Khan Academy Buys Cybersquatted Dot Com
from the common-law-trademarks... dept
Earlier this year, I wrote about the Khan Academy, the online operation run by an old housemate of mine, Sal Khan. At the time, he was getting more and more (well deserved) press attention for the project. Since then, that attention has only increased, with Bill Gates giving him a shout out and Google handing him $2 million. But one thing he didn’t have, apparently, was the domain name khanacademy.com. He said he was about to get it, but someone beat him to it.
Dennis sent over an interesting story by a guy who helped Sal buy the dot com from the cybersquatter. It’s an interesting story of how buying domains works (with a lot of questionable things happening in the background). In the end, they were able to purchase the domain for $2,988. They actually paid $5,000 initially, but the company running the auction later said it detected fraudulent bidding, and lowered the price.
That said, I wanted to point out an important mistake that the guy made — which may have actually made this more costly. Here’s what the guy wrote:
I checked to see if Sal had a trademark. If he had I would have suggested a WIPO action. It would have been a slam dunk. But Sal, busy teaching kids trigonometry for free, hadn’t gotten one yet.
And here’s the mistake: you don’t need a registered trademark in such a situation. Would it help? Perhaps, but it’s really not necessary. All you need is a common law trademark, and that would be quite easy for Sal to demonstrate. The UDRP process has regularly said that common law trademarks are sufficient. In fact, WIPO has explicitly stated that no registration is necessary, and has regularly ruled for those holding common law trademarks, so long as they can show evidence as to why they hold a common law trademark.
It’s kind of unfortunate that Sal and the author of that article had to go through this other process, as it likely cost them more than a straight UDRP dispute and the money they spent went to whoever squatted the domain. Oh well, perhaps it’s just an educational moment — and one Sal can use in a future video teaching others about trademarks, common law trademarks and the domain dispute process…