Domain Names ARE Protected Speech

from the at-least-this-time dept

Last March we had a story about a guy who was being sued for his website after he created a site praising a local shopping center. After being sued, he set up another site, suggesting that the company that runs the shopping center and who sued him (Taubman) sucks, so (of course) they sued him for that too. ICANNWatch is now reporting that the court has ruled that domain names are protected speech, and this guy has a right to keep both the praising one and the sucks one. The whole story is available over at the site. However, most importantly, the court stated the following (ICANNWatch calls them “precedent setting words”): “The rooftops of our past have evolved into the internet domain names of our present. We find that the domain name is a type of public expression, no different in scope than a billboard or a pulpit, and Mishkoff has a First Amendment right to express his opinion about Taubman, and as long as his speech is not commercially misleading, the Lanham Act cannot be summoned to prevent it.”

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