Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stopping Blogspot Subdomains

Dear Rich: I have a question. My business partner and I have acquired trademark registration for the name of our business. We bought the domain name (.com), as well as about nine different extensions (.net, .org, etc.), and plural versions in nine extensions as well. We also have registered copyright protection on the name. I was going to use the name for a blog at the Blogspot domain -- but it is already taken. (The person who had it is no longer using it and has started a different blog.) Do we have any legal rights to the name when it is used as part of the domain name at Blogspot. If so, can we ask a confusingly similar website/blog to cease and desist? I'm so glad you asked. The short answer to your questions is, "Probably."

In your case, you registered in two classes and one of them included "On-line journals, namely, blogs featuring self-help, personal growth, and gratitude." So, you'll have a good basis to stop a blog that offers information or commentary under a confusingly similar name. That is, if you went to court, you would have a good chance of prevailing.
However, you will have difficulty asserting your rights against the blogger under international cybersquatting rules, even if the blogger acted in bad faith, since all blogs are subdomains. In other words, bloggers at don't "own" domains; they've acquired limited rights to post under Blogger's (that's the company that runs the service) terms of service. However, if the blog's name is misleading or confusing people as to its source, you may be able to appeal to Blogger (owned by Google, Inc., btw) based on a violation of its blog content rules. Write to them and explain the situation; they may be able to help you out.
The Dear Rich staff admires your diligence in acquiring all these forms of protection, but the staff is confused about your statement that you have acquired copyright protection in the name, since copyright does not extend to names.