Internet

Court resists trend in Net address case

In a rare victory for an individual domain name owner, a federal court has thrown out the cybersquatting claims of a truck manufacturer against a computer consultant.

In a rare victory for an individual domain name owner, a federal court has thrown out the cybersquatting claims of a truck manufacturer against a computer consultant.

The case pitted Strick, a truck manufacturer based in Fairless Hills, Penn., against James "Strick" Strickland, a Tarpon Springs, Fla., computer consultant who registered the domain name in 1995.

Strick has been battling to acquire the Web address since 1996, when it took its case to domain name registrar Network Solutions. NSI put the domain on hold from January 1997 until January 2000, when it restored names on hold to their original owners unless they faced renewed challenges.

The truck manufacturer lodged just such a challenge with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees the Internet address system. Argued before the National Arbitration Forum, the case was decided in favor of the computer consultant. In June 2000, the company filed suit with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, whose Aug. 27 summary judgment handed another victory to Strickland.

The case is unusual, said a lawyer for Strickland, because in most cases of this type courts have ruled in favor of companies, which have been seen as targets of profiteering "cybersquatters" trying to exact payments for domain names.

"The court cases where a judge explicitly recognizes that the domain name owner did nothing wrong are few and far between," said attorney Carl Oppedahl of Oppedahl & Larson. "This is one of only a tiny handful of such cases.

"This one, together with the Clue case, marks the beginning of the end for covetous parties who try to misuse the legal system to take domain names away from innocent owners."

The truck manufacturer could not immediately be reached for comment. It has until Sept. 28 to decide whether to appeal the District Court's decision.