Following a stunt that saw the privately-owned domain name ModernWarfare3.com 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 ModernWarfare3.com was registered by an unnamed individual via GoDaddy.com 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 [ModernWarfare3.com] 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 ModernWarfare3.com 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, ModernWarfare3.com
is not loading. Reportedly, the site was hosting a copy of Activision's complaint before it went down.