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Chris Bosh: Internet Police

chris boshOn September 24th Chris Bosh was awarded not only his own domain, chrisbosh.com, but the domain names of over 800 NBA stars, college and high school athletes as well as various celebrities. It was a landmark decision in that it was one of the first instances in which a plaintiff was awarded third party domain names in addition to his own, in a case of this nature.

Bosh, who is known to be an avid user of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and has operated his own YouTube channel since 2007, was looking to expand his web presence with his own site. He then learned that someone had beaten him to the punch and had already registered his name, chrisbosh.com. He settled for chris-bosh.com, but chose to pursue legal action to retrieve his domain.

Bosh’s legal counsel, Winston & Strawn LLP, was able to track down the owner of chrisbosh.com, Luis Zavala. Zavala’s company, Hoopology.com was displaying ads using Bosh’s name to generate revenue without Bosh’s knowledge or consent. Zavala also had registered over 800 domain names of NBA players as well as international, college and high school athletes, with the intention of selling them back to the athletes at a premium, a practice known as “cybersquatting.” It was determined that Zavala was in violation of the Federal Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, and as a result of Zavala failing to show in court, Judge Florence-Marie Cooper awarded Bosh the rights to chrisbosh.com as well as $120,000 in damages. As a means to recover some of the damages, Bosh was also awarded all of the domain names registered to Zavala.

Bosh is offering to return all the domain names to their rightful owners, free of charge, through his web media firm: Max Deal Technologies. Max Deal is a web design, marketing and consulting company that “offers web design and technology consulting to clients who demand to stay current with the fast paced world of online communication.”

Ever the entrepreneur, Bosh stated, “I am thrilled that I am able to offer the return of these domain names to a host of other athletes and celebrities whose names were cybersquatted. I will offer the return of the domain names free of charge, but I’d also love the opportunity to show their owners how Max Deal can help.”

Not only does Chris Bosh retrieve your domain name from individuals looking to illegally profit from it, but he returns it to you free of charge and then offers you advice on what to do with your newly rescued domain. However, we have to assume that Max Deal’s advice will not be free of charge.

You can view a list of all 800+ domain names turned over to Chris Bosh here.

12 replies on “Chris Bosh: Internet Police”

If it had been stolen bank accounts, instead of domains, would the judge have trusted Bosh (or anyone) to return them?

It’s seems weird to me that the judge awarded all the domain names to Bosh (if you look at the list, a few have nothing to do with sports).

Even though Bosh’s stated intent is to give the names back to the rightful owners — how could the judge know that for sure?

The fact that the domains are registered to anyone besides the athletes still makes it potentially squatting. Isn’t using this list of domains to help advertise professional services a kind of squatting?

In any case, Bosh did well to get his domain back — and he’s helping others. So the result seems good.

Can’t argue with the result, since Bosh is going to help out all of the other athletes who were victims of the cybersquatting, but I also found it extremely odd that the judge would put that much power into Bosh’s hands. What makes him the guardian of all these domains? If he chose to do so, Bosh could squat on the names, or make a business venture out of his new power…oh wait, the second part seems to be somewhat true.

Not to mention that the whole story would be turned to completely destroy Bosh’s image. My concern isn’t about the players getting the rights to their domain names, it is that with this new power designated to Bosh, he can use his position to help out his other businesses that have absolutely nothing to do with the lawsuit. The ruling is too broad for my liking.

I take issue with the decision as a whole. I like to think of the companies venture as genius – I mean, afterall, we are a capitalist society and buying a domain name with the rights to sell it seems perfectly fine. Afterall, i own many domain names. I think that there can be clever marketing opportunities by buying domain names of other players, of which could help generate business (I wont divulge much more of this here). I take issue with that fact. In todays world, parents and others should take control fo their right to the opportunity to purchase these domains for future use – afterall, what if your name was chris bosh and you purchased that name – Bosh 1 is a plumber Bosh 2 is a star NBA player…Bosh 1 profits from selling NBA material because of the site – who wins? O- the attorneys – my bad! Bad decision!

I think that if your name was Chris Bosh and you purchased that name, you would be fine. I cannot see a court taking that domain name from you just because there is another Chris Bosh who is a public figure and much more popular that you are. If that was the case here and the owner had the same name as one of the domains, I don’t think he would have had to give that particular one back.

You raise some great points, and I am torn on the situation, myself. Should the government really get involved in this type of matter? Do public figures have the rights to their names in a url? Is it a part of their persona?

Darren,

If you read my post again, you will see that my example goes beyond just having the same name – I mentioned that Bosh 1 makes money on his site from selling apparel – which to me seemed to be the point of the decision – he was using the site, in your original article, and was making money selling Bosh materials –

I do agree that I do not feel that URLs should be IP if it is a non-trademarked name and furthermore belive that the whole term (ie. http://www.whateverdomain.com/.net/.org) should need to be trademarked – maybe someone could keep anothers name as domain if this happens – not an IP lawyer but I will look into it and repost

I appreciate your site and we should talk sometime –

Jason

I think the heart of the issue here is whether or not a domain name is protected as part of an athlete’s name and likeness. We have seen athletes pursue legal action when their likeness was used in video games without their consent, does the same idea apply to a url?

What I found to be maybe even more interesting in this case, which is what Darren was originally getting at I believe, is why Bosh would be entrusted with the other names in addition to his when it clearly it is the intention of his organization to profit, albeit indirectly, off of the other domain names. Hadi Teherany is the co-founder of Bosh’s internet marketing company Max Deal Technologies and has been handed a list of over 800 potential clients. Being that the whole purpose of this case was to prevent profiting off of someone else’s name, it seems a bit hypocritical.

Here is what I think: The article said that the company was profiting from the site by, i believe, selling chris bosh the player items. He was awarded an award of XXX,XXX amount of dollars. As compensation, he was given their other properties, that so happenned to be other doamin names. I am not sure you cannot own the domain names as long as you do not use someone elses identity to profit from such – I think that is the reasoning – Chris, knowing he cannot profit from the sites, decides to give them to the owner (the persons whose domain they relate to) and is offering a service – to them – which, they are likely to use, which means he gets to rpofit legally from these web properties with his service company – that was what I believe happenned…just my thoughts

J

I would think that the service company has the potential to make a killing based on the power it was granted. Way more than the expected value of just having his own domain name. I just can’t comprehend why a judge would grant a player property that has no relation to his persona.

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