Sprite.me and Firefox.me go back to their rightful owners.
When .me launched to the general public last year, it was clear that a lot of people hadn’t heard of cybersquatting. Domain names like Porsche.me, Toyota.me, and Firefox.me were snapped up (and not my their familiar namesakes). Many of these domains were picked up at auction for a substantial amount of money.
Why did .me attract so many deep pocketed cybersquatters? I can only surmise that .me attracted a lot of people that didn’t know much about domain investing. They viewed .me as another internet goldrush, and thought the quickest way to riches was buying trademark domain names.
The owner of both Porsche.me and Toyota.me learned a lesson when he lost the domain name Porsche.me at arbitration in November. Could Toyota.me, and the $90,000 he spent on it, be next?
Brand holders continue to file UDRP complaints for popular trademarks in the .me country code. Mozilla won a case for Firefox.me and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) picked up Sprite.me. The registrant of both of these domain names was an outfit called Metro Media in Beverly Hills. When Mozilla Foundation contacted Metro Media about Firefox.me, Metro Media responded with an asking price of $10,000. As soon as Mozilla filed a UDRP with World Intellectual Property Association, Metro Media offered to transfer the domain at no cost. It also offered to transfer Sprite.me at no cost. That Metro Media tried to squeeze the non-profit Mozilla Foundation for $10,000 suggests that it was unfamiliar with cybersquatting laws and UDRP.
There are a few other .me domain names currently at arbitration, including Overstock.me. Guess who owns this domain? Yep, Metro Media.
But other registrants have also lost .me domain names, including danone.me, exxonmobil.me, and creditmutuel.me.
To be sure, not all arbitration cases are legitimate. Just see Ping.me.
The one big winner is the .me registry and its partners, such as GoDaddy. They get to keep the auction riches even when the domain is later lost at arbitration.