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Bad Call For Referee Dispute 162

Posted by michael
from the no-instant-replay dept.
mcwop writes: "What can be said? One can only hope that this case gets appealed and eReferee wins. People assume that you are safe if a site, which has its name registered first, is in operation. Not only does this decision squash that notion, the name in dispute is not exactly the same. Referee magazine compared to eReferee.com. When will common sense prevail?" Here's the arbitration decision - I don't know of a copy of the court ruling. In many cases, individuals have been the victim of poor decisions rendered by ICANN arbitration panels. This is a case where the arbitration panel appears to have made the right decision, but a Federal judge stepped in and reversed it. Update: 02/16 03:15 PM by J : A quick comment on the nature of arbitration...

I'm frankly surprised we haven't seen more of these cases, and I'll expect to see more in the future. Because arbitration under the UDRP is not binding in the U.S. court system, or any court system that I know of, the loser can always sue the winner. And, in any case of any importance, will.

If GM and Ford have a disagreement about a domain name, do you think the results of an arbitration ruling mean jack to them? Will they meekly accept the results of some international panel and go home?

No, of course not. The loser will file the court case the same day. To them, an arbitration decision means nothing except maybe a rhetorical point for their lawyer to bring up.

Large corporations can never lose an arbitration, they can only win it. It's individuals and small corporations, who don't have the resources for an extended court battle, who stand to lose under the UDRP.

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Bad Call for Referee Dispute

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  • Face it, when you give a limited number of people a choice, you'll get off results. It's like flipping a penny twice: odds are just as well that you'll get 2 heads or 2 tails as they are that you'll get 1 head and 1 tail. What do you do to fix that? You flip the coin many times!

    I suggest that we post disputes to a special section on /. and let users figure it out...

    The problem with capped Karma is it only goes down...

  • by divert (188449)
    This is the most ridiculous ruling i've heard in a domain name case.. then they want to sue them if they loose money over a boycott also.. are people just getting dumber or what?????
  • Let's spin the old discussion from a few days/weeks/months ago again. I remember when etoy sued eToys, all of this nonsense suddenly became good and just for a split second. Then SSH threatened legal action against OpenSSH; once again the process is evil. Now this. When will common sense prevail? That's not a question for slashdot to answer, that's for sure. This is a ridiculous action, just like eToys vs. etoy, etoy vs. eToys, SSH vs. OpenSSH (at least they're civil about it) and the whole lot of them. I will say this, though..

    Threatening to sue a company because their actions against said company caused a consumer boycott; that's the laugh of the day. Has anyone ever heard of this type of legal action before? "These guys forced us to be petty and mean, which caused people not to like us, which caused them not to buy our magazine." Wah!
  • This would be a more tricky case than it seems if the judge hadn't gone way overboard on his decision, past even what Referee's lawyers wanted. I mean, it basically gives Referee the rights over the use of that word, even in the path. This is (obviouly) wrong.

    But their original point does stand. Having two sites Referee.com and eReferee.com is confusing, especially when it comes to things like search engines and so on. There needs to be a way to ensure sites are easily distinguishable so that things like this aren't necessary.

    Unfortunately ICANN isn't going to be doing anything about it. They're far too deeply in the pockets of corporate USia, and they are quite happy to let big corporations take anyone to court wherever there's even the slightest hint they might win.

  • How about I go and register a domain name using only vowels for the name. Would that give me the right to have every site using vowels to be taken down? I guess that may be going a little extream but (at least I think) it has the same concept behind it. Any comments?
  • Oh man.. You know, I might not be fond of our current system.. But I sure hope you aren't suggesting (even in jest) that slashdot should be arbiters in any sort of legal case whatsoever. That's gotta be just about the absolute worst idea in the history of global law. The inquisition, the salem witch trials, none of it matches up to what a slashdot with legal authority would be.

    *shudder*
  • by Yoshi Have Big Tail (312184) on Friday February 16, 2001 @05:16AM (#426821)
    I have studied intellectual property law, and there is protection for this.

    It's called passing off - where a product or company is confusingly similar to another company, such that consumers might be misled, the tort of passing off is committed.

    In this case, there is certainly such a risk of confusion - many companies simply prepend e to their names to form their electronic division - and so ereferee would seem to be referee's electronic division.

    It is not, as is claimed a ban on the use of the word. This is a very restrictive action in law, designed to protect the goodwill of companies trading from ripoff merchants.

    If this happened in the physical world, there would be no complaint, so why should the internet be any difference?

    It's just the natural evolution of the internet - as it comes under the same regulation as the rest of human endeavor, companies will be protected at last.

    I really can't see any problem here.
  • I am going to set up a company called Domain Name Trademarkers Inc. whose only business plan is to trademark the names of popular websites and force them to either cough up lots of money or hand over the "stolen" site.

    What a wonderful world we live in! Predatory capitalism in it's finest form. Hitler and Adam Smith would be proud!

  • well.. with all due respect for the ridiculousness of this suit, I'd have to say that there's a little more similarity between referee.com and ereferee.com than aeiou.com and slashdot.org.
  • OK, now I see that the CNET article says that eReferee lost. But, the arbitration decision seems to contradict this.

    Ah, I see now, the arbitrator's ruling was part of the ICANN dispute resolution process. Referee Magazine didn't like the result, went to Federal Court and won. And, since the ICANN process is non-binding, eReferee really lost.

    Guys, if I understand this correctly, the Slashdot story really doesn't reflect what happened.
    --

    Dave Aiello

  • At the Arbitration level, eReferee did win. But then the Court overturned that ruling (at least temporarily) with a restraining order. At this point in time, eReferee is the loser.

    You can read more about it here... http://www.officiating.com/index.cgi?page=letter2

    Later,
    Rob
  • uhm the point is they won the arbitration decision but subsequently lost a court challenge. It's a sign of a system gone mad when common english words can be challenged. It equally reflects a lack of common sense in the justice system when it makes such interpretations. Time for a rethink...
  • Why was this moderated to 3: Insightful? He didn't even read the article or the headline blurb.
    The arbitrator found in favor of eReferee.com. That's ICANN's board. Then, a US Federal court reversed the order, saying eReferee.com can't use the trademark "referee" *anywhere* in the address, not even in the path.
  • I guess that means Time(tm) magazine can go after any website with Time in the title.

    Not like there are any news sites like that out there.

  • Is it just my perception or are nonsensical judgements like this only being issued in the US? Are similar decisions being handed down in other jurisdictions or is this just the result of electing judges rather than appointing them on the basis of their expertise?
  • Yes, eReferee won the arbitration but then lost the subsequent lawsuit. They were two different preceedings.
  • First of all I do NOT agree with the Judge in this case. eReferee should be allowed to use its domain name. If Referee Magazine had a problem with it, they can and did challange it, they lost so what do they do, they Sue!!! I mean companies will continue to sue anything and everyone until they get their way, they have the money for it.

    Lately it looks as though whoever is more famous (read : money) will win court cases because of the enourmous cost of a court battle. This is completely wrong.

    Second The judge had NO right to prevent eReferee from using the word "referee" in their website. Is that not Censorship! I guess the freedom of speech and expression do not matter in this case. So if I make a site that a big company doesnt like IBM (International Business Machines) they can sue and I then CANNOT use the words INTERNATIONAL, BUSINESS, or MACHINES!!! How stupid does that sound. Maybe IBM should start suing people that use the word business or international, they have the money for it!

    This case just goes so show that a lot of people dont know crap about the net ( read : Presiding Judge) and will make bad descicions because lawyers are good at what they do ( read : Bullshit ).

    Lord Arathres
  • Yes, eReferee lost. If you had read the article [cnet.com], you'd have noticed that the arbitrator's decision was overturned.
  • by crovira (10242) on Friday February 16, 2001 @05:23AM (#426833) Homepage
    The problem stems from the use of words to name things. Referee, eReferee, iReferee, eReferee, iReferee, oReferee.

    Naming things is a HARD and expensive problem (see: Coca-Cola Co. & "Ttab," shortened to "Tab.")

    However its made almost impossible by lawyers who, lacking common sense and speaking in gibberish, (did you know that the legal definition of "better" is "as good as"?) utterly throw the notion of language as a consually derived means of communication into a cocked hat and have turned it into a revenue producing source of obfustation.

    That's why Prince went with TAFKSP and that logo as symbolically representing him. The lawyers couldn't get a handle on it.

    That's also why the Canadian government gives all Amerindians band and individual numbers. Their names change according to the lives they have lived and what one may call him or her self may not be what others call him or her.
  • If you read the article, you'd see that eReferee won the ICANN arbitration, but then Referee(tm) took the matter to some federal court and won there.

    IMHO it's time to get businesses like this (Referee, not eReferee) off the internet. Maybe ICANN should have the right to suspend or withdraw domain names for companies who bring the internet into dispute.

    Oh, and ;-) ... well, maybe.
    --

  • Remember the judge in France who decided that Yahoo had to determine if a visitor was French, and prevent them from seeing auctions involving Nazi memorabilia?
  • by Roofus (15591) on Friday February 16, 2001 @05:25AM (#426836) Homepage

    But their original point does stand. Having two sites Referee.com and eReferee.com is confusing, especially when it comes to things like search engines and so on

    Do you ever confuse www.bay.com and www.ebay.com?
  • by horza (87255) on Friday February 16, 2001 @05:25AM (#426837) Homepage
    Does anyone else find it ironic that eReferee sounds a pretty good name for an online arbitration site?

    Phillip.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's like flipping a penny twice: odds are just as well that you'll get 2 heads or 2 tails as they are that you'll get 1 head and 1 tail.

    Spoken like a true academic.
  • I apologize, but, I read the arbitrator's decision first. At the time I posted my first comment on the Slashdot article, I didn't realize that the the CNET article reported that the Federal judge contradicted the arbitrator.
    --

    Dave Aiello

  • by tenzig_112 (213387) on Friday February 16, 2001 @05:26AM (#426840) Homepage
    People who prefer to misspell a particular form of lumbardial back injury are suing us over the name "ridiculopathy.com."

    It's a made-up word. We haven't had a chance to tell them that. They believe that rAdiculopathy is so common a misspelling that we have no right to do business under our proper name.

    Our only hope is to get the word ridiculopathy entered into Websters next edition.

    Ridiculopathy
    n : 1. A phenomenon brought about by ridiculous circumstances; 2. A field of science studying ridiculous phenomena. Ridiculopath a practitioner of the science of Ridiculopathy.

    Help us convince Merriam-Webster [ridiculopathy.com]

  • The problem is that the domain name space isn't divided into classes. Several companies can hold the same trademark for different classes.

    For example Apple Records holds the trademark for Apple in the music biz and Apple Computers holds the trademark for computers. Can The Beatles sue Apple computer for Apple.com because their label trademarked Apple before the computer company did?

    Ajax is a footbal club, a cleaning liquid and a brand of fire extinguishers. So who has the rights to ajax.com? Is it the most monied trademark holder or the oldest one?

  • Reading the arbitration, it appears that ereferee did win! It says that the complaintant must prove these conditions:

    1. The domain names registered by the Respondent are identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights;

    2. The Respondent has no legitimate interest in respect of the domain name; and
    3. The domain names have been registered and used in bad faith.


    And then in the end it says:

    15) Under the circumstances, and on balance, I find for the Respondent as to the three Domain names and deny the Petition.


    This means that they AREN'T going to change the domain ownership just because this guy has trademarked "Referee".
  • I realise this is shutting the door after the horse has bolted, but I think that if we were redoing domain name allocation, "We wouldn't start from here!", to use a famous phrase.

    I think that a complete reallocation system, with the following features would be a Good Thing (TM).

    Each country has a TLD. Only a resident/ company of that country may register in that TLD. [Stops the silly .tv (Tuvalu) situation]

    Under each country is a special limited set of second level domains reserved for:
    trademarks
    company names
    other areas where a unique name is important [authors, pop groups].
    Disputes for the above domains are settled in the courts of the TLD country.

    All other domain names are allocated on a first come first served basis. Trademark and naming disputes are avoided by specifically stating that all other domains have nothing in common with registered companies or trademarks.

    Any web site may only have one domain name. (incidentally, this rule limits domain name camping).

    International TLDs exist for organisations, but to qualify for such a domain, membership in over 30 countries must be demonstrated.

    Suggestions....
  • ...with this is that Referee magazine is considering a lawsuit for lost business because of the boycotts and subscription cancellations by angry eReferee members. WTF?

    Not only that, but after eReferee changed its name to officiating.com, Referee magazine wants an injuction against them to prevent them from operating. What a bunch of assholes.

  • This is also covered by law.

    There has to be a risk of confusion. For example, MacDonalds construction and McDonalds burgers have no risk of confusion.

    Basically if you are in widely different industries, it's ok. In this case, however, both products are magazines, so confusion is likely.
  • by Nidhogg (161640) <shr,thanatos&gmail,com> on Friday February 16, 2001 @05:39AM (#426846) Journal
    Is it me or did this judge just pull all of ICANN's teeth with a crowbar?

    What do we have here. ICANN came to a decision in arbitration in favor of the Respondent Planet Ref Inc. Referee Enterprises Inc. didn't like the outcome of arbitration so they went whining to a judge who overturned ICANN's decision.

    So what kind of precedence does this set? This, in effect, tells anyone who doesn't like ICANN's decisions regarding domain disputes to go ahead and take it to court anyway.

    I thought one of the purposes of ICANN was to keep this kind of stuff out of the courts.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...it was eNike or something, but eReferee!???

    Does that mean that these guys [bay.com] can sue these guys [ebay.com] ? AFAIK, this is the same issue, sticking an 'e' on the front. ;)

    Grief! If we'd done the same with other industry prefixes like inter-, micro- or tele- we'd be stuffed. Now we get sued over 'e', 'i' and that stupid '@' symbol...

    Actually, Nike was the Greek goddess of victory; where are her lawyers then? Defamation of character "Sirs, I believe my name is being tainted by being associated by a company that makes shoes...". It all comes down to how big your comapny is nowadays, doesn't it? Corporateness sucks!

  • Ajax is a footbal club, a cleaning liquid and a brand of fire extinguishers. So who has the rights to ajax.com? Is it the most monied trademark holder or the oldest one?

    The one who got there first. However, if one of the other Ajaxes go to this judge, then they will likely be able to wrest the domain from the legitimate owner...

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • The Arbitration was not the same as the Trademark Ruling. Two different Judges.
  • ...the part where the ruling indicates the company may not use the term referee in the directory structure.

    What if a different company wants to sale referee uniforms and had the term referee in the path name. With this ruling the owners of "Referee" could go after them.

    In this situation it is not a "tort of passing off".

  • All other domain names are allocated on a first come first served basis. Trademark and naming disputes are avoided by specifically stating that all other domains have nothing in common with registered companies or trademarks.

    Well we do have a similar set-up to this in the UK. Except that it doesn't work. We have .ltd.uk and plc.uk that can only be registered by companies who trade under the name (a limited or public company) that they register. We then have the .co.uk which is a free for all. It seems though that no one is interested in the ltd.uk and the plc.uk which is why you don't see them around.

    Also, many countries do in fact require that you have an address in their country before registering one of their domains. And it would be much better if all the countries did that. Then the Cocos Islands wouldn't have so many thousand domains registered for their 700 citizens.

  • This sort of stupid arrogance makes everyone outside the United States of America extremely irritated. Wisconsin does not have jurisdiction over the Internet. The United States of America does not have jurisdiction over the Internet. All eReferee need do is move to Europe, Asia, or anywhere remotely sensible, and continue trading under their own domain name.
  • Yes I have actually....
  • One important difference between the physical world of commerce and the internet world of e-commerce is that in the physical world many businesses in different cities, states, and countries share the same business name or have names that are very similar. Most business owners do not do this to deceive customers, but instead choose names that sound appealing for their particular product or service -- and since many people find the same things appealing, there is repetition. In the physical world (except for large or multinational companies), this is not a problem because customers usually want to do business with nearby companies and are not even aware of competing businesses in far away locations, so there is no overlap. Since the internet changes the world from many different areas into just one location, this problem of "you stole my name" has developed. I think that the "first come, first served" approach for domain names is the best solution for this problem provided that the domain name is actually being used (and not just held for possible re-sale), and that it is not being used to deceive customers into thinking that the site really IS another company.
  • by hey! (33014) on Friday February 16, 2001 @05:53AM (#426855) Homepage Journal
    If this happened in the physical world, there would be no complaint, so why should the internet be any difference?

    Well, I can possibly see revoking the domain name, but the complete banning of the word "referee" from URLs is way over the top. The physical world equivalent is that you not only cannot use the word "Referee" in your magazine title, you can't use it in article titles or indices.

    It's perilously close to giving trademark holders absolute right to the use of a common word in their sphere of business.
  • like i said, using vowels would be a little extream, but think about specific words. Like trade marking the word "future". would that grant me the right to take down all sites with the word future in it?
  • How come I never have moderator points when I see a post like this. Hope this gets modded up to 5.
  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Friday February 16, 2001 @05:56AM (#426858)
    I don't agree, but you may have a point on the eReferee part. The problem, however, is that this lawsuit is applying to all domains with referee in the name. From the new eReferee (Officiating.com) web site:

    A preliminary injunction has been issued which prevents RightSports from using its eReferee.com domain name and logo. The injunction also prevents RightSports from developing websites using other domain names that it owns. In short, RightSports is prohibited from any domain containing the word "Referee."

    They also list about 40 other domain names that their partent company, RightSports, owns, that they are now forbidden to use, such as referee101.org, refereebooks.com, vollyballreferee.com, etc.

    Now please tell me you honestly believe that each and every one of these sites is, "likely to cause confusion or mistakes or to deceive the public" concerning Referee Magazine. It's a load of BS. And here we have main reason why domain name lawsuits like this are bad. Basically, because of some short-sighted judge, Referee Magazine now owns the word referee, at least as it pertains to the internet.

    Think this sort of thing would have been allowed to happen in the magazine publishing world? "Oh, gee, sorry, you can't publish any magazine with 'Referee' in the title in any form, we own that word." Or the television industry? "Nope, sorry, you can't create a TV show called The X-Files, The Rockford Files already owns the word 'Files'."

    It's one thing if a company is protecting a brand name in this manner, i.e. Coca Cola or Disney. But referee is a common, public domain word. Referee Magazine didn't invent the word, they don't have any more right to the word then anyone else.
  • Going to referee.com, they've announced an alliance with Sports Illustrated. Looks like it's time to let SI know that their corporate partner is being a crying spoiled brat on the Internet and generally making bad net.press for themselves, and that maybe they should think twice about being associated with them.

    ---
  • There are two things in this story that make this different than most other Domain Name stories:

    First, the silly trademark involved. I'm not a lawyer, but trademarking dictionary words seems weak to me, especially when the word is a description of the service they provide!
    For instance, everybody here agrees that Apple Computer has a legitimate trademark for Apple, even though it is a common word. But if Apple had just called itself "A Computer Company", would they have the trademark on "Computer", which "Computer Shopper" magazine would infringe on? I think not, although my (non-lawyerly) opinion is worthless. This case is similar. If Referee Magazine wanted to not be confused with every other Referee-oriented business, they should not have chosen a generic name!

    Second, the US Federal Courts just sang a long rendition of "You're Not The Boss Of Me Now" to ICANN, utterly rejecting their authority over domain names. If this stands, then who actually holds jurisdiction over domain names? I nominate Taco.

  • So let's all send a nice little email to:
    mdougherty@referee.com
    And let them know of our concern about this. If they threaten legal action against a boycott, for crying out loud, they are obviously out of touch with the real world.
    We just need to help them see the truth.


  • It is not, as is claimed a ban on the use of the word. This is a very restrictive action in law, designed to protect the goodwill of companies trading from ripoff merchants. If this happened in the physical world, there would be no complaint, so why should the internet be any difference? It's just the natural evolution of the internet - as it comes under the same regulation as the rest of human endeavor, companies will be protected at last. I really can't see any problem here.

    IANAL...BUT... I can see a significant problem here, in that it would seem the judge's ruling was way too broad. The magazine 'Referee' is a generic term, about/for 'referee's'. While there may be some confusion between their name and ereferee.com to require some consideration, it seems completely inappropriate to ban any use of the term 'referee' in their name, description, or index. An analogy would be to say that becuase someone like Computer World might have a trademake, that nobody else would ever be able to use the word 'Computer' in the name of a publication about computers. I can't believe this wouldn't be overturned in appeal. I can't believe the judge wouldn't be admonished, but then again, I don't expect that to happen. The only word I know that WOULD be precluded in a similar circumstance is 'Olympics', and THAT is only because of specific legislation dealing with that word only. I have a problem with the logo confict as well, but this judge seems so far off the mark that it wouldn't even be worth discussing. (But I believe the referee organzations themselves would have prior use of white stripes and whilstles.. and if they publish so much as a newsletter, they out to tell referee magazine to start paying the royalties.)

  • As I understand it, it is the term "best" which is by legal definititon the same as "as good as." The courts assume the quality of all products to be equally "best." You can also use the term "better" in advertising if you're not naming names, but if you use someone else's trademark in advertising and say you're "better" than they are, you have to have comparison data to back you up lest you get yerself sued.

  • by Tyriphobe (28459) on Friday February 16, 2001 @06:11AM (#426864)
    That's also why the Canadian government gives all Amerindians band and individual numbers

    You mean like banding birds? Do Mounties really set up big nets to catch Native Americans, put a metal band around their ankle, and then let them go free again? And I thought Canadians were liberal... ;)

    Sorry, I've been awake for too long.

  • by baptiste (256004) <mike.baptiste@us> on Friday February 16, 2001 @06:12AM (#426865) Homepage Journal
    And when you realized the mistake, you reentered the URL (or horrors actually used a bookmark ;) ) and went to the right site - big deal!

    As long as eReferee.com has a prominent message saying "We are in no way affiliated with Referee Magazine, etc, etc" all is good. Seems like most companies come up with solutions like this.

    Heck - I used to work for NORTEL when it was Northern Telecom and remember when they switched names. Some small outfit named Ortel in CA sued saying it was confusing. The result? NORTEL was forced to put "Nortel Networks" under the NORTEL name in small print on all sings, publications, etc.

    Not a huge deal - simple enough and it avoids confusion. I wish others could do the smart thing istead of the 'sue for profit' thing :)

    --

  • "...both products are magazines..."

    Huh? eReferee is a website and Referee Magazine is a magazine. I realize that both are news sources, but how can you say that their both magazines? Is /. a magazine?

    Web sites and magazine are vastly different things. A magazine requires a physical distribution network, printing presses, layout people, etc... A web site requires a server, a decent internet connection, network admins, etc... They may both be sources of information, but would eHistory.com infrige on The History Channel?

    -sk

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday February 16, 2001 @06:12AM (#426867) Homepage Journal

    If ICANN's arbitration is going to have any teeth, then they are going to have to add a step to domain registration, where the domain holder signs an agreement that they will abide by arbitrators' decisions.

    Whether this is a good idea or not, depends on who you trust more: ICANN's arbitration process, or the legal system.


    ---
  • Yeah and Belgian police arresting Napster users? [slashdot.org] Yes, the US is going nuts with Copyright and IP and patent decisions, but leave it to the EU to come up with the most bizarre cases and decisions.

    --

  • Stop trademarking descriptive names! . Basically the magazine company should not have been allowed to put up referee.com in the first place. (As an aside note, I'd personally search for http://www.refereemag.com if I went after an online version)

    They (dah mag) might stand a chance if they held a portal site directed to all kinds of referees.

    If they were clever they'd ask eReferee to put a link on their home page pointing to theirs (and possibly vice versa). That way you theoretically double the possible visitors while still sporting that scarce common-sense attitude.
    But lawyers and common sense probably don't match.

  • Does this then mean that Microsoft owns the word windows and the presence of any directory on a persons computer names windows is illegal? Does this mean makers of glass windows can't use the word windows to advertize their products on the net?
  • That is an excellent point, about a name not needing to be a fixed entity.

    We take the concept of a first+last name as an immutable part of our identities. It becomes a label which identifies us, but says nothing else about us. You cannot tell anything about a person from their "real" name.

    Its possible that the "net" culture is changing this. Alot of people new to things such as email, unix usernames, etc, tend to use a derivative of their realname. However, Ive noticed that my younger brothers have no artificial attachments.

    They go through identities roughshod, having no overwhelming attachment to any of them, but giving each a little life of its own. Ive noticed them even change their mannerisms to match the personae they take on.

    This also reminds me of my favorite dialog from the matrix- "my name is neo". He wasnt lieing- a name you pick for yourself is more real than one assigned to you.

    As for the trademark problem: It could be fixed relatively easily. Simply setup a national or global name registry of non-case sensitive, alphabetic strings. If you try to gain a name that matches another exactly you will be denied. If you are so much as one letter off- you are granted the string.

    Logo's might be a bit more subjective though. A way to make it objective would be to require that the company string be near or in the logo.

  • Let's just shut the root servers down and go back to IP addresses and host tables. Maybe as a side benefit that'd scare away some of the idiots who seem to be taking over the Internet.
  • Time to add more chlorine to the gene pool, me thinks.

    You know what this means:

    1) opportunities for people who like to post satire and political speech sites like "stupidreferee.com". (Go Team Go!)
    2) Tremendous headaches for the public officers and reporters of Referee Magazine [referee.com] with all of the people who like to telephone, mail, or email folks like that. Although their contact information page is minimal, they do have an 800 number for subsriptions.

    Just be polite to the Customer Service folks (we have all been through tech support hell), and call from a payphone.

    Referee Magazine is owned by Referee Enterprises, of Racine, Wisconsin.

    Their phone number is public, and very easy to find.

  • I agree. That's the only solution I see as well.

    And I have my doubts like you whether that would be a Good Thing(tm).

    I would be interested to know if the arbitration decision was even presented to the judge. I would hope the Respondent's attorney would be clueful enough to do that. If he did, then why didn't the judge say "This has already been settled in arbitration. Dismissed."?

  • I mean, no one could possibly confuse it with cocacola.com. Looks like the domain eslashdot.org just expired. Hurry!
  • by imipak (254310)
    >People assume that you are safe if a site, which has its name registered first, is in operation.

    Only if they're complete morons, or have been living in a cave for the past five years. Hello? WIPO? WTO? Ever read The Register [theregister.co.uk] ?
    --
    If the good lord had meant me to live in Los Angeles

  • There are two problems here:

    1st, "Referee" is a word, not some made-up product name. If you use a word in the english language as part of your company/product name, you risk branding confusion. You can not/should not be able to copyright an english word. (now a french word, that's another story!)

    2nd, the Internet brings global economy. If you want to play global, you have to accept the fact that it will be much harder to establish your unique presence. Who's to say who thought up of a name (or idea) "first"? Ladies and gentlemen, we have to share. Your ideas are generally not unique, and someone's probably doing what you're doing somewhere else - which doesn't mean that they stole your idea/trademark etc.
  • by nanojath (265940) on Friday February 16, 2001 @06:26AM (#426878) Homepage Journal
    Usually if I dig in these slashdot world gone mad rights articles tends to be a bit more grayscale and ambiguous in the unabridged version. This one gets scarier when you read more. The magazine wants to sue if customers who disagree with the decision boycott the magazine? They want to prevent eReferree from publishing response to the court case? Good God. We're gonna sue you, you're going to take it, and like it, and if your customers (or OUR customers) complain, why, we'll sue you again! Boycott this magazine.
  • (Disclaimer: Once upon a time I was a law student, before I saw the light, but I am still not a lawyer.)

    However, I think I recall (aka I'm too lazy to do any research right now) a provision of the Sherman AntiTrust Act that stated that advocating a boycott of a competitor was considered an unfair business practice. I believe it is possible that Referee Magazine could use that clause (or even some case law out there) to go after eReferee.com for "allegedly" sponsoring a boycott.

    The problem with that stance may be that the two are not competitors (may be irrelevant) and it sounds like eReferee has nothing to do with sponsoring this boycott. However, to flip it around again Referee Magazine could argue, and depending on the judge they get, that eReferee, by allowing a discussion of a boycott on their forums is in fact sponsoring the boycott implicitly.

    Or I could be talking out my ass. :)

  • magazine (mg-zn, mg-zn) n.

    A periodical containing a collection of articles, stories, pictures, or other features.

    periodical (pr-d-kl) adj.

    1. Periodic.

    2. a. Published at regular intervals of more than one day.
    2. b. Of or relating to a publication issued at such intervals.

    So, yes, they're both magazines. One is a print magazine, the other is an online magazine. 60 Minutes is a television magazine. They're all the same basic thing, just packaged differently.

  • Chances are this will be my first Score:0 post, but I just found it funny that you made a mistake (a perfectly understandable one, mind you), and then corrected yourself in a reply, and got modded up for both. :) Fun with slashdot.

    -Puk
  • It's not a trademark until it's used in trade. Hence the name.
  • The real bullshit is that Referee Mag wants to stop eReferee from redirecting traffic from the now banned eReferee.com to the legit officiating.com.

    Wouldn't that be even more confusing? Click on your bookmark or hyperlink to eReferee.com and get a 404. I'd assume that eReferee.com had gone belly up, just like so many other sites. That seems overly punitive. Not only does eReferee lose it's domain, but Referee Mag wants them to lose their current user base.

    -sk

  • First off, ICANN rulings should be binding, often times they suck, but what's the point if they aren't binding?

    Second, the fact that Right Sports can't even use the word referee as a directory name is so blatantly horrible I can't find the words.

    Lastly, Referee wants institute a fine, for redirecting people from ereferee.com to officiating.com. Basically, they want Right Sports to be fined for making use of a domain name that they still own. All they are doing is address redirection, like if a company moves to a new building, and has their mail forwarded.

  • I'm so sick of this 31337 writing style, it just grates on my nerves...

    sharkticon wrote:

    USia
    Where's this USia? The proper name of the country I think you're referring to is "The United States of America," and is sometimes referred to as the "USA" or "America." I also happen to like "The United States," although that might be ambiguous.

    Also, "USA" is not pronounced as a word, it's /YOO-ESS-AY/.

    Furthermore, if you intended to use "USia" as you would use "Asia," remember that there are several other countries in North America. Canada and Mexico, for instance. As far as I know, they're still independent, soveriegn nations

    Furthermore, in case in the future you want to write a plural for the word "box," let me remind you that it's "boxes" and not "boxen." Just because there's an animal with a name that rhymes and has a wierd plural form doesn't mean that all words that end in X have plurals formed that way. Saying "boxen" just makes you look uneducated.

    I admit that sometimes I say "England" when I mean "United Kingdom," but the part of the UK that I'm talking about when I say that is England. I just forget that I might be talking about Scotland, Ireland, the Falkland Islands and other places as well.

  • eReferee won the arbitration initially, but the arbitration result was overthrown by a federal judge.
  • ...That Referee.com [referee.com] has been going up and down with some desperate looking attempts at upgrading their site so that it looks like a legitimate e-commerce site.

  • Damn it, people. Please correct me if I'm wrong but that article on the napster users was not about napster users. It's about website operators. Read!
  • Where's this USia? The proper name of the country I think you're referring to is "The United States of America," and is sometimes referred to as the "USA" or "America." I also happen to like "The United States," although that might be ambiguous.

    America is actually a continent I think you'll find. Hence it is a collective term embracing the nations within it - Canada, Mexico, USia, Brazil, Argentina and so on. These are all American countries.

    Furthermore, if you intended to use "USia" as you would use "Asia," remember that there are several other countries in North America. Canada and Mexico, for instance. As far as I know, they're still independent, soveriegn nations.

    No because Asia is a continent, USia is a country, so they're not equivalent at all.

    Saying "boxen" just makes you look uneducated.

    True. Where did I say boxen?

  • Tread carefully. I think that business model has already been patented, so you could find yourself being sued.
  • The dude in the flowing black robes sitting in the front row on the 50 yard line at the super bowl? He had a hat on with eReferee in a red circle with a big slash through it, and a bunch of soon to be XFL Cheerleaders in his lap. Ah, America: Justice For All (who can afford it).

    Going on means going far
    Going far means returning
  • Onwership/trademark of common word in an online context is ridiculous. Not being able to name a directory /referee on a website is ridiculous. I am going to register as many ereferee and referee domans as possible, and rename all of my directories referee1, referee2, etc. I encourage you to do the same.
  • Why not drop them a line at questions@referee.com and rattle their cage a bit. C'mon- you know they deserve it!
  • I'd be very surprised to see this decision hold up on appeal. If the arbitrator laid out the 3 criteria correctly (confusing similarity, no legitimate interest in the name, and bad faith registration or use), then there's no way that RightSports should lose the name because confusing similarity (whether or not it exists) is insufficient on its own.

    Whether or not the names are similar is debatable, but it looks like a pretty blatant land-grab by Referee magazine. Given that both companies serve the same small market, I'm not surprised that their mutual customers are outraged by this and threatening a boycott. RightSports is providing much more value at a lower price, so Referee magazine is far more likely to alienate its own customers than to turn them against RightSports. Hopefully, this will eventually turn into a case study in why not to pull this kind of crap.
  • publish (pub' lish) v.
    1. To prepare and issue (printed material) for public distribution or sale.
    2. To bring to the public attention; announce.

    Despite FrontPage's nifty "Publish" command, I'd submit that a web site isn't published, it's uploaded.

    For all the talk of "e-magazines" there is a vast difference between a web site and a magazine, and for that matter, a television magazine. That they're packaged differently by definition makes them different.

  • by FrandGunk (146027) on Friday February 16, 2001 @07:02AM (#426903)
    This is probably the most effective way to put pressure on this corporation to recind it's ridiculous posistion.

    Here is the contact info:

    Amy Stober, Publicist
    CNN/Sports Illustrated & CNNSI.com Public/Media Relations
    Phone: (404) 827-5538
    Fax: (404) 588-2057
    amy.stober@turner.com [mailto]

    Amy Sasser, Publicist
    CNN/Sports Illustrated & CNNSI.com Public/Media Relations
    Phone: (404) 827-5021
    Fax: (404) 588-2057
    amy.sasser@turner.com [mailto]

    letters@si.timeinc.com [mailto]

    cnnsi@cnnsi.com [mailto]
  • The Wisconsin judiciary have jurisdiction over the inhabitants of Wisconsin, though. If set up a web sire selling beverage recipies through cocacola.tv, then I have broken UK trademark law, and can be forced to stop by the UK courts. Fair enough. The problem is in the USPTO (yes, them again) allowing "referee" as a trademark.
  • In relation to computer operating systems, yes they do. "Referee" own their trademark in relation to publications, which includes news and opinion websites like eReferee.
  • They also list about 40 other domain names

    I guess the good news is they just saved themselves over a grand a year in renewals... :-)

    Name ownership aside, which I do in fact understand, I think people are getting a little too excited about this stuff. It isn't like referee in the name is going to make a lick of difference. Want proof. Look at some of the largest traffic sites in their respective fields, slashdot, yahoo, amazon. WTF do any of those have to do with what the site does?

    The referee mag people should get over it, but so should rightsports. These battles don't matter. To paraphrase Cosmo, "It's all about the content"

    --

  • Wrote to the site feedback address, and their reply said they had more traffic by 9 AM than they normally get in a day. But they didn't fall over! Wonder what they're running on?
  • > Just be polite to the Customer Service folks (we have all been through tech support hell), and call from a payphone.

    But first check whether that payphone doesn't have a hidden camera... A couple of weeks back, a group of students, wanting some extra days off phoned in a bomb threat to their school. Police took the threats very seriously... and eventually found the prankster by tracing the call to the payphone, and then viewing the phone-booth's video footage... Big Brother is watching you!

  • After close reading of the original poster, what he said could be phrased as:

    P(2h)+ P(2t)=P(h+t)

    Which is to say that, given two coin tosses, your odds of splitting the results is the same as your odds of having the same result twice.

  • by KahunaBurger (123991) on Friday February 16, 2001 @08:01AM (#426925)
    Think this sort of thing would have been allowed to happen in the magazine publishing world? "Oh, gee, sorry, you can't publish any magazine with 'Referee' in the title in any form, we own that word."

    yes. Sometime (?late last year?) there was a suit filed by the publishers of Entrepenuer magazine to shut down new magazines with names like Black Entrepenuer and Women Entrepenuers. Big companies step on little companies all the time, but /. only notices it with web addresses.

    Kahuna Burger

  • by B14ckH013Sur4 (234255) on Friday February 16, 2001 @08:10AM (#426928)
    I'm going to interject here by saying you've both proven yourselves wrong by way of your dictionary blocks...
    periodical (pr-d-kl) adj.
    1. Periodic.
    2. a. Published at regular intervals of more than one day.
    Did you understand that phrase "more than one day?"
    and secondly...
    publish (pub' lish) v.
    1. To prepare and issue (printed material) for public distribution or sale.
    2. To bring to the public attention; announce.
    So now that you've both used words to completely unprove your point, can we just say that wasting energy over your differences in rhetoric is just plain stupid? Considering this is a story about the dangers and consequences of misappropriated words, would you both consider ending this pathetic thread?
  • I called them up to tell them that I wanted to file a friend of the court brief against them, and when I wouldn't immediately identify myself (I couldn't figure out if I wanted to file the brief as an individual or a member of an organization), they hung up on me. A shame.
    So, since they seem to be so eager to sue people, I registered the domain www.boycott-referee-magazine.org and called them back, spoke to the same person (Bob Still, their PR guy), but, alas, he declined my generous offer to let them sue me. Damn. I really would have liked them to fly from Wisconsin to mix it up in court. Oh well.
  • Blaming lawyers ignores the social and legal systems they work in. It's like blaming violent video games for violence in our society --- blaming symptoms rather than causes; focusing on a expressions of a system rather than the system itself.

    Lawyers are *required* to advocate on behalf of their clients --- it's grounds for malpractice if they don't --- and I'm glad they are. When I'm dealing with our legal system I sure want an expert working my side, navigating me through the system and doing everything they can to help me.

    The problem here is not the lawyers, it's the arrogance of a company and a legal system that's far from perfect. eReferee had lawyers too. The question is why did the judge agree with the lawyers for Referee magazine.
  • Any more info on this? Google searches are turning up dry for me.

    Sorry, I heard the report on my local NPR station one day at work, but I have a terrible memory for certain details (like dates or if they were quoting another news source).

    Kahuna Burger

  • It's like flipping a penny twice: odds are just as well that you'll get 2 heads or 2 tails as they are that you'll get 1 head and 1 tail.

    You stand a better chance of getting one head and one tail than anything else.

    Re-parse. He's saying that (the chance of 2 heads or 2 tails) = (chance of 1 head and 1 tail). And he's quite correct. 2/4 = 2/4.

    To look at it another way: Remember, he's talking about flipping a penny twice. After you flip it the first time and note the outcome, you then have a 50% chance of matching it with the second flip.

  • America is actually a continent I think you'll find

    Think harder. No map or atlas shows a continent named "America".

    "America", on the other hand, is the universally-understood short name for "The United States of America", just as "Germany" is the universally-understood short name for "The Federal Republic of Germany".

    I will join your self-righteous quest to rename America when you have joined mine to address the following egregious geoappelational injustices:

    • Ecuador has appropriated the Spanish name of the zero-latitude line crossing through such aggreived countries as Kenya, Indonesia, Malaysia (itself an offender, as we shall see below), Saudi Arabia, and many others.
    • Central African Republic infringes on Chad, which occupies Africa's geographical center of gravity.
    • And let's not forget South Africa, which has points far to the north of many other African nations, including Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe (the latter only by a few miles, but justice is justice).
    • Greenland is far less green than dozens of other countries. How dare they?
    • Does Liberia mean to discount the freedom enjoyed in other lands throughout the world? Their name certains indicates that they do. I hope you'll make sure they see the error of their ways.
    • New Zealand - well, I don't think I need to point out the flagrant harm being done here. The province of Zeeland in the Netherlands has vast polder (reclaimed land) areas which are far newer than anything the Kiwis can offer.
    • Malaysia usurps its name from the good people of Singapore and Thailand, who share with them the Malay peninusla. This case is particularly similar to the US/America issue so close to your heart. To add insult to injury, Malaysia has stolen the US flag and just substituted an Islamic crescent for the 50 stars.
    • United Kingdom diminishes with its very existence the achievement of so many other kingdoms worldwide that have achieved unity.

    I would go on but the unfairness of it all reduces me to a sputtering rage.

    I do hope that I can count on your support in consistently and equitably addressing all these horrific assaults against nomenclatural integrity worldwide. By your evident zeal I believe that I can.

    USia is a country

    Yeah? Which country is that?

  • American Indians, (i.e. Native Americans) can also be referred to as "Amerinds" and many prefer it. Amerindians(?) is not quite it.

    P.S. Indian comes from "in dios" or "under god". Not from the fact that Columbus thought he landed in India (Which was not even called India then). White People thought they had found heaven... Maybe that's why God makes them suffer to get in.
  • periodical (pr-d-kl) adj.
    1. Periodic.
    2. a. Published at regular intervals of more than one day.
    Did you understand that phrase "more than one day?"

    If you think that a usage has to satisfy all rather than any of the meanings supplied by a dictionary, you're going to have a hard time using a whole lot of words.

    Let's take 'cleave'.

    1. to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly

    2. to separate into distinct parts and especially into groups having divergent views

    Okay, now let's see you use that in a sentence.

  • Also, many countries do in fact require that you have an address in their country before registering one of their domains. And it would be much better if all the countries did that. Then the Cocos Islands wouldn't have so many thousand domains registered for their 700 citizens.

    If I may pry, why do you care about the citizen-to-domain ratio of Cocos and Keeling Islands?

  • It's called passing off - where a product or company is confusingly similar to another company, such that consumers might be misled, the tort of passing off is committed.

    The problem is that the law and courts take a very naieve view of small namespaces. Any programmer can tell you that when trying to refer to information without using the entire body of information (often a hash table), there is always a design tradeoff between the size of the hash keys and the number of hash collisions.

    Unless we want to start seeing URLs like www.erefereemagazinenottobeconfusedwithrefereemaga zine.com, www.informationpertainanttothefineartofofficiating atsporteventsnotbythepeoplewhoproduceinformationco ncerningthefineartofofficiatingatsportevents.com or even hsdsshskkysdkshjfdkhisiwouewpqndoapwapaspjcvwpo.co m (which will no doubt be sued by jfdkhisiwouewpqndoapwapaspjcvwpohsdsshskkysdksh.ne t) we will simply have to define an acceptable collision rate above 0 or require more than a simple similarity of names to define infringement.

    The above is especially true with descriptive names. There are only so many ways to describe something with any sort of accuracy. For example, Referee is a very generic term (pretty much describing any official of any sport). Referee Magazine would also be a generic term (naturally describiong any magazine targeted to the profession of refereeing).

    Another alternative would be to refuse to consider any word from any natural language to be tradmarkable. That doesn't strike me as being very palatable. There is a definate value to companies and consumers in being able to determine what a company does based on it's name.

    None of the drawbacks would be so bad if there were some way to get an affordable and definitive ruling from the start rather than facing the prospect of being dragged into a ruinously expensive litigation after the fact. Even successfully registering a trademark does not protect you from trademark litigation (it helps you once you are in court, but only if you can afford court in the first place). It seems that every law that could protect you from such litigation has one or more weasel clauses that effectively invalidate it's protection, like you're not infringing if you're in a different line of business UNLESS THE MAK IS "FAMOUS". It then goes on to totally fail to provide a definitive test of "FAMOUS".

    What defines sufficiantly distinct? No match in a soundex search? (no) X number os sylables are different? (no) Not a business at all? (no). All of those things are good indicators, but none are definitive.

    If that's not enough, all of the words in the laws have 'legal' definitions which may or may not bear any resemblance to the definition in Webster's. Thus, in the legal system, the Kinks' song may take on almost literal meaning (Left is right, Black is white, back to front....)

    In all of the legal principals out there, the most obviously important questions go unanswered: "How can we justly hold a person accountable for a body of laws that no person can ever fully understand or remember?" and "How can there be justice for all when much of the population cannot afford the process that is meant to yield justice?".

    Consider: Those among us who have dedicated their lives to understanding the law (lawyers, judges, and legislators) cannot necessarily keep themselves on the right side of the law (in spite of a desire to be lawful citizens). What chance do the rest of us have?

  • But does the law not prevent you from trademarking an English term which simply describes your type of business?
    Evidently not, they law supported Referee in this instance. What the law giveth with the text, it taketh away with the interpretation.

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