Conservative “think tank” gets mud on its face by not registering .com domain name.
Many domain arbitration decisions are dry reads. But I found myself cracking up this morning reading the case of SutherlandInstitute.com.
Southerland Institute is a Utah-based conservative group that purports to promote family, limited government, and religion. Its web site is SutherlandInstitute.ORG, and it failed to register the .com version of its name. Nick West registered the domain name in 2006 and created a parody of Sutherland Institute’s web site. West won the arbitration.
It’s the sworn statement from Sutherland Group’s president Paul Mero that made me almost cry laughing:
…On February 26, 2009, I personally met with the largest donor to Sutherland Institute. This donor had compiled a list of ideas to improve Sutherland Institute, and we discussed this list in detail. One of the ideas in the list was to improve Sutherland Institute’s website. Our donor appeared to be very troubled by certain content on the website. I was surprised by this suggestion because we had recently updated and modified the website. Furthermore, I could not believe that our website had caused such a negative reaction from a donor who has been such a long-time supporter of Sutherland Institute. Upon further investigation, I determined that our donor was referring to sutherlandinstitute.com, not the official Sutherland Institute website sutherlandinstitute.org. It required several attempts to clarify to our donor that the â€˜.com’ website was not sponsored by Sutherland Institute because our donor did not immediately understand that â€˜sutherland institute’ could be used as a domain name for both the â€˜.org’ and â€˜.com’ top-level domains. More specifically, our donor did not understand the significance of top-level domain differences.â€
To understand how funny this is, consider the “Sutherland Governing Principles” on the think tank’s real web site:
and on the parody web site:
Oppose The Gay Agenda
Limited Government Except When We Don’t Get Our Way
Our Bigoted Definition of Family
The One True Religion
Personal Responsibility & Taking Away Others Choice
Anti Same Sex Marriage Legislation
Free Markets, Exclude Homosexuals from Places of Employment
Can you imagine a major donor coming to the web site and thinking the organization he sponsored had this actual content on its web site?
A statement by another Sutherland Institute employee reads like a checklist of why owning a .com is important, particularly for security reasons. The think tank’s own web site designer was sending invoices to an email address at the .com version rather than .org. That’s a great example to show someone who’s thinking about starting a company with a domain name other than .com.
You can read the entire decision here.