Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wargames.com Domain Dispute

This isn't Google related, but I thought it was a neat story from Techdirt.

Rogers Cadenhead, the owner of Wargames.com since 1998, has been approached by a lawyer from MGM claiming that his domain name infringes on the trademark to the 1983 classic WarGames. It's a classic example of domain dispute over a trademarked term. The problem with cases like these is that they get decided by arbitration, where precedent doesn't mean a whole lot. What's nice though is that Mr. Cadenhead is going to blog about the affair, so people will be better informed as to how this process plays out. As for his odds of winning, that he uses the site to literally sell games about war makes it a really tough call because the movie was also about a game about war, and it's conceivable that a reasonable person could be confused. And with domain names, the issue of initial interest confusion (ie. typing in wargames.com into the address bar hoping to find the movie) is always an issue.

Why would MGM make a bother about this at all given that the movie is 23 years old? I'm betting there's a sequel in the works, which makes this also a preemptive strike by MGM.

As an aside, I wish there was a way to know how many people still blindly type domains into the address bar, rather than go to Google or use a search box that most browsers have these days. If only a small minority still make random guesses as to what the site they're looking for is, maybe they are being unreasonable, and thus, initial interest confusion wouldn't be such a problem in a domain dispute since it's predicated on people being reasonable.

Anyway, good luck Rogers!
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