The National Arbitration Forum (NAF) has given Google ownership of more than 750 domains that used its trademark name, often in conjunction with other well-known trademarks and/or celebrity names.
In one of its legal filings, Google called it “one of the most aggressive campaigns of domain name infringement that [Google] has encountered.”
The domains were registered by Chris Gillespie between February 29 and March 10, 2012. They include domains like googlechevron.com, googlecoors.com, googledonaldtrump.com and googlegaycruises.com.
For a time, according to Google’s complaint, Gillespie redirected at least some of the domains to a “family of soon-to-be-launched gay interest websites, none of which have any association with Google or the other brands, individuals, or products that are included in Respondent’s domain names.”
In his defense, Gillespie argued that he setup the redirects only to monitor traffic to the domains. He told the NAF that he registered the domains as part of a plan to develop “affinity-based social networks that will allow users to interact with each other and obtain content, products, and services related to their affinity-community’s respective interests.”
Gillespie also argued that Google isn’t protected by trademark law because “google” has become a generic verb that’s synonymous with searching the web. In fact, during the course of this domain name case, Gillespie filed a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to have Google’s trademarks canceled (see it here).
Ultimately, the NAF determined that Gillespie’s registration of the 750+ domains met the three requirements to be called cybersquatting:
(1) the domain name registered by Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which Complainant has rights; and
(2) Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name; and
(3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Even if Gillespie somehow gets Google’s trademark canceled in the U.S. on its own company name, the NAF also ruled that Google still owns enough trademark registrations around the world to establish rights to the domain names.
(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)