Altria Gearing Up to Sell Marijuana?

Company files case against owner of marijuana domain names.

Altria MarijuanaAltria Group, the parent company of tobacco company Philip Morris USA, has filed an arbitration proceeding to get the domain names and

Is the company getting ready for the day pot becomes legal? Perhaps, but the company is probably more concerned about the content on the web sites. Both sites invite visitors to “Fight Against the Legalization of Marijuana” and ridicule tobacco companies as beneficiaries of legalization of the drug. After explaining a number of bills that have been passed or introduced to legalize marijuana, the sites proclaim:

Greater than the sum of all these fears is the premonition that, when made legal, “big business,” especially those “big businesses” that profit from poisoning our society and the destroying our youth with tobacco and alcohol, will engage in and ultimately control this “multi-billion dollar” industry, furthering the decline and destruction of America at a unfathomable rate. Thus it is the mission of this website to fight the legalization and usage of marijuana/cannabis and all other intoxicating, addicting, and illicit substances.

The domain names are registered to a person in Washington, D.C., but the contact email address is for an IT/hosting company. The web sites do not identify who is behind them.

2009 Domain Dunce Award: Panelist Andrew F. Christie

WIPO arbitrator wins 2009 Domain Dunce Award.

Last year I handed out a couple Domain Dunce awards. But there was so much stupidity in the domain name world this year that I have about five to hand out.

The first winner of the 2009 Domain Dunce awards is WIPO arbitrator Andrew F. Christie.

I’m going to coin a new phrase: “circular reference arbitration”. It’s when a UDRP panelist refers to his own cases as precedent, as Mr. Christie likes to do.

I first became aware of Christie’s circular reference antics when reading the case for, a case currently involved in a lawsuit. In his decision handing the domain name over to Ville de Paris, Christie ignored thousands of cases of UDRP precedent and the rules themselves, which clearly state that a domain name must be registered and used in bad faith. Instead, Christie decided that a domain name can be registered in good faith but used in bad faith at a later date and still be handed over.

How did he do this? He cited one of his prior decisions without mentioning that they were his decisions!

In the decision, under the header “Reconsideration of the bad faith requirement”, arbitrator Andrew F. Christie cited previous cases decided by a “distinguished” panelist who found that domain names don’t need to be registered AND used in bad faith, as the UDRP states. Instead, this panelist decided that a domain not registered in bad faith could still violate the policy if later used in bad faith.

The panelist he was referring to was M. Scott Donahey, who referred to an even earlier decision in Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows. Christie wrote “The issue addressed in the [Donahey decisions] is profound, and the panelist addressing them is distinguished”.

What Christie didn’t mention was that he was the panelist in the Telstra case that Donahey relied upon. In other words, Christie wrote the Telstra decision, another panelist agreed, and now Christie is using this “profound” issue as established fact. How’s that for a circular reference?

It gets better. In another poorly decided case (although the ultimate outcome is correct) for, Christie again refers to his earlier decisions without mentioning that they were his decisions.

After determining that was registered well before the complainant had any rights to the term, Christie again stated that this was not enough for the respondent to win the case. This time he cited Donahey’s decisions, based on Christie’s decision in Telstra, as well as his own case. Again, he didn’t mention his involvement with these cases!

After reviewing the reasoning in the [Donahey cases], the panel in Ville de Paris v. Jeff Walter, WIPO Case No. D2009-1278 (“Ville de Paris”) came to a similar view.

Perhaps this should read:

After reviewing the reasoning in Donahey’s cases, which were based on my reasoning in Telstra, I agreed with myself in WIPO Case No. D2009-1278 (“Ville de Paris”).

Mr. Christie has done a slick job using circular references to his own decisions without mentioning that they are his own decisions. He has also decided that, for each UDRP case he receives, he will pervert the definition of “registered and used in bad faith”.

For that, we give Andrew Christie a 2009 Domain Dunce award.

How Much Email Marketing is Too Much Email Marketing?

Finally, my inbox can rest.

Christmas is over. And it couldn’t have come too soon for my email inbox. It was inundated with email promotions for holiday gifts.

These emails weren’t technically spam. After all, I had ordered gifts from companies such as Harry & David last year, and I gave them permission to send emails to me with special offers in the future.

But how many emails can a company send without violating the sanctity of that opt-in? Harry & David and its sister company Wolferman’s literally sent at least one email a day in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It started around Thanksgiving and didn’t let up. (In fact, it still hasn’t let up. Apparently they have more pears to sell and are offering post-holiday discounts).

My favorite was one morning when I received an urgent email from Harry & David: Last day to order and get delivery by Christmas with free express shipping!

Then, later that afternoon: Only a couple hours left to order and get delivery by Christmas with free express shipping!

Two emails in one day is excessive. But the punchline came the next day: Extended! Today is really the last day to order with free express shipping!


E-commerce stores, take note. When your customers opt-in to receiving promotional emails, you need to respect what that means. Sending an email a couple times a month during most of the year is reasonable. Then perhaps weekly before the holidays. But one or two emails a day for a month is not what people signed up for.