It must be said that it’s a little stupid to register a domain that clearly smacks of copyright infringement, although for 10 bucks the risk isn’t that great if the worst that can happen is an order to give it to its rightful owner. The latest example of this is ipad3.com, which Apple has filed a claim for with WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The domain is inactive at present, and was registered in Jan 2010 on the very day Steve Jobs announced the first iPad, along with ipad4.com, ipad5.com and the rest of the 100 related domains shrewd domainers were anticipating the release of over the coming century, I’m sure.
Arguably the defendant, whoever it may be, has a case, simply because the new iPad is not actually called the iPad3, but instead referred to as simply “the new iPad”. It’s only called the iPad3 as a way of distinguishing it from its predecessors, iPad and iPad2. If anything, the name is a product of media speculation and as such has forced Apple’s hand in going after the domain.
Leaning on WIPO to quash trademark infringement is nothing new for Apple, who has been going after domains left, right and center in the last couple of years. iphone5.com has already been handed over to Apple, as was iphone4s.com back in 2010. There have also been disputes over a number of deliberate misspellings like aplestore.com, which was awarded to Apple on May 30, and eight URLs with potential misspellings of applemusic.com, which all went to Apple on June 4.
More disputes are on the horizon, too. iPadmini.com and miniiPad.com are both registered outside of Apple’s control, and with speculation mounting over a smaller Apple tablet anticipated later this year, no doubt these domains will become targets for the Apple legal team.
And so it begs the question, should it be first come first served in the world of domaining, or are we to assume that the bigger the company the more likely WIPO is to roll the domain owner over? I guess you’re asking for trouble messing with big trademarks like iPad and iPhone, but then if a domainer second guesses a company’s future move and registers a product name before its invention, surely this is the harsh reality of capitalism every business must face. I understand there are blatant trademark infringements, but where typo domains are concerned and products that haven’t been invented yet the area, I believe, is greyer than currently perceived.
I also wonder whether it wouldn’t be easier for Apple to pay the domainer a price for the domain that amounted to less than WIPO fees, lawyer fees, admin costs, etc. The approach could be one of, “it will cost us this to take the domain off you via WIPO, so how about we give you xxx,xxx.” But then that would encourage more domain squatting, I guess. Oh well, the least they can do is reimburse the current owner’s registration fees.