One Year Later: The Day a Hospital Won a Geo – Two of Them
The is a follow-up to the ICANN article on the UDRP Wall Of Shame survey, taken during January’s T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference.
To review: On March 11, 2009, the World Intellectual Property Organization ruled in favor of the transfer of LomaLinda.net and LomaLinda.org to a university hospital, just because the hospital is tied to Loma Linda University. The problem, however, is that Loma Linda is the name of a California city, a broadcasting network, a Christian School, a church, a health-food store, and, if you remove the “loma part”, my mother’s first name.
So, considering the precedent this WIPO ruling has set for geo-domains, we decided to ask the Michael and David Castello, of the Castello Cities Internet Network, what they believe the portent of this ruling could be. As this brotherly duo has developed some well-known and profitable geo domains, including PalmSprings.com and PalmBeach.com, we wondered whether they had a concern about the WIPO ruling.
David Castello told us that he is not worried, but he does see a trend where it concerns undeveloped domains. Asked if he was concerned the LomaLinda.net / .org ruling might result in a threat to any of his geo-domains, David Castello said, point blank, “I’m not too worried about it. If anyone tried to challenge us they would have a war on their hands,” he said.
Mr. Castello noted there are potential risks in acquiring certain domain names, and leaving them parked for too long a period. “Undeveloped names are increasing vulnerable to UDRP challenges,” he wrote us. “Most of our Geos are bonafide businesses that we have owned and developed for 15 years,” he added.
But the trend to easily shutting down domain owners’ parked domains or under-developed websites is growing. Microsoft recently won the favor of the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia to take down 273 domain names. The case revolves around what Microsoft claims is a large-scale malware network that has been allegedly using the domain names in question to spread malicious code across the Internet. Considering nobody had any opportunity to respond, there are questions about the legitimacy of the Virginia court’s take-down order.
These are dangerous times for domain owners.