Will Soon Be Under Dawkins’ Control May 24, 2010 Will Soon Be Under Dawkins’ Control

If you’ve ever visited Richard Dawkins‘ website, you may have wondered why the URL was

Dot Net?

Why did that happen? Presumably because was taken.

The owner of claimed that he was using the domain name merely as a fan site for Dawkins. There were affiliate links on the web site that linked to various products related to Dawkins, but the owner claimed that those links were there in exchange for free web hosting.

Another benefit for the owner was that links to Dawkins’ books went to Amazon and he would get a cut of the profits, basically benefitting off of Dawkins’ name.

Today, however, it was announced that Dawkins would get that URL transferred to him, where it belongs. A three-judge panel at the National Arbitration Forum said he was the rightful owner of it:

The Panel unanimously finds that Richard Dawkins has established a common law trademark in his name. The three Panel members agree that Mr. Dawkins has perhaps done the most thorough job in establishing the existence of the common law trademark in a personal name that any of the three panelists have seen.

Put as simply as possible, when any one of the three panelists hears the name “Richard Dawkins”, each thinks automatically of the books and articles written by Mr. Dawkins supporting evolution, opposing creationism, and defending or asserting atheism.

What does this mean for Dawkins and for his fans? Probably not much. My guess is that the Dot Com URL will soon direct people right back to the Dot Net website.

Still, good for Dawkins for getting that URL back.

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  • I never considered that Dawkins or his publisher might not be in control of the .com site. I assumed he was keeping his commercial and not-for-profit endeavors separate to maintain his not-for-profit status.

  • Nakor

    As a geek, any strike against domain squatters is a good one in my book.

  • That guy who owned the .com is a complete dick. He also own(ed?) a twitter account @Richard_Dawkins. He had that account long before Dawkins himself ever bothered with twitter.

    The guy intentionally deceived people into thinking he WAS dawkins on twitter. This made his following huge, and of course, led people off to his page with Dawkins books on amazon.

    I tried to reason with the guy ad nauseam. He tried to rationalize here and there, but when it came down to it he simply refused to make it clear on his page that he was no Dawkins.

    I dont see that twitter account anymore, so hopefully it was removed due to impersonation. When I found out it wasnt him, I looked up the rules. Only the impersonated can challenge an impersonator.

  • Tony

    Who is this “Mr Dawkins” referenced by the judge?

  • Luther

    I just checked out and Perhaps the pope can make a case, but maybe several gods will fight it out.

  • There is a major difference between a squatter and someone who purchases a fair and square, regardless of what they call it. Good to know that there are judges out there who will say, “Yeah, we know you bought this site and you have the right to do with it as you please…even be an asshole…but we’re taking it away from you.”

    Case in point, I was not the first person to get the domain/handle I’ve been pretty attached to the name for years. But, I didn’t get it, so I had to pick something else. That’s how life is. The Internet is first come, first serve.

    This is a slippery slope that is applauded until your own rights and property are stripped away from you by those same liberal judges…

    Let me put it this way. The judges essentially said, “Because we think of the scientist Richard Dawkins when we think of Richard, we’re giving it to him.” Too bad wasn’t owned by a lawyer by the same name. This case would have gone much differently.

  • ThilinaB

    Good for Dawkins but a bad decision overall.

    Does this mean some one slightly more famous than me has the rights to a website with my name even if get the domain first.

    Put as simply as possible, when any one of the three panelists hears the name “Richard Dawkins”, each thinks automatically of the books and articles written by Mr. Dawkins

    That makes it sound like who you have on the panel also makes a difference. Famous international person versus famous american person with an american panel could mean the international guy gets shafted because the panel is more familiar with the american person.

    As long as the owner of the site is paying for the domian name, i don’t really see what claim that anyone else has to the domain name. An entire industry is founded on the concept (cyber-squatting).

  • Insignificant Speck

    Yeah I’m surprised at the unskeptical nature of this post. Domain names as I understood are whoever gets it first owns it. Now I’m not so sure. Is it whoever is most famous gets the name?

  • mark

    “My guess is that the Dot Com URL will soon direct people right back to the Dot Net website.”

    or vice-versa. 🙂

  • Dorkins

    Simply having a common law trademark is not grounds for winning a case, as others have said, that panel – R. Glen Ayers, Houston Putnam Lowry, G. Gervaise Davis – sounds like a bunch of star-fuckers

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