Man who shelled out big bucks in .me auction kicking himself now.
Pity poor Georg Kohler of Brazil.
In August I wrote about how he snapped up car company names in the .me launch auctions. He even paid $90,025 for Toyota.me. Apparently he hadn’t gotten the memo from ten years ago about the dangers of owning trademarked domain names.
In a recent World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) decision, he lost Porsche.me to the car company. Could his $90,000 investment in Toyota.me be too far behind?
On both Porsche.me and Toyota.me, Kohler has landing pages that say the domain will be used for cars but in a non-commercial manner:
Welcome to our future non comercial [sic] Porsche Fan Club Site…Disclaimer: www.porsche.me is not owned by, sponsored by, authorized by, sanctioned by Porsche AG
The panel must not have bought it, or decided it didn’t care that it was non-commercial. Unfortunately WIPO hasn’t posted the decision online yet so we can’t read its rational. [update: the decision is now posted. The panel found that a) the fact that the domain is just the trademark – not trademarkfans.me or something like that – creates instant confusion and b) he offered to sell the domain to Porsche upon receiving a cease and desist letter.]
Kohler isn’t the only one to lose his .me domain names.
ExxonMobil recently picked up ExxonMobil.me from a Tampa, Florida man. Confederation Nationale du Credit Mutuel picked up CreditMutuel.me. It won’t be long before other trademarks get picked up in arbitration.
For once, it must feel good to have been in second place (the folks who bid Kohler up that high).
Madea Simmons says
Some people just don’t get it. Andrew is right on the money. The bigger companies are getting smarter (and more desperate) every day. Better think up a good acronym for Toyota (Think Or You’re Out That Amount?) or it’s strike two.
Good luck dude, you’ll need it.
What a fool…
Rob Sequin says
One would have to ask why didn’t Toyota and Porche get the .me in the sunrise period for $xx rather than spending $xxxx+ on a WIPO claim?
If I was the head of the legal department I’d be pretty pissed that someone didn’t hand reg the .me.
Kevin Jackson says
WQ the guy may seem stupid, but don’t you think the auction providers are to get some blame as well?
Some of these auction providers are well respected companies, and some even have their own internal legal advisers.
They should have known that these domains that they were offering for sale via their platforms had the potential to violate the rights of trademark holders.
I would consider suing them.
David J Castello says
Darwin’s Theory prevails.
Simply amazing that people would spend that much money on such a high risk domain name.
EM @KING.NET says
Too much to gamble for this name. And I’m not a fan of .me extension so I don’t really care.
Porsche.me? everybody knows it’s a trademarked, I guess not.
Paul...aka Has2hands says
He also purchased: screw.me
“He also purchased: screw.me”
Fitting, isn’t it?
I personally think the registrar should refund his money…if not then take them to court.
If I try to sell stolen/illegal items from my house the cops would toss me in jail. The same should go for the registrar. They can’t say that an $90,000 auction went unnoticed….now can they? How convenient for them.
I say they are friggin’ crooks.
Rob Sequin says
I think registrars have a sunrise period for this reason.
Who’s to say the guy doesn’t have a daughter named Porsche.
I’m not saying he is justified. Actually he’s pretty stupid for spending that kind of money but I’m not sure the registrar is liable here.
Derrick Austin says
A daughter called Porsche? That’s possible but with another “child” named Toyota … it’s stretching reasonable probabilities. Look out for their future newborn, named Volkswagen. A fool and their money…
>>WQ the guy may seem stupid, but don’t you think the auction providers are to get some blame as well?<<
The fool is the one who bought the domain.
I think the fact that he paid so much money for it shows bad faith (in a way). Unless he already ran some sort of Porshe fan club that he is trying to build up, what rational person would spend so much on a domain name that is a clear trademark, if they wern’t trying to get a piece of Porshe’s pie. Flip it the other way, had he spent like $100 on it (not too likely to happen anyway) then it would be hard to call that bad faith because it was at least a seemingly reasonable decision.
He should have ran out and got a new puppy, named it Porshe and put up a website about the dog. I would have avoided the automotive/porshe vertical all together.
DR. DOMAIN says
In my early domaining days…I thought I was cute in buying up a handful of names that could be trademarks.Then I saw arbitration award-after lawsuit go against the douches who thought as I did.In a panic-I hit the dump button on about 40 names in my portfolio.A 500 dollar lesson learned.I’m much more polite these days.
Anyone thast drops $90k on 1 domain KNOWS what they are doing imho especially in this business! This guy simply was either greedy or plain simply didnt care about tm isues.
The domain name wasn’t stolen or illegal in any way, and it’s not for the registrar to say who should “own” it save for the one who pays and meets their conditions. Until someone disputes their registration, maybe, but has to meet the registrar’s conditions for maintaining it, too.
The trademark holder could sue the registrar, depending on a variety of things like jurisdiction. But…it may not be worthwhile.
Ken Gettys says
It’s not enough having a domain name that is trademarked then trying to pretend that it really represents something else. And even if your last name is Porsche, if the Porsche company has registered the name Porsche as a trademark, you are probalby out of luck and going to be out of the domain name (whatever follows the dot) if the Porsche Company (or whoever is the trademark holder). Of course trademarks are registered within a country, so a company headquartered outside of a country may have a hard time claiming a name unless they have been around for a long time as Porsche and Toyota have. What I hope is that someday I get an offer from CNN for the Domain name: CNNNYC.com that I own. Seems the other networks are using their TLAs along with city names to represent their local stations, i.e. CBSNYC.com. And for a small amount of $5000 CNN can have CNNNYC.com without a long court battle 🙂
Rob , The Real point is this : Companies and even Private Entities shouldn’t HAVE To participate in every “Sunrise” period for every crap extension that comes down the line to protect their Brand. I mean with the Idiotic decision to now allow extensions to be made up and purchased more openly – Where would it end ?
If common sense and decency would prevail – We wouldn’t even have this News story to talk about.
Pat W says
It would be OK to Gamble and Buy these 2 DOT-ME domains at the Launch or Pre-Launch period for a cheap gamble with the hope TOYOTA or PORSCHE might be “NICE” to YOU and make a good offer to eliminate Legal fee’s & Legal Time involved – But when your talking $90K – no matter how smart you think you are – you still have to confirm this with another Smart Expert just to verify you are making a very “wise decision”.
Pat W says
Also PORSHE & TOYOTA made a Great Vote of Confidence that the DOT-ME’s are needed by Big Business. I personally like them a lot but there is never no sure thing with out much risk and only time will tell you on this one – But in a little over a “100 Days” since the July 17, 08 Launch there have been quite a few bright-lights for DOT-ME.
If many of these companies are going after their DOTME brands/names in WIPO; this doesn’t always happen with other extensions.
Company blogging is enormous and it is a great way, for example, in this case for Porsche drivers and customers to interact and create a community and forum for the Company to gain info and listen to customers and prospective customers. Branding with ME seems to have a lot of potential, especially as a way to focus on personalization.
Per the “bad faith” issue, Porsche and Toyota are established brands and there’s not much wiggle room for the buyer to extricate himself from this imbroglio. He could use these names in other categories outside automotive, such as a hardware store, etc, but it won’t fly. Certain brands such as Sony, Google, Microsoft, Toyota, BMW, Disney, SAAB, etc have already gained significant mindshare that use in any other category or class will only confuse the minds of consumers in Interstate commerce, which constitutes grounds for potential infringement.
Is the registry at fault. Absolutely not; they had no idea who was bidding on these names. Should they have intervened once they realized the owner(s) were not Porsche and Toyota. That’s the job of WIPO, and besides, the IP legal departments of these companies (as did many companies) had adequate time to register their brands during the Sunrise period.
So there are multiple parties at fault here, and the “winner” of these names is the obviously loser. But if he can shell out that kind of money for these names, I imagine he can afford it.Certainly will be a nice conversation piece, Hey, did you know I once owned Porsche and Toyota. For that bit of money, he could have bought the real things – i.e, the cars themselves.
I wish I would have invested in this DOTME extension, as it definitely has lots of upside. I’m seeing solid sales. This one seems to have what it takes to become a top tier domain extension.
Roger, only 3 UDRPs have been filed for .me as far as I can tell.
Also, some comments suggest that Toyota is going after toyota.me. Although I believe this will happen, as far as I know Toyota has not filed a UDRP yet.
Just yesterday i actually had a look to see if Porsche was free in any TLD. I think it would suit my car,,
There is always a price to pay to learn the hardway
Dave Zan says
Just a passing fantasy, but I wonder if Porsche thought it might be “cheaper” to dispute the registration via UDRP afterwards rather than participate in the auction and have to possibly pay more. If they win and get the domain name, and it turns out they only spent maybe $15K (?), then that is some gamble.
it must feel good to have been in second place
Porsche.me still seems to show this guy’s website.
jp- The transfer doesn’t happen right away. There’s a period you can file a lawsuit to block it, and then it can take a bit of time for the registrar to comply with the transfer.
BoB Monster says
First of all FORGET the acronym thing, a name doesn’t have to be the same as the trademark only confusingly similar which it is !
Micheal Rowe lost is trading name MikeRowesoft.
Secondly the providers of the auction should be held responible in full for liability, a military surplus auction can’t knowingly sell explosives or landmines, given domain names are all listed then their computer system should have recognised a 3rd party trademark domain.
Pat W says
Personally I think (“JP” #14) had the Perfect IDEA to Pull This Off and Legally Keep PORSHE.ME Legally for Himself and His Puppy Dog’s Web-Site: PORSCHE.ME…
Am I Right or Wrong on this one???
Ken Gettys says
Pat W. is right!That is if stealing is now the morally, ethnically, and the legally right thing to do.
Let’s say Pat W. spends a billion dollars developing “Stuffed Widgets”. And because these “Stuffed Widgets” become very a popular consumer product, Pat W.’s “Stuffed Widgets” company makes him lots and lots of money. And of course now everyone knows what “Stuffed Widgets” are and even who Pat W. is because he is the king of the “Stuffed Widgets”.
Then along comes Pat X. who sells puppy dogs, likes the name “Stuffed Widgets” (because dogs are kinda stuffed and widgety), so he names his company “Stuffed Widgets”.
Then along comes Pat Y., who has developed a “Stuffed Widgets” baking product, and she starts using the name “Stuffed Widgets” for her company (because her baked product is stuffed and widgety).
Than along comes Pat Z., who replicates (copies without rights) and starts selling an identical “Stuffed Widgets” product that Pat W. has been selling, so Pat W.’s product becomes lost in the maze.
And since Pat W.’s income goes away, Pat W. is left alone with nothing to do but to post comments late, late at night, on blogs. 🙂