Reader Eileen writes in to alert us that the NCAA -- known for its overly restrictive views
at times -- is trying to bully the owner of the discussion website NCAAbbs.com
into handing over its domain names. The NCAA is, not surprisingly, complaining that any domain name that includes NCAA automatically should belong to the NCAA. Of course, it's not so simple. While the NCAA does have a trademark on its name, that doesn't mean it gets automatic control over any site that uses NCAA in its domain name. The NCAAbbs site is clearly not associated with the NCAA and is pretty clearly just a fan discussion site. The owner of the site says that he's planning to fight the demand, and hopefully he can succeed. While the domain dispute process can be a bit arbitrary, the courts have often realized that a trademark holder does not get full control over every domain that mentions them. Hopefully, that will be the case here as well. Of course, the one area where it's pretty clear that you can keep such a domain name is in cases of "sucks sites." So perhaps if the NCAA wins this, the owner can simple relocate to NCAAreallysucks.com.
More to the point, however, you have to wonder what the NCAA thinks it's doing here. You have a site that has been set up to promote the NCAA and all of the various sports teams within the NCAA. This is an incredibly useful promotional tool that the NCAA should be celebrating and helping
rather than attacking. Why do so many organizations think it's smart to threaten, attack or sue their biggest fans?