Guest contributor Zak Muscovitch is a domain name lawyer, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been practicing domain name law for over ten years. Go to http://www.DNattorney.com and http://www.muscovitch.com. This time he follows up on a case we reported on earlier, where Chris Bosh won his own domain name, ChrisBosh.com along with 800 additional similar domains for other stars.
Is Chris Bosh a “Cyber-hero” or “Cybersquatter”?
Many domainers are now familiar with the remarkable news item reporting that Toronto Raptors NBA star Chris Bosh won a judgment for $120,000 against a domainer, Luis Zavala (Hoopology.com), for registering ChrisBosh.com. The judgment apparently came down in April, but then Bosh’s lawyers reportedly convinced the judge to order that the domainer’s 800 other mainly sports and celebrity domain names domains be handed over to Chris Bosh as well, since the defendant wasn’t likely to pay the $120,000 judgement that Chris Bosh had obtained in an action under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, for cybersquatting.
Bosh’s lawyer reportedly stated, that “the Raptors’ star has no intention of holding onto any of them except his own. He’s not trying to make any money here. He just wants to give these players their names back“.
Accordingly, Chris Bosh sues a guy for cybersquatting and then takes 800 cybersquatted domain names as ‘damages’. Bosh’s lawyers are apparently going to decide for themselves, who deserves the domain names: “We are notifying the world that anyone whose name is on this list that has a legitimate right to the domain name, Chris will transfer it to them for free,” said Brian Heidelberger, one of three lawyers who represented Bosh.” Accordingly, it appears that the Judge may have enabled a sports star and his lawyers to determine ‘who has the rights to particular domain names’. Here is the actual text of the lawyers’ terms for handing over the domain names – a kind of topsy-turvy “para-UDRP” process which is apparently entirely within the discretion of a basketball star and his lawyers:
Chris Bosh and Max Deal offer the return of the domain name free of charge as a courtesy to the celebrity named herein, provided that such person promptly requests the return of such domain name in writing from Max Deal. Domain names will not be returned without a direct written request from an authorized person to Hadi@MaxDealTechnologies.com. Prior to transferring any domain name on this list, Chris Bosh and Max Deal reserve the right to require documentation in their reasonable discretion to support the requester’s rights in the domain name. Domain names on this list may or may not be renewed at Chris Bosh and Max Deal’s sole discretion. Chris Bosh and Max Deal reserve the right to at any time in their sole discretion to delete or cancel domain names on this list. Chris Bosh and Max Deal will not charge any fees for the transfer of domain names on this list. All third party costs relating to transfer of any domain name on this list to an authorized rights holder, including but not limited to transfer fees charged by the requester’s registrar, are the sole responsibility of the party requesting transfer. Chris Bosh and Max Deal make no representations express or implied regarding any domain name on this list. By requesting or accepting the transfer of a domain name, you hereby release Chris Bosh and Max Deal from any and all liabilities in connection therewith.
But who is Max Deal? Max Deal is short for “Max Deal Technologies”, a company reportedly founded by Chris Bosh and partner, Hadi Teheran. According to Bosh’s lawyers’ press release, “Max Deal is a social media company that allows brands to increase their reach“. Certainly using the ‘recovered’ domain names as aforesaid demonstrates an impressive reach, even for an NBA star. This is what Chris Bosh has to say according to the press release:
“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.”
Accordingly, it appears that when someone calls up to ‘get their domain name back’ from Chris Bosh, who is the new owner of the formerly cybersquatted domain names, Bosh will take the opportunity to try to sell them on ‘how they can use the domain names in connection with his social media business’. Furthermore, according to the terms referred to above, Chris Bosh can delete or cancel any domain name in his sole discretion. Accordingly, one had better be careful or the domain name could get dropped and picked up by another cybersquatter.
The question then arises, ‘what happens if Chris Bosh decides to not give back a name because the claimant doesn’t meet his criteria?’ Maybe Bosh takes the position that one of the highschool basketball players or Venezuelan racecar drivers on his list doesn’t have common law trademark rights? Could Bosh be the Respondent in an ICANN UDRP proceeding or ACPA action? The Complainant could argue that Bosh registered the domain names in bad faith and is using them in bad faith because he won’t give them back and registered them with the intention of using them in bad faith as part of his monetization scheme in Max Deal…
Can you imagine if a domainer registered 800 celebrity domain names and his defence was that he would give them back to anyone who convinced him that they were the rightful owner and listened to his pitch that they could do great business together by letting the domainer monetize their name? What would happen to the domainer in a case like that?….
Apparently, this situation has raised the ire of at least one domain name owner. If you visit MaxDeal.com (registered to “Donain [sic] Name for Sale of Staten Island, NY”, and apparently not associated with the MaxDealTechnologies.com web site registered to Bosh’s partner, Hadi Teheran, which is currently down) the site states that it’s slogan is, “MaxDeal.com, Creating an Unfair Advantage for Sports Agents”. Will this be the next target on Bosh’s domain name acquisition spree? Or will it be MaxDeals.com (the plural) currently operated as a jewellery store founded by a Max Beloff in 1933?
According to Bosh’s lawyer, Chris Bosh is a “cyber-hero”. Nevertheless, having become the owner of some 800 domain names ‘belonging’ to someone else, one must wonder whether he has been made into an unwitting cybersquatter.
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