or reselling them at exorbitant prices.

On the web the domain name is everything. Without it there is no business, no web as it is known today.

In its early days cybersquatters registered well known and popular names, which became theirs and could only be used by the original owner if prepared to pay. In some cases, corporations forked over millions to reclaim their name.

Companies have been fighting back especially against Henry Chan, a person listed in documents as living in The Bahamas.

According to World Intellectual Property Organization(WIPO), which arbitrates disputes about ownership of domain names, Mr. Chan is a “known cybersquatter from The Bahamas.'

As evidence of its accusation the WIPO listed the following cases in which Mr. Chan was named as the respondent. Mr. Chan declined in all cases from responding to the accusations.

Royal bank of Canada v. Henry Chan, WIPO Case No. D2003?0031; Federated Western Properties, Inc. v. Henry Chan, WIPO Case No. D2003?0472; Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu v. Henry Chan, WIPO Case No. D2003?0584; Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Inc. v. Henry Chan, WIPO Case No. D2003?0611; LTD Commodities LLC v. Henry Chan, NAF Case No. FA0303000152617; Pioneer Hi?Bred International Inc. v. Henry Chan, NAF Case No. FA0304000154119; Bedford Fair Apparel, Inc. v. Henry Chan, Claim No. FA0303000157322; Reed Elsevier Inc. and Reed Elsevier Properties Inc. v. Henry Chan, Claim No. FA0306000161468; American Stores Company v. Henry Chan, Claim No. FA0306000161567; Yahoo! Inc., GeoCities, HotjOBS.COM Ltd., and Launch, Claim No. FA0306000162050; Media, Inc. v. Henry Chan; Rock Financial, A Quicken Loans Company v. Henry Chan, Claim No. FA0307000167917

The Sports Authority Michigan Inc. v. Henry Chan, Claim No. FA0308000176552

Popular, Inc. v. Henry Chan, Claim No. FA0308000183739.

In the latest case against Mr. Chan he was accused of using the call name of radio station khon.com listing his domain as khon2.com.

According to wire service report cybesquatters buy web domain names identical to or similar to the names and trademarks of companies and celebrities in the hopes of misdirecting visitors to their own sites or reselling the names at exorbitant prices.

The Chan case indicates that as e-commerce gains traction in The Bahamas, companies will have to be vigilant in ensuring that their good name is not being abused by cybersquatters.

The other problem, which was highlighted by the Chan case, is the level of cooperation the WIPO receives from the registrar – the company though which the domain was registered.

In Mr. Chan's the most recent case although the owners of the name won particularly because Mr. Chan did not enter a defense, it was noted that winning at the WIPO is no guarantee that the name will be transferred, especially if the registrar refuses to cooperate with the WIPO.

So although the WIPO declared Mr. Chan in default and ordered that khon2.com be transferred to Emmis Communications owners of the khon radio station, there is no guarantee that Mr. Chan cannot continue to use the khon2.com site.

C. E. Huggins, The Bahama Journal

 
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