The story of, or, Cybersquatting 101

waitwhat?Heenan Blaikie was one of the most prestigious firms in the history of Canadian law.  It had a long glorious history of fine lawyers and lawyering. Then it went belly up. Now their old website address (well, one of them) is possibly NSFW, as seen in the screenshot above. Lawyers! Internet! NSFW! If there was ever a story that combined all my interests, this is it.

So yesterday the local online lawyer rag, Droit-inc., published a story that pointed to the now sorta NSFW site. The headline was (undoubtedly bad translation by me) “Was Heenan the victim of cybersquatting?”

Answer: No.

Now, don’t get me wrong, someone besides ex-Heenan lawyers or managers owns that URL now. The evidence is kinda overwhelming. But are they “cybersquatting”? Let’s go to the definition:

Cybersquatting (also known as domain squatting), according to the United States federal law known as the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. The cybersquatter then offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price.

So as usual I have bolded the important things for you. Let’s see what have we got: (1) intent to profit from goodwill. Strike one. A bankrupt law firm that went down in horrible flames where the old employees are suing is not loaded with goodwill. Next: (2) offers to sell the domain for an inflated price. Right, because the someone out there is willing to pay MILLIONS for a URL of a bankrupt law firm.

So what happened exactly? We may never know. Normally, you can find out who owns a website domain. All you do is what is called a “WHOIS” search. You will get who registered the domain, as well as an administrative and technical contact person. Unfortunately, the WHOIS search results for don’t give any juicy info. It just says the domain was registered by GoDaddy, and the admin and tech contacts are listed as what is called “domain by proxy” email addresses. This is a privacy service that certain registrars like GoDaddy have that, for a fee, will let you be anonymous to the general public. Dammit!

I did promise you “Cybersquatting 101”, so here is a paragraph of possibly useful information! If you own a trademark, and you believe someone is cybersquatting on a URL that they “intend to profit” off your goodwill, and fear they may sell it to you for an inflated price (or perhaps they have already approached you with an offer), you actually have a recourse. ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is a non-profit organization that essentially manages the domain name system on the internet (unless it’s a .ca address, or other exceptions, usually country domains). ICANN has this thing called the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. It’s what it sounds like! A dispute resolution procedure for cybersquatters. So if you feel you’re the victim of cybersquatting, contact your favourite internet law specialist and he (or she) can (maybe) help.

As for, I am wildly speculating that the domain was bought by some ex-employees, perhaps the very same ones who are suing! They are pissed, and they are looking to embarrass the Heenan lawyers who fucked them over. It may be working.

Oh, and (SPOILER ALERT) the “3 naughty dirty talk phrases to drive your man wild” are You’re fucking amazing, Don’t stop, and I want more. Cool.


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