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Dealing with domain squatters on a budget
April 2, 2008 3:33 AM   Subscribe

What can a free online game do about a domain squatting / potential IP infringement situation, that doesn't involve commercial legal advice?

(Asking for a friend). Background: a free online game, in existence for over 5 years and run as a hobby, although with a microscopically small commercial element (a tiny subset of players pay for premium membership with small in-game benefits - the revenue pays for little more than server costs).

The game's name is NOT the same as the domain it was hosted on (it is only slightly different). The domain of the same name was formerly owned by some odd chinese-language site, which has recently been acquired by a third party. The third party has developed a similar web-based game to that owned by my friend, and - crucially - named it exactly the same as my friend's game (ie both games now have the same name, but are hosted on different domains). The domain owner has offered to sell the domain to my friend for an unacceptably high fee - my friend counter-offered (d'oh), but no agreement has been reached.

The question: can anyone give an outline appraisal of possible (free) legal routes that my friend can take in this matter? Does it sound like there is a case to object to the domain ownership on the grounds of domain squatting? Is there a trademark or other copyright infringement that could be pursued somehow without legal representation? The co-owners are in the US and UK, don't know about the location of the third party.

I know that you're not lawyers, all advice can be considered as having been offered without prejudice.
posted by bifter to Computers & Internet (2 answers total)
 
There are services for domain dispute resolution that I do not believe require an attorney: http://www.icann.org/udrp/udrp.htm
posted by norabarnacl3 at 5:54 AM on April 2, 2008


UDRP requires that you hold a trademark, and is rather costly, both of which seem to be stumbling blocks in this situation. Moreover, even if money isn't an issue and there is a trademark held, you'd still want to lawyer up to file the complaint. UDRP arbitration is a fickle, fickle process.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:56 AM on April 2, 2008


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