How to annoy your rivals and land in legal hot water.
Wired published an article this week about an interesting character in the non-alcoholic beverage industry who is registering domains matching his competitors’ brands.
Reynald Grattagliano is the founder of non-alcoholic beverage maker ArKay. By all accounts, he’s been in the business for much longer than competitors such as Seedlip and Ritual Zero Proof. Apparently, he’s so annoyed by the competition that he has registered many domains matching his competitor’s brands.
It’s kind of like if Yahoo was miffed back in the day that Google and other internet search companies launched and registered their brand in domain names.
Grattagliano registered Kentucky74.com, which matches a rival’s brand, and created a site that promotes Arkay’s alternative. He even got a trademark for the name in Mexico.
Still, this seems like cybersquatting, even if he has the trademark in another jurisdiction. From the Wired article:
Purchasing domains with other people’s trademarks in them is known as cybersquatting and is almost as old as the internet itself. In 1999, Congress outlawed the practice. But Grattagliano says he grabbed domains that correspond with other companies’ products before the trademarks were registered in the first place. “Many competitors are so much focused on destroying me that they forgot to register their trademarks and domain names,” says Grattagliano. “Therefore my job is to protect my business by securing trademark and domain names.”
It doesn’t matter that they hadn’t registered their trademarks yet. He clearly registered the domains because he knew they matched a competitor’s brand. It’s not like if Microsoft announces a new product but doesn’t acquire the matching domain, then Apple can go ahead and register it.
Grattagliano has gone even further, publishing fake press releases, including one that said it was acquiring two of its rivals.
This isn’t Grattagliano’s first rodeo snapping up domains of competitors. He did the same thing in the late 90s when he was working in the perfume industry, Wired reports.