Salesforce.com lost an attempt to gain control of the domain name Forces.com, which it wanted because it has a product called Force.com.
The panel that handles disputes about domain names, the National Arbitration Forum, said in its ruling that Salesforce.com doesn't have rights to the name because the owner, Internet Venture Holdings, registered Forces.com before Salesforce.com trademarked and began using Force.com.
Salesforce.com argued that Internet Venture Holdings was typo-squatting--in other words, using a name that's confusingly similar to its trademark with the hope that sloppy typers will end up on Forces.com even though they were intended to go to Salesforce.com's site.
While Forces.com was at one point a site about the armed forces, as can be seen in this Internet research tool, it now has a simple page advertising that "this premium domain is for sale" on it.
So why doesn't Salesforce.com founder and CEO Marc Benioff just pay up?
I haven't heard back from people at Saleforce.com, but this is clearly a battle over money. Salesforce.com likely balked at whatever the price was and instead tried to wrestle control through arbitration.
Benioff is a shrewd man when it comes to understanding the power and importance of domain names. Last year, Salesforce.com paid more than $1.5 million for data.com, and the company also owns Social.com. In 2008, he sold the name Bill.com for an undisclosed amount.
The ruling must irk Benioff since, given the ruling, the price will only go higher.
News of the Forces.com dispute was first reported by Domain Name Wire.