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Activision Tries To Seize Domain
Activision Tries To Seize Domain
July 18, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

July 18, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

Following a stunt that saw the privately-owned domain name redirecting to a competitor's website, Modern Warfare 3 publisher Activision has sought legal action to have the domain seized.

The company filed a complaint with the National Arbitration Forum last week, attempting to have the domain transferred under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), which was established in the late 1990s to protect trademark holders from third parties that might register a domain that could be construed as being an official source of information.

The domain name was registered by an unnamed individual via on March 26 of 2009, well before Modern Warfare 3 was announced. However, Activision argues in its complaint (PDF file, via domain name blog Fusible) that the franchise's notoriety and fame leading up to that date clearly shows that the Modern Warfare brand "was extensively and prominently used prior to the [] domain registration date, and was as of that date and continues to be a highly distinctive and famous trademark that symbolizes substantial goodwill."

According to the rules of the UDRP, Activision must establish that the domain is identical to a trademark it has the rights to, that the person who registered it has no rights to the domain name, and that the individual in fact is using it in bad faith.

The first two are clearly in favor of Activision. As for the latter, Activision's complaint says that "it appears that the [site owner] supports the game Battlefield from the game developer Electronic Arts," citing that not only did the domain at one time redirect to the Battlefield website, it also urged visitors to "grow up and forget about Modern Warfare 3 (because it looks just like Modern Warfare 2) and buy Battlefield 3 instead," all while having the logos and appearance of a Modern Warfare 3 site that Activision says was confusing to consumers.

Additionally, Activision says that the site had advertisements, suggesting that the registrant was profiting from its trademarked franchise.

Activision is asking that ownership of the domain name immediately be transferred. If its complaint with the National Arbitration Forum is not ruled in its favor, Activision may be able to file a lawsuit under local law.

As of press time, is not loading. Reportedly, the site was hosting a copy of Activision's complaint before it went down.

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Brad Borne
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Heh, would be hilarious if Activision had to prove in court that any if the statements made on that site were incorrect.

Joshua George
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Then you get into first ammendment rights.

Christopher Federici
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While I'm sure this will go Activision's way, I find it odd they didn't snag that domain years ago. They should wise up and buy May as well buy em all the way up to

This domain stuff is nonsense though. The cost to own any of those domains is so cheap that Acti should own them all before they even dream of COD: MW 12. I find it a bit ridiculous that Mr. Deep Pockets can stand in court saying "oh yeah.... we just never thought of buying that domain name 3 years ago. Why should/would we have? So anyway..... since the name clearly belongs to us, can we have it back?" And they will get it back.

Poor foresight. Poor business practices.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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While I kind of agree with you (it is odd), there is a slippery slope. Should Acti have to buy, .co, .jp,, etc? There is no feasible limit to how many urls one can fathom that have a trademark in them. Which is why we have trademark protection; they only have to register their mark(s) in one place.

The fact that this site is profiting off of hits for an undeniably common search engine phrase without providing anything of content other than cynically redirecting to a competing game proves that this is for-profit trademark infringement, not parody or a fan site. I don't say this often, but I have to side with Activision on this one *shudder*. Domain squatting and trademark infringement are obvious attempts to profit off of non-contribution to society and good will theft, just because the big guys are the victim this time doesn't make it right.

Evan Combs
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Trademarks usually are far more specific than just the name. I'm not sure you can actually trademark website domains. Amazon can trademark the logo, but not the domain itself. Also many companies (especially companies the size of Activision) already do that. They will buy their domain with a bunch of different suffixes and different spellings so they don't have to do this and so that people who go to the wrong site can be re-directed to the proper site.

Ryan Miller
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Could this not be considered fair use as a parody?

Mark Nelson
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...what if the owner changes his/her name to Modern Warfare Three? :-)

Shaun Greene
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brb registering

now we play the waiting game

Florian Garcia
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Just 5 years to go.